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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.
Russian forces have launched a major military attack on Ukraine, with reports of troops crossing the border from multiple directions, missile strikes and explosions in multiple cities, including the capital Kyiv. The assault began at about 5:00am Ukrainian time, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on state television that Russia was starting a military operation for the “demilitarization and denazification” of eastern Ukraine. The New York Times reporting.
Putin said his goal was not to occupy the country, however, blasts occurred across a wide swath of Ukraine’s territory, not just near separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, “suggesting that at least for now, Russia intended a far wider operation.” Michael Birnbaum, Mary Ilyushina, Paul Sonne and Isabelle Khurshudyan report for the Washington Post.
At least eight people have been killed and nine were injured by the Russian shelling, an adviser to the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs has said. Reuters reporting.
Ukrainian forces claim they have killed approximately 50 “Russian occupiers” while taking back control of the eastern frontline town of Shchastya, according to AFP. The agency says it could not independently verify that claim. The Guardian reports.
Ukrainian forces have shot down six Russian fighter jets and a helicopter in an increasingly intense clash to maintain control over major cities, a senior Ukrainian military official said. Ukrainian soldiers have also fought off, for the time being, Russian advances on two key cities: Chernihiv, in the north near Belarus, and Kharkiv, in the northeast close to Russia’s border, the official said. Michael Schwirtz reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy today called on all citizens who were prepared to defend the country from Russian forces to step forward, saying Kyiv would issue weapons to everyone who wants them. Zelenskiy also encouraged Russians to come out and protest against the war. Reuters reports.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of starting a full-scale war and called on the United Nations “to do everything possible” to stop it. In a post on Twitter, Kuleba stated that his country was facing “a full-scale attack from multiple directions” but “continues to defend itself” from the Russian invasion. BBC News reporting.
Ukraine had earlier declared a 30-day state of emergency, mobilized reserves and told nearly 3 million of its citizens to immediately leave Russia. Tim Lister, Ivana Kottasová, Nada Bashir and Laura Smith-Spark report for CNN.
Several Ukrainian government websites – including the parliament, the foreign affairs and defense ministries – were down yesterday following another cyber attack, a Ukrainian official confirmed. Banks’ websites were also inaccessible, Mykhailo Fedorov, minister of digital transformation, stated. Ines Kagubare reports for The Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
President Biden denounced the Russian assault as an “unprovoked and unjustified attack” that signals “a premeditated war,” saying he would speak to the American people today. The President plans to impose what he called “severe sanctions” against Russia today in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Jeremy Herb, Donald Judd and Phil Mattingly report for CNN.
Biden announced an initial round of sanctions yesterday targeting the Russian-owned company that is constructing the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in response to Moscow’s decision to send troops into eastern Ukraine. Laurence Norman and Evan Gershkovich report for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
European leaders are poised to hit Russia with the “harshest package of sanctions” ever introduced. In a statement, European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed to “weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernize” following the “barbaric attack” by Moscow against Ukraine. The bloc will convene later today to work on new measures to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable. Joseph Ataman and Amy Cassidy report for CNN.
NATO will hold an emergency meeting this morning to discuss the Russian assault, which was condemned as a “reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives.” In a statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “This is a grave breach of international law, and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” adding that “NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all allies.” Steven Erlanger reports for the New York Times.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that the United Kingdom and its allies “will respond decisively” to the attack. Johnson will chair an emergency session with cabinet ministers in Britain later today and is expected to address Parliament. Rachel Pannett and Adela Suliman report for the Washington Post.
Europe is preparing for large numbers of displaced people from Ukraine if a full-on conflict breaks out. Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports for the New York Times.
Fresh sanctions announced yesterday by the United Kingdom, European Union, Australia, Canada and Japan targeted Kremlin officials, lawmakers, and banks. Among those who face financial and travel penalties are Russia’s defense minister, the chief of staff to Putin and other members of his inner circle. Bill Chappell, Becky Sullivan and Peter Granitz report for NPR.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The European Union is set to uncover a strategy to “break free” from Russian oil and gas after decades of dependence. The plan to split from Russian energy, expected to be announced by the European Commission next week, would give Europe a freer political hand against Russia than it has had in the past. Michael Birnbaum and Steven Mufson report for the Washington Post.
Almost a year after they began, talks to revive the Iranian nuclear deal are nearing their conclusion, Iranian and U.S. officials have indicated, raising hopes the agreement may soon be restored. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, left the Vienna talks yesterday for meetings in Tehran following a whirl of last-minute sessions with his counterparts from Europe, Russia and China. The U.S. delegations and others stayed in place awaiting his return, possibly as early as tomorrow. “We are nearing the end,” Enrique Mora, the European Union representative to the negotiations, stated on Twitter. Karen DeYoung reports for the Washington Post.
The U.S. has issued new sanctions on alleged members of an illegal network financing Yemen’s Houthi rebels, citing the group’s involvement in the continuing war in Yemen and recent drone and missile assaults on Washington’s Gulf allies. In a statement yesterday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury said the network “has transferred tens of millions of dollars to Yemen via a complex international network of intermediaries in support of the Houthis’ attacks”. Al Jazeera reporting.
OTHER U.S. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The two prosecutors heading the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal probe into former President Donald Trump and his company have resigned, according to people familiar with the matter. The resignations cast doubt on the future of the years-long investigation that led to the indictment of the Trump Organization last year. The prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, submitted their resignations because the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, suggested to them that he had doubts about advancing with a case against Trump, the people said. William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, Kate Christobek and Nate Schweber report for the New York Times.
The Justice Department is scrapping a Trump-era initiative to fight Chinese national-security threats that critics said unfairly targeted academics of Asian descent. The agency will shift focus to more targeted threats, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen said yesterday in a briefing with reporters, adding that the department would now pursue only instances where prosecutors detect clear criminal misconduct with clear links to U.S. national or economic security interests. Aruna Viswanatha reports for The Wall Street Journal.
President Joe Biden has interviewed three potential supreme court nominees and is expected to reveal his decision by the end of this month, according to multiple sources. Ketanji Brown Jackson, Leondra Kruger and J Michelle Childs – all Black women – were among the contenders who met with the president. Ariane de Vogue, Joan Biskupic and Manu Raju report for CNN.
U.S. CAPITOL ATTACK ON JANUARY 6, 2021
A Trump supporter who entered the U.S. Capitol through a broken window and declared “this is war” on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 45 days in jail yesterday. Mariposa Castro, also known as Imelda Acosta, had also encouraged social media followers to act. Ryan J. Reilly reports for NBC News.
Ivanka Trump, Trump’s eldest daughter who also served as senior White House adviser, is in discussions to appear before investigators from the House committee reviewing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, according to two people familiar with the talks. Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater report for the New York Times.
COVID-19 AND PROTESTS AGAINST PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS
A trucker demonstration left California for Washington, D.C., yesterday in a bid to emulate the protests against coronavirus restrictions that recently paralyzed Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, for weeks. Though it was advertised as a grass-roots, nonpartisan event, the group behind it appears to be closely aligned with far-right organizations and activists, and many have links to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Shawn Hubler and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times.
The U.S. is set to deploy 700 unarmed National Guard troops to Washington ahead of the arrival of trucker convoys protesting against pandemic restrictions. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin authorized the request yesterday from the District of Columbia government and the U.S. Capitol Police, the Pentagon said in a statement last night. AP reporting.
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.