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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – DIPLOMACY
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he believes he can deliver “a historic solution” to the Ukraine crisis ahead of his arrival in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “After a flurry of diplomatic activity that included talks with [President Biden] this weekend and three phone calls with Putin, Macron will land in Moscow on Monday seeking a ‘de-escalation’ of the tense standoff on Ukraine’s eastern borders…Macron told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that Russia’s objective was ‘not Ukraine, but a clarification of the rules…with NATO and the E.U.’ It was therefore ‘urgent to advance towards a new order which our Europe needs profoundly and which rests on the cardinal principle of sovereign equality among states,’ he told the paper,” Luke Harding, Richard Luscombe, Martin Farrer and Julian Borger report for the Guardian.
Macron also cautioned against expecting Moscow to take unilateral measures to de-escalate the situation and said Russia had the right to raise its own concerns. Macron was clear, however, that dialogue with Russia could not “pass through the weakening of any European state.” BBC News reports.
Russia expects no decisive breakthrough from today’s talks between Putin and Macron, but expects that Macron will propose ways to ease tensions in Europe, the Kremlin has said. Reuters reports.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is meeting with Biden at the White House today, as Scholz seeks to reassure Germany’s NATO allies that his country can be relied upon. U.S. officials have said the two leaders would spend most of their time together discussing the Ukraine crisis, including a “robust sanctions package” being prepared to punish Moscow should an invasion go ahead. Kevin Liptak reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – TROOPS AND MILITARY EQUIPMENT
A few dozen elite U.S. troops and equipment were seen landing yesterday in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine. The troops’ arrival follows President Biden’s orders to deploy 1,700 soldiers towards NATO’s eastern front. “Hundreds more infantry troops of the 82nd Airborne Division are still expected to arrive at the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport, 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Poland’s border with Ukraine,” Monika Scislowska and Czarek Sokolowski report for AP.
Germany is preparing to send additional military forces to its battle group in Lithuania, Germany’s Defense Minister, Christine Lambrecht has said. “We [Germany] are already making a very important contribution in Lithuania, where we are the only country in the European Union to have a battle group…As a matter of principle, additional troops are available as reinforcement, and we are in talks with Lithuania at the moment to find out what exactly would make sense in this regard…Everyone in NATO can rely on us,” Lambrecht said in an interview. Daniel Boffey reports for the Guardian.
The U.S. and an informal coalition of several NATO countries are operating an air bridge to ship military aid to Ukraine. “Eight U.S. cargo airplanes have landed in Kyiv since Jan. 22, after Biden approved $200 million in new military aid for Ukraine, with more scheduled in coming days. NATO members, including the U.K. and the Baltic states, have also sent plane loads of weapons, with Poland and the Czech Republic slated to make deliveries soon,” Brett Forrest reports for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – RUSSIAN MILITARY
Russia has enough troops in place to seize Kyiv or another Ukrainian city but not yet enough for a full takeover and occupation of Ukraine, Ukraine’s former defense minister has said in an interview. Luke Harding and Richard Luscombe report for the Guardian.
Russia has already assembled 70 percent of the forces it would need to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a U.S. official has said. A Russian invasion would likely cause significant casualties, killing or wounding up to 50,000 civilians within weeks, the official said, adding that Kyiv would most likely be captured in the early days of an invasion. Courtney Kube and Rhoda Kwan report for NBC News.
New satellite imagery is showing that a large base which held Russian tanks, artillery, and other armor near the Ukrainian border has been largely emptied, with the equipment apparently being moved much closer to the frontier. Gianluca Mezzofiore and Tim Lister report for CNN.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said that a Russian invasion of Ukraine “could happen as soon as tomorrow or it could take some weeks yet.” Molly Nagle reports for ABC News.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The bombing on Aug. 26 outside the Kabul airport was carried out by a single bomber and was not as “complex” an attack as U.S. officials first thought, according to a Pentagon investigation into the attack. Officials found the bomber detonated an explosive device containing ball bearings, killing at least 170 Afghan civilians in addition to 13 U.S. service members, as they approached the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport, U.S. Central Command head Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. has said. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
The head of U.S. Central Command has arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help reinforce the UAE’s defenses after attacks from Iranian-affiliated Houthi rebels in Yemen. McKenzie is expected to “offer a plan to enhance information-sharing on air defenses and to hear out requests for any additional assistance the Emirates might need,” Karoun Demirjian reports for the Washington Post.
President Biden is to visit Israel “later this year” at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a White House readout of a call between the two leaders yesterday has said. The White House said Biden and Bennett “discussed the shared security and other challenges in the Middle East region, including the threat posed by Iran and its proxies.” Donald Judd reports for CNN.
Negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are to resume tomorrow, the E.U. has confirmed. Reuters reports.
News Corp has been the target of a cyber-attack, potentially linked to China, that accessed emails and documents of journalists and other employees. The attack was discovered on Jan. 20 and News Corp has said that it notified law enforcement and hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant Inc. to support an investigation. “Mandiant assesses that those behind this activity have a China nexus, and we believe they are likely involved in espionage activities to collect intelligence to benefit China’s interests,” said David Wong, vice president of incident response at Mandiant. Alexandra Bruell, Sadie Gurman and Dustin Volz report for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. special representative for North Korea will meet with Japanese and South Korean officials later this week, the State Department has said. The meeting will follow a series of ballistic missile tests U.S. officials have said that Pyongyang launched last month. Reuters reports.
Cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges were an important revenue source for Pyongyang, as North Korea continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs during the past year, according to a confidential U.N. report produced by independent sanctions monitors. Michelle Nichols reports for Reuters.
The Biden administration is preparing to unveil its first broad economic strategy for the Asia-Pacific region. “With the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the U.S. aims to work more closely with friendly nations on issues including digital trade, supply chains and green technology. The framework is aimed at filling the hole in U.S. Asia strategy left by its 2017 departure from the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Yuka Hayashi reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Ottawa has declared a state of emergency as protesters opposed to Covid-19 restrictions continued to paralyze the Canadian capital’s downtown. Ottawa’s mayor Jim Watson said the declaration highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government. Meanwhile, Bruce Heyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada, has tweeted that: “today Canada is unfortunately experiencing radical U.S. politicians involving themselves in Canadian domestic issues. Trump and his followers are a threat not just to the U.S. but to all democracies.” AP reports.
What started as a rally of Canadian truckers angry at cross-border vaccine mandates has fast become a magnet for far-right grievances around the world. “While the Canadian standoff against Covid-19 restrictions paralyzes Ottawa, it’s becoming viral online as a rallying cry for leading U.S. Republican politicians, far-right influencers and white supremacist groups who have transposed the criticism of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to an international audience for their own political gain,” Mark Scott reports for POLITICO.
Tunisian President Kais Saied declared yesterday that he is dissolving the country’s main legal body, the Supreme Judicial Council, a move that the head of the council called “illegal.” Saied has accused the judges of bias and corruption. However, the council said there was no legal framework to dissolve it and its members vowed to continue holding their seats on the independent body, which was set up in 2016 to guarantee the judiciary’s independence. BBC News reports.
Tunisian police today locked the doors of the Supreme Judicial Council and stopped staff from entering the building, sources have said. Al Jazeera reports.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
House Republicans conducting their own investigation into the Jan. 6 attack plan to accuse the Capitol security apparatus of “negligence at the highest levels,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) has said. The group “absolutely” has uncovered new information, Banks said, adding that it plans to issue a report, including legislative recommendations, before this fall’s midterms. Andrew Solender reports for Axios.
Former Vice President Pence forcefully has rejected former President Trump’s claims that Pence could have overturned the 2020 election outcome during the session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. “President Trump is wrong,” Pence said in a speech. “The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”Alex Leary and Siobhan Hughes report for the Wall Street Journal.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-) and Lisa Murkowski (R-) have signaled optimism about their work to reform the Electoral Count Act, with Manchin saying that reforms to the act will “absolutely pass.” The lawmakers are part of a bipartisan effort to make changes to the 19th century law that was intended to give Congress a process by which to certify the Electoral College votes submitted by the states, and which former President Trump and his allies attempted to exploit last year. Paul LeBlanc, Aaron Pellish and Ali Main report for CNN.
OTHER U.S. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has ordered a moratorium on no-knock warrants in the city after a Black man was fatally shot by Minneapolis police inside his apartment last week. Joseph De Avila and Talal Ansari report for the Wall Street Journal.
A Navy SEAL candidate died on Friday and a second was hospitalized after completing what is known as “Hell Week,” an initial grueling phase of the training for the Navy SEALs. In a statement, Naval Special Warfare command said the death is under investigation. The sailors were not actively training when they reported symptoms and were transported to receive emergency care, the statement said. Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube report for NBC News.
A suspect added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on charges that he killed two people in a 2006 shooting spree has been captured in Mexico, the FBI has announced. Octaviano Juarez-Corro had spent 16 years on the run and is alleged to have shot his estranged wife and four other people following an argument. Doha Madani reports for NBC News.
Authorities are searching for three inmates who escaped through an air vent from a jail in northeast Tennessee Friday morning. A reward of $7,500 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of each man, according to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office. Joe Sutton reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 76.50 million people and has now killed over 902,600 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 395.20 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 5.74 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.
Latest updates on the pandemic at the Guardian.