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A curated guide to the latest major national security news and developments:
French President Emmanuel Macron ordered France to enter its third national lockdown as COVID cases continue to rise and hospitals risk being overwhelmed. Macron had tried to avoid another lockdown, but on Wednesday he said, “We will lose control if we do not move now.” The new restrictions include closing schools for three weeks and limiting people’s movement, keeping them close to home and under a curfew at night. Sudip Kar-Gupta and Geert De Clercq report for Reuters.
India is facing a severe second wave of coronavirus infections. The cause of this new wave is largely due to people taking fewer precautions, but experts also suspect that new, more infectious variants are at play. Soutik Biswas reports for BBC.
Even though Chile has had one of the most successful vaccination campaigns, a false sense of security has fueled a sharp spike in infections and the imposition of new lockdown measures. “When transmission rates are high, the vaccine does not rein in new infections right away,” said Dr. Denise Garrett, an epidemiologist at the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington. Pascale Bonnefoy and Ernesto Londoño report for the New York Times.
Russia says it’s developed a COVID vaccine for animals. A Russian agriculture agency said in a statement that the development of the shot would prevent new mutations from developing in animals. AFP reports.
New documents obtained by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis reveal how agency officials were pressured by the Trump White House to “reward politically connected or otherwise untested companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.” They also provided new details about Peter Navarro’s role “in a largely secretive buying spree of personal protective equipment and medical supplies.” J. David McSwane reports for ProPublica.
The United Nations special envoy on Myanmar told a session of the United Nations Security Council Wednesday that “a bloodbath is imminent” and urged the Council to take “potentially significant action.” Reuters reports.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, warned in an op-ed in the Washington Post that the violence in Myanmar is getting worse every day. “We will do more. And we need our allies and regional partners to do more, too,” she wrote.
A buildup of Russian forces near the border of Ukraine is believed to be a training exercise, but the moves are concerning as fighting between Russia and Ukraine have escalated in recent days. “Training exercises were always a possible explanation for the buildup, but a U.S. defense official told CBS News that the locations and types of units seen on the ground didn’t line up with what the Russian Ministry of Defense had announced last month.” David Martin and Eleanor Watson report.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Blinken “expressed concern about the security situation in eastern Ukraine and offered condolences on the recent loss of four Ukrainian soldiers,” the State Department said in a statement. Reuters reports.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke to the top Ukrainian general Wednesday, as well as his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov. Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr report for CNN.
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny said he’s going on a hunger strike until prison authorities provide him with proper medical care. Henry Meyer reports for Bloomberg.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
The Biden administration plans to repeal sanctions placed on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a top deputy. The changes could come as early as this week. Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer report for Foreign Policy.
The Trump administration’s sanctions on ICC officials are “not just unconstitutional. They betray America’s historic commitment to international justice,” and the Biden administration should rescind them as quickly as possible, James A. Goldston writes for Just Security.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it was doing away with Trump administration policies that aimed at banning transgender people from serving in the military. DOD also issued new rules that offer wider access to medical care and assistance with gender transition. “The changes come after a two-month Pentagon review aimed at developing guidelines for the new policy, which was announced by President Joe Biden just days after he took office in January.” Lolita C. Baldor reports for AP.
The Pentagon is weighing a series of new measures that would make the military more energy efficient, including mandating that all non-combat vehicles be electric by 2030. “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has already signaled that he will move quickly on this issue, establishing a Climate Working Group in March to coordinate the Pentagon response to climate change and track its implementation.” Lara Seligman and Bryan Bender report for POLITICO.
Facebook removed a video featuring a new interview with former President Donald Trump posted to the site by his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump. An email from the company said, “content posted on Facebook and Instagram in the voice of President Trump is not currently allowed on our platform (including new posts with President Trump speaking) and will be removed if posted, resulting in additional limitations on accounts that posted it.” Lauren Feiner reports for CNBC.
GOP lawmakers ask Google, Apple, and Amazon for more information over their decisions to shut down Parler on their platforms. “The lawmakers’ missive demands details by April 15 about how the companies viewed Parler’s account and who was involved in their final decisions to suspend the site, as well as information on how the companies usually review potential violations,” Christiano Lima reports for POLITICO.
Biden has directed the Pentagon to begin removing some military capabilities and forces from the Gulf region. “The U.S. has removed at least three Patriot antimissile batteries from the Gulf region, including one from Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia,” Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel report for the Wall Street Journal.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen described climate change as an “an existential threat” and said it was the biggest emerging risk to the health of the U.S. financial system. Victoria Guida reports for POLITICO.
The Syrian Democratic Forces have made several arrests in an ongoing operation that it’s conducting to crack down on violence and the threat posed by ISIS inside al-Hol camp, which houses 60,000 people in northeast Syria. Al Jazeera reports.
A series of bombings and shootings in Afghanistan killed at least four people on Wednesday. Rahim Faiez reports for AP.
New York prosecutors filed hate crime charges in the attack on an elderly Asian American woman in New York City. “It’s a case that could test the efficacy of such statutes amid a national groundswell of concern over rising anti-Asian attacks,” Shayna Jacobs, David Nakamura, and Tim Elfrink report for the Washington Post.
Sexual assault against women has become an integral part of Ethiopia’s war in Tigray. Declan Walsh reports for the New York Times.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is removing 40 outside experts picked by the Trump administration from two key advisory panels. “The Biden administration said the move is one of several to reestablish scientific integrity across the federal government …” Dino Grandoni reports for the Washington Post.