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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 – FIGHTING
Ukraine’s besieged cities have come under further heavy bombardments from Russia. Rocket attacks have continued on Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv and at least 21 people have been killed and 112 wounded in the shelling in the city, the regional governor said earlier. Martin Farrer and Luke Harding report for the Guardian.
Kharkiv’s police headquarters and the nearby university building were severely damaged and caught fire during strikes from Russia overnight. Several residential areas of Kharkiv were also hit overnight and Russian forces attempted to seize the city’s military hospital, local authorities have said. The city remains under Ukrainian control. Yaroslav Trofimov reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Russian paratroopers have landed in Kharkiv and are engaged in heavy fighting with Ukrainian forces, Ukrainian security chiefs have said. BBC News reports.
Four more people have been killed and nine wounded by Russian shelling this morning in Kharkiv, local emergency services and the city’s mayor have said. A missile struck buildings belonging to the police, the Security Service of Ukraine, and Karazin National University at around 08:10 local time (01:10 ET). BBC News reports.
Conflicting reports have emerged as to the fighting in the southern Ukraine port city of Kherson. Russia has said that it has taken “full control” of Kherson, but the city’s mayor, while confirming that Russian tanks and troops were in the city, said that it is still held by Ukrainian forces. The region’s governor also said that Kherson is completely surrounded by Russian forces. BBC News reports.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said yesterday afternoon that it would strike Ukrainian intelligence and communications facilities in central Kyiv, which it said are being used for “information attacks” against Russia. The ministry urged residents living nearby to leave for their own safety. Yaroslav Trofimov reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Two Russian missiles struck the TV tower in Kyiv yesterday, knocking out access to some news and broadcasts. Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said the Kremlin was preparing to cut off a large part of Ukraine from the internet and communications. “Its goal is to break the resistance of the people and the army,” Reznikov said. Luke Harding reports for the Guardian.
The U.K.’s Defense Ministry has said that it had seen an increase in Russian air and artillery strikes on populated urban areas in Ukraine. The ministry also said three cities — Kharkiv, Kherson and Mariupol — were encircled by Russian forces. Yuras Karmanau, Jim Heintz, Vladimir Isachenkov and Dasha Litvinova report for AP.
A 40 mile-long convoy of Russian armored vehicles is about 15 miles north of the capital Kyiv. Analysts believe that the convoy is there to support an attack on Kyiv from the West. BBC News reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that almost 6,000 Russian troops were killed in the first six days of Moscow’s invasion. Zelensky added in his address that the Kremlin would not be able to take Ukraine with bombs and airstrikes. CBS News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The U.N. General Assembly is set to vote this afternoon on a resolution demanding Russia end the war in Ukraine and withdraw all Russian troops. During the first part of the Assembly’s meeting yesterday countries lined up to condemn Russia’s attack. The final 10 speakers scheduled for this morning include Belarus, who will address the Assembly just before the United States. The draft General Assembly resolution currently “deplores the involvement of Belarus in this unlawful use of force against Ukraine” and calls for it to comply. As of late yesterday, the resolution had 94 co-sponsors. AP reports.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution yesterday calling on the E.U. institutions “to work towards granting” Ukraine the status of an E.U. candidate country. Jon Stone reports for the Independent.
The E.U. Parliament’s resolution also demanded that the E.U. impose “tougher sanctions” on Russia. It condemned “in the strongest possible terms Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and demands that the Kremlin end all military activities in the country,” and called on E.U. countries to send Ukraine “defensive weapons more swiftly.” The members stressed that the E.U.’s financial sanctions against Russia should go further, stating that “all Russian banks should be blocked from the European financial system and Russia should be banned from the SWIFT system.” Niamh Kennedy and James Frater report for CNN.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague is to hold public hearings starting Monday next week over claims of genocide in Ukraine. The hearings will be devoted to Ukraine’s request for the indication of provisional measures given the urgency of the matter, the statement from the ICJ said. The court will not be considering questions of jurisdiction or the merits of Ukraine’s case at the initial hearings. Melissa Gray and Samantha Beech report for CNN.
The ICJ also said that its President, Judge Joan E. Donoghue, has sent Russia an “urgent communication” to prepare in case the court does order provisional measures, or immediate steps, to protect Ukraine. Reuters reports.
Beijing is “ready to seek a peaceful solution” in diplomatic talks to end the war in Ukraine, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said. Kuleba had a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi earlier yesterday. “Without calling Russia’s military act in Ukraine an ‘invasion,’ Wang had said that China respects every country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and he urged Ukraine and Russia to solve the crisis through negotiations,” Emmet Lyons and Maddie Araujo report for CNN.
Following the call with Kuleba, Beijing released a statement saying that it was “extremely concerned about the harm to civilians” in Ukraine and that it “deplored” the outbreak of the conflict. “Ukraine is willing to strengthen communications with China and looks forward to China playing a role in realizing a ceasefire,” the Chinese statement said. Eleanor Olcott, James Kynge and Roman Olearchyk report for the Financial Times.
China will not participate in unilateral financial sanctions imposed by Western nations on Russia, Guo Shuqing, the head of China’s banking and insurance regulator, has said. “We will continue to maintain normal economic, trade and financial exchanges with relevant parties,” Guo said. Grace Zhu reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suspended visa-free travel for Ukrainian tourists, after abstaining from a U.N. Security Council resolution last week condemning the Russian invasion. “Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan spoke by phone Tuesday with … Putin about bilateral relations and energy markets, according to the UAE state news agency. As Russian forces were closing in on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, Sheikh Mohammed avoided any public criticism of Moscow, emphasizing to Putin ‘the need for a peaceful solution to the crisis,’ the news agency said,” Stephen Kalin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Turkey’s presidential spokesperson has said that Russia’s “maximalist” and “unreasonable” demands of Ukraine will not help ceasefire talks at this point. Turkey has a line of communication open with Russia, and the spokesperson said that Putin increasing his military assault on Ukraine will not “realistically” help upcoming negotiations. Celine Alkhaldi, Mostafa Salem and Adam Pourahmadi report for CNN.
Turkey will enforce Black Sea rules equally on all sides, Turkey has said as it seeks to walk a fine line between Russia and Ukraine. “We, in a friendly way, told Russia not to send the vessels” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, referring to three warships Turkey asked Russia not to send to the Black Sea, “and Russia told us that the vessels would not pass through the straits,” Çavuşoğlu added. Safak Timur reports for the New York Times.
Ukraine is set to receive more Stinger and Javelin missiles from abroad, as well as another shipment of Turkish drones, Ukrainian Defense Minster Oleksii Reznikov has said. The Guardian reports.
E.U. diplomats have approved new sanctions against Belarus. Sanctions will hit “some economic sectors, and in particular timber, steel and potash,” as well as Belarusian people who are playing a role in attacks on Ukraine, the French presidency of the E.U. said in a statement. Reuters reports.
A growing list of companies have taken steps against Russia and are looking to exit the country over the war. Companies who have taken steps to distance themselves from Russia include Apple, ExxonMobil, Boeing, Meta, BMQ, Nike, Roku, Snap, Adidas, Maersk, YouTube, Mastercard and Visa and Shell. Marisa Dallatto and Mason Bissada report for Forbes.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
In his first State of the Union address, President Biden vowed to check Russian aggression in Ukraine, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “a Russian dictator invading a foreign country.” During his speech, Biden highlighted the bravery of Ukrainian defenders and a newly reinvigorated Western alliance. “He acknowledged costs to the American economy, as well, but warned ominously that without consequences, … Putin’s aggression wouldn’t be contained to Ukraine,” Zeke Miller and Colleen Long report for AP.
Biden sought to rally Congress behind Ukraine in his address, leading Democratic and Republican lawmakers in a rare display of unity. Biden declared that he and all members of Congress, whatever their political differences, are joined “with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.” He asked lawmakers to stand and salute the Ukrainians as he began his speech. In a deviation from his prepared remarks, Biden said of Putin: “he has no idea what’s coming.” Steve Holland, Makini Brice and Andrea Shalal report for Reuters.
Putin likely will not respond to comments made by Biden during the State of the Union address, and Russian media is following suit, experts have said. CNN reports.
Biden announced during his address that the U.S. will ban Russian aircraft from U.S. airspace, joining a growing number of countries who are closing their skies to Russia. Orders blocking Russian aircraft and airlines will be effective by the end of today, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration has said. Alison Sider and Andrew Tangel report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Justice Department is assembling a task force “to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs,” Biden announced during his State of the Union address. “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets … We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” Biden said. Sadie Gurman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has questioned whether Russia should be removed from the U.N. Human Rights Council. In a speech delivered virtually to the U.N. body, Blinken warned that Russia’s human rights abuses in Ukraine are mounting by the hour, saying that “Russian strikes are hitting schools, hospitals and residential buildings.” “They are destroying critical infrastructure, which provides millions of people across Ukraine with drinking water, gas to keep them from freezing to death, and electricity. Civilian buses, cars and even ambulances have been shelled. Russia is doing this every day, across Ukraine,” Blinken added. Amanda Macias reports for CNBC.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Russia has said that its delegation is ready to hold a second round of talks with Ukraine today. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before more talks could take place. Reuters reports.
Stock market trading on the Moscow Exchange is suspended for a third day, Russia’s Central Bank has said. Mike Ives reports for the New York Times.
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has called on Russians to stage daily protests against Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, according to a Twitter post made by his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh. Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Violent clashes have broken out between protestors and police at an anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstration on New Zealand’s parliament grounds. After nearly four weeks of impasse between the protestors and police, hundreds of officers in riot gear stormed the occupation, tearing down tents, towing vehicles and making arrests. Eva Corlett reports for the Guardian.
The World Bank has approved a plan to use more than $1bn from a frozen Afghanistan trust fund to finance urgently needed education, agriculture, health and family programs. The funds will be disbursed through the U.N. and aid agencies, bypassing sanctioned Taliban authorities and providing a major boost to efforts to ease the country’s humanitarian and economic crisis. Al Jazeera reports.
China’s space advances could pose an existential threat to U.S. national security, officials said at the U.S. Space Force Association conference on Monday. Julia Mueller reports for The Hill.
JAN. 6, 2021 ATTACK
On Tuesday, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenaed six lawyers and other allies of former President Trump who promoted false election fraud claims and worked to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. The subpoenas require the witnesses to sit for interviews in March. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
OTHER U.S. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
During his State of the Union address, President Biden announced plans to help veterans exposed to toxic chemicals by adding nine respiratory cancers to the list of disabilities caused by military service – meaning that affected veterans may now be eligible for compensation. Biden also called on Congress to pass legislation to make sure veterans who were exposed to toxins in Iraq and Afghanistan receive benefits and comprehensive care. Jordan Williams reports for The Hill.
A full transcript of Biden’s State of the Union address is provided by the New York Times.
Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department released a report warning of the “challenge” domestic extremists pose to financial institutions. This report marks the first time the Treasury has analyzed the funding methods used by domestic extremists. Richard Vanderford reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Marcus Ransom, the Foreman, and only black jury member, in the hate crimes trial of the men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery, has spoken publicly about the emotional toll of the case, describing his view of the evidence and the deliberations of the jury. Richard Fausset and Tariro Mzezewa report for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 79.09 million people and has now killed over 952,500 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 438.82 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 5.96 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.