Samantha Vinograd is a CNN National Security Analyst. She served on President Obama's National Security Council from 2009 to 2013 and at the Treasury Department under President Bush. Follow her @sam_vinograd. The views expressed in this commentary are her own.
(CNN)Every week, I offer a glimpse of the kind of intelligence assessments that are likely to come across the desk of the President of the United States. Modeled on the President's Daily Briefing, or PDB, which the director of national intelligence prepares for the President almost daily, my Presidential Weekly Briefing focuses on the topics and issues the President needs to know to make informed decisions.
North Korea: Kim's already doing a victory lap
- Perceived US backtracking on preconditions: After North Korea announced that it would not unilaterally denuclearize, press secretary Sarah Sanders and National Security Adviser John Bolton said we would still go to a meeting, abandoning our earlier calls for North Korea to show a commitment to denuclearization before you would sit down with Kim. We confirmed that we aren't calling the meeting off despite Kim's backtracking. The North Koreans will probably read this change in our meeting preconditions as a victory.
- He wants more: The North Koreans likely also took note of your public remarks that the US has not given up anything in talks with Pyongyang, and they may try to get you to show some leg before Singapore. Their threats to walk away from the summit once they assessed you were committed to going may be designed to get concessions from you -- reports that the US, South Korea and Japan are shifting planned flights of B-52 bombers so they would not fly over the Korean Peninsula may be viewed as such a concession, particularly as the Pentagon won't publicly deny a connection.
Russia: When silent means deadly
- Solidify staying power: On the heels of Putin's third inauguration as President, we are tracking a Russian constitutional amendment that would allow him to run again in 2024. We expect that it will pass -- what Putin wants, Putin gets, so we may be stuck with Putin for the long haul.
- Build up the military: He spent much of last week in Sochi where he met with his top military brass to discuss plans for Russian military modernization. He released details on some of these plans, and the details were aimed, at least in part, at us. After his invincible missile display pre-election, he's going to continue these public shows of force to remind us, and the world, that he's still building up Russian conventional forces.
- Build illegal bridges: Despite international condemnation of his invasion and annexation of Crimea, Putin literally built a bridge to the illegally occupied territory and publicly inaugurated it last week. The Kerch bridge -- the longest in Europe at 19 kilometers -- links Russia with Crimea and is a physical reminder that Putin does not plan to leave Crimea anytime soon.
- Remind us who's boss: Putin hosted President Bashar Assad last week, the third publicly acknowledged visit by Assad to Russia since the war began in 2011. In a macabre statement after the meeting, the Russian government cited "improving" stability on the ground and support for a political process, despite recent chemical attacks and ongoing violence. We assess that this visit was timed partially to show that, despite US and Israeli strikes within Syria, Russia remains committed to keeping Assad in power and backing his every move.
- Warming up to our friends: Germany and Russia have had their differences, largely related to Russia's annexation of Crimea. But, when Putin welcomed Angela Merkel last week, he presented her with flowers ahead of their discussion on how to coordinate initiatives like the Iran deal and the Nord Stream 2 energy deal -- both issues that we, not Russia, are the outlier on. We should expect Putin to continue to try to cozy up to our allies on issues where we've gone a different direction.