Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING AND HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS
Russia has reportedly opened humanitarian corridors from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol so that civilians can be evacuated. Reuters reports.
The Ukrainian government has said that evacuations from Sumy and Irpin have begun. “As of 09.30 (02.30 EST), more than 150 people have been evacuated and (evacuation) activities are underway,” said the governor of the Kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba. Reuters reports.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna has said that buses are on their way to Mariupol to collect evacuees from the besieged city. Reuters reports.
Russia is shelling an evacuation route for civilians trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko has said. Matthias Williams reports for Reuters.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk has warned that “the Russian side is preparing to disrupt the work of humanitarian corridors and manipulate the route to force people to go the other way.” The Guardian reports.
The latest humanitarian corridors followed a third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators yesterday. However, the negotiators reported no progress on ending the war. Valerie Hopkins reports for the New York Times.
Analysis of the use of humanitarian corridors by Russian and Syrian forces during the war in Syria, and their relevance to the Ukraine conflict, is provided by AP.
At least 21 civilians, including two children, were killed in a Russian airstrike on a residential street in the northeastern city of Sumy late yesterday, the regional prosecutor’s office has said. Reuters reports.
The Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs has reported that 12,000 Russian personnel have been killed in today’s latest assessment of their losses. The Guardian reports.
The World Health Organization has verified 16 attacks on health services in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, leading to nine deaths and 16 injuries. “Dr Hans Kluge, the agency’s regional director for Europe, told a virtual news conference that 76 tons of health supplies have been sent to Ukraine, including five tons to Kyiv,” Isabella Kwai reports for the New York Times.
The U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths has called on Russia and Ukraine to ensure civilians are allowed to safely leave areas under fire in Ukraine and to allow for the delivery of desperately needed aid to these locations. U.N. News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The E.U. has formally agreed to consider requests to join the bloc by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The three countries neighbor Russia and have asked to join the E.U. amid Moscow’s recent invasion of Ukraine. The first step is for the bloc’s executives to present an “opinion” on the applications from the three countries, after which the E.U. member states have to agree unanimously to let the applicant formally become a “candidate.” The process of joining the bloc however usually then takes at least a decade to complete, though Ukraine has asked the E.U. to grant it a fast-track to membership. Agence France Presse reports.
Lithuania’s president told Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday that warnings to deter Moscow from further aggression are “no longer enough.” Hours later, Latvia’s foreign minister Edgars Runkevics predicted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would shatter any belief that the region could ever let its guard down against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Blinken is likely to be met with similar sentiments in Estonia today, as he continues his bid to convince Baltic leaders that the U.S. is doing all it can to stop Russia’s assault on Ukraine spreading across Europe. Lara Jakes reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address British lawmakers via video link in the House of Commons at 12oo EST. This will be the first time a foreign leader has addressed the main Westminster chamber. Reuters reports.
U.K. Defense Minister Ben Wallace has said that the U.K. would support Poland if it decided to provide Ukraine with fighter jets, but warned that this could bring Poland “into direct line of fire.” Wallace added that the U.K. could not offer aircraft that the Ukrainians would be able to use, and said that he would make a statement tomorrow setting out what further lethal and non-lethal aid the U.K. will be providing. Reuters reports.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. BBC News reports.
Australia has announced new sanctions targeting Russian propaganda and disinformation. The Australian government is sanctioning ten people for their role in promoting pro-Kremlin propaganda to legitimize the invasion. It is also working with social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google to suspend content generated by Russian state media in Australia. Rachel Pannett reports for the Washington Post.
The E.U. will propose a new mechanism to punish disinformation around the world. Citing what he said were lies intentionally spread by Russian state-owned media, E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the European Parliament that the E.U. should be able to freeze assets and ban travel to the bloc of those deemed responsible. Reuters reports.
Japan has unveiled a third round of sanctions against Russia and Belarus in connection with the situation in Ukraine. This latest package sees personal sanctions being placed on another 20 Russian and 12 Belarusian citizens. Japan has also imposed a ban on the export of oil refining equipment to Russia and general-purpose items bound for Belarus that could be used by its military, the Japanese foreign ministry said. BBC News reports
South Korea will begin sending emergency medical supplies to assist Ukraine in four shipments totalling 40 tons starting tomorrow. Yu Yong Jin reports for the New York Times.
Just Security has published an essay by Jennifer Trahan on how in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine, the U.N. General Assembly must recommend the creation of a hybrid criminal tribunal for the crime of aggression to be negotiated and agreed to between the U.N. and the Government of Ukraine.
Just Security has published a piece by Eliav Lieblich titled “Not Far Enough: The European Court of Human Rights’ Interim Measures on Ukraine.”
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OIL
President Biden has come under pressure to ban Russian oil imports into the United States. A group of bipartisan lawmakers have agreed to move ahead with legislation that would ban Russian energy imports into the U.S. and suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said that “no decision has been made at this point by the president about a ban on importing oil from Russia,” adding that discussions were “ongoing internally” and with European allies. Alan Rappeport, Edward Wong and Michael D. Shear report for the New York Times.
Further reporting on the bipartisan legislation that would ban imports of Russian energy is provided by Ana Swanson for the New York Times.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said yesterday that he had spoken with Biden administration officials about curbing Russian imports “and they’re looking closely at it,” adding that the administration is working with European allies. “The administration’s newfound interest in an import ban is motivated in part by a desire to avoid a protracted debate over bipartisan oil-ban legislation that could include even more unwelcome provisions further tying the administration’s hands diplomatically. It also helps avoid the potential embarrassment of lawmakers appearing tougher on Putin than the president by forcing his hand and sending him a bill to sign,” Andrew Desidero, Burgess Everett and Jonathan Lemire report for POLITICO.
The threats from the West to ban imports of Russian oil are shaking the markets, with the price of oil increasingly rapidly. The Economist provides analysis.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has warned that Russia might close off its main gas pipeline to Germany if the West were to ban Russian oil imports. Novak added that such a move would have “catastrophic consequences” for global supply and would see oil prices doubling to $300 a barrel. The E.U. gets about 40% of its gas and 30% of its oil from Russia and has no easy substitute if supplies are disrupted. BBC News reports.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro yesterday signaled a willingness to increase his country’s oil production if Russian supplies are shut out of the international market, following a meeting with U.S. officials over the weekend. However, some members of Congress have been critical of efforts to rekindle ties with Venezuela, saying that efforts to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin should not boost other authoritarian leaders. Austine Ramzy reports for the New York Times.
The White House has pushed back at concerns raised about the Biden administration’s willingness to reach deals on oil with countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, which “may have engaged in unsavory actions in the past.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki emphasized that oil and energy were only one element of the meetings that Biden administration officials have had with the countries, adding that the talks are in progress. Myah Ward reports for POLITICO.
Shell has pledged to stop buying oil from Russia as it apologised for its purchase of cheap Russian crude at the weekend. The energy giant has also said it would close all its services stations in the country. BBC News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
In an interview with ABC news Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his plea for the U.S. and other countries to clear the way for Soviet-era fighter aircraft to supplement his military, and to enforce a no-fly zone over his country. Zelensky also confirmed reports that he has been offered safe passage out of the country, but said that he would remain, adding that he is the democratically elected leader of Ukraine. The U.S. is pursuing ways to address Ukraine’s request for combat jets and to replenish Poland’s arsenal should it hand over Soviet-era planes to its neighbor. Courtney McBride reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The proposal to provide Ukraine with Soviet-era fighter jets from Poland is hitting logistical snags, according to U.S. officials. The plan is struggling to gain traction in President Biden’s administration, with concerns that Russia could see Poland supplying military aircraft as direct involvement in the conflict, and the U.S. is reviewing whether the plan is feasible given the difficulties in transferring planes and the fact that the U.S. does not have a surplus of the F-16 fighter jets to replenish Poland’s arsenal. Courtney Kube, Peter Alexander, Carol E. Lee and Dan De Luce report for NBC News.
Russia and the U.S. should return to the principle of “peaceful co-existence” like during the Cold War, the Interfax agency has cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying today. Reuters reports.
A bipartisan consensus in Congress to increase the Pentagon’s defense budget is growing stronger as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and an emboldened China have created a sense of insecurity. Democratic lawmakers, including some who had resisted in the past, are pressing for increases in military spending to address the changed security landscape. Catie Edmondson reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine today reached two million, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The Guardian reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke from his office in Kyiv yesterday for the first time since the Russian invasion began. Jesus Jimenez reports for the New York Times.
The Ukrainian government has said that citizens from areas with the heaviest fighting will be entitled to a payment of 6,500 Ukrainian Hryvnia. The payment will be available to hired employees and individual entrepreneurs. The Guardian reports.
Coinbase, the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, has said it has blocked more than 25,000 Russian addresses that it believed to be engaging in illicit activity. Other cryptocurrency exchanges have refused calls to suspend Russian accounts. John Yoon reports for the New York Times.
As western corporate giants cut off ties with Russia, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Papa John’s and Yum Brands – the conglomerate behind KFC and Pizza Hut, have all stayed silent on their plans for business in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. This is despite coming under growing pressure on social media and from large investors, showing how “deeply entrenched certain industries are in the regional and Russian economy,” Jacob Bogage and Aaron Gregg report for the Washington Post.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Mohammad Ahmad al-Qahtani, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, has been repatriated to his home country of Saudi Arabia for mental health treatment, after two decades of being in U.S. custody, the Department of Defense has said. Al-Qahtani, who was accused of attempting to join hijackers in carrying out the Sep. 11 attacks, was flown back to a treatment facility in Saudi Arabia after a review board including military and intelligence officials concluded that he was no longer a significant threat to national security and could be safely released. Al-Qahtani has suffered from mental illness, including schizophrenia, since childhood, according to medical examinations and records obtained by his lawyers. The Guardian staff and agencies report.
Iran’s chief negotiator at the talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal unexpectedly left Vienna yesterday night. Iranian officials said that Vagheri-Kani would soon return to Vienna, however, two Western diplomats have said that it is not clear why he left or when he would return. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
North Korea appears to have started repairing a closed nuclear testing site, according to satellite images. The site was shut in 2018 and some parts were blown up after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promised to halt all nuclear tests. “The satellite images showed ‘very early signs of activity’ which took place only in the last few days, including construction of a new building, repair of an existing one, and lumber and sawdust at Punggye-Ri, according to a report by analysts from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies,” BBC News reports.
North Korea’s missile launches could be groundwork for a return to intercontinental ballistic missile launches and nuclear bomb tests this year, the U.S. Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) has said in its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. The DNI report said that Kim Jong-un remained strongly committed to expanding his nuclear weapons arsenal, as well as ballistic missile research and development. Reuters reports.
Russia understands North Korea’s decision to renew frequent missile launches and sees no prerequisites to restart Korea denuclearization talks since Washington has chosen to pursue the path of sanctions against Pyongyang, Pyotr Ilyichyov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s international organizations division, has been quoted by the state-owned RIA news agency as saying. Ilyichyov said that when Pyongyang paused missile tests before there had been an increase in military cooperation between Seoul and Washington. Reuters reports.
South Korea’s military has seized a North Korean boat that crossed into its waters today, and fired a warning shot to see off a North Korean patrol vessel that tried to intervene, Seoul officials have said. “Seven unarmed sailors were aboard the vessel, but six appeared to be wearing uniforms, a South Korean military official said,” Hyonhee Shin reports for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Gunmen ambushed and killed at least 62 members of a volunteer vigilante group in Nigeria’s northwestern Kebbi state, the head of the group and a police spokesperson has said. “Usman Sani, the head of the ‘Yan Sa Kai’ vigilante group in Kebbi, told Reuters that his group had planned to attack bandits in the Sakaba area on Sunday night but someone tipped them off,” Gabra Muhammad reports for Reuters.
Iran has successfully put a second military satellite, the Noor 2, into orbit, the semi-official news agency Tasnim has reported. The U.S. military has previously said that the same long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also allow Tehran to launch longer-range weapons, possibly including nuclear warheads, something which Tehran denies it is doing. Reuters reports.
A Palestinian man has been shot dead by Israeli police after he stapped two officers at a gate to Jerusalem’s walled Old City, an Israeli police statement has said. Hamas claimed the attacker as a member and praised the stabbing attack as a response to what it called Israel’s “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Reuters reports.
A court has heard the final arguments in the first criminal trial stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. In their closing arguments, prosecutors said that defendant Guy Reffitt came to believe potentially violent means were needed to remove Washington lawmakers he deemed corrupt, and that he was a leader of the mob that attacked the capitol. “The defense, which called no witnesses, made a final brief statement saying Reffitt was guilty only of being in a restricted area outside the Capitol that day,” Alexa Corse and Aruna Viswanatha report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Senate has unanimously approved a bill that would make lynching a federal hate crime. Under the measure, the crime is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Emily Cochrane reports for the New York Times.
The Supreme Court has allowed congressional maps that had been approved by state courts in North Carolina and Pennsylvania to stand. The court rejected requests by Republicans to restore maps approved by the Republican-controlled state legislatures. “Under the new court-imposed maps in both states, Democrats are likely to gain more seats than they would have under the legislature-approved versions,” Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times.
The White House is set to release an executive order tasking several federal agencies with conducting a broad review of cryptocurrencies, including studying the creation of a U.S. digital currency. The executive order will task the Treasury, Commerce, State and Justice departments, among other agencies, with studying elements of the fast-growing cryptocurrency market, a person familiar with the matter said. Andrew Duehren reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The “Peoples Convoy” of trucks, cars and SUVs protesting the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic circled the Capital beltway in Washington, D.C. yesterday for a second day. Brian Brase, a convoy organizer, told participants that the convoy would again avoid entering Washington, D.C. and authorities have said that the traffic disruptions yesterday were minimal. Madeleine Ngo and Adam Bednar report for the New York Times.
The People’s Convoy group has also secured a meeting in Washington with Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). An advisory from Johnson’s office has said that the senators would meet on Capitol Hill with convoy members “to discuss the harmful effects of President Biden’s vaccine mandates.” Ellie Silverman, Karina Elwood, Justin George and Lori Aratani report for the Washington Post.
The U.S. has adopted new policies which ease the path to obtaining green cards for immigrant minors who are victims of parental abuse and neglect. “The rules from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services expand the pool of individuals who are eligible for ‘special immigrant juvenile’ status and clarify the types of evidence that must be submitted to support an application,” Daniel Wiessner reports for Reuters.
The trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor Gretchen Whitmer (D), is due to begin with jury selection today. Prosecutors say the men, some of whom are alleged militia members, targeted Whitmer over COVID-19 rules she imposed early in the pandemic. However, lawyers for the men say that the government’s evidence is flimsy and proves nothing. BBC News reports.
COVID-19 has infected over 79.39 million people and has now killed over 960,300 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 447.90 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.00 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.