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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
Russian airstrikes have hit an apartment building in Kyiv this morning, killing two people. Shortly before dawn today, a series of strikes hit a residential neighborhood in the capital. The shelling ignited a huge fire and a frantic rescue effort in a 15-storey apartment building. AP reports.
Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles that Russia is firing in Ukraine are also releasing a previously unknown decoy designed to evade air-defense systems, U.S. intelligence has found. Each device is filled with electronics that produce radio signals to jam or spoof enemy radars attempting to locate the Iskander-M, and contains a heat source to attract incoming missiles. “The use of the decoys may help explain why Ukrainian air-defense weapons have had difficulty intercepting Russia’s Iskander missiles,” John Ismay reports for the New York Times.
Russia’s missile attack on a Ukrainian military base near the Polish border was launched from long-range bombers flying inside Russian airspace, the Pentagon has said. According to a senior U.S. defense official, the attack did not disrupt shipments of Western military aid, despite Russia’s claims to the contrary. Alex Horton reports for the Washington Post.
Nearly all Russian advances in Ukraine remain stalled due in part to “creative” strikes from Ukrainian forces which limit Russian forces’ ability to resupply, a senior U.S. defense official has said. The Ukrainian forces, as well as attacking Russia’s combat capability, have also “effectively struck at the Russian logistics and sustainment capabilities,” the official told reporters. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
A curfew is to be imposed on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv from 20:00 pm (01:00 pm EST) today until 07:00 am (12:00 am EST) on Thursday after recent bombardments of the city. BBC News reports.
New satellite images show the extent of the destruction in Mariupol, where Russian forces have fired on residential areas and encircled the city. Rachel Pannett reports for the Washington Post.
Russian missile strikes have targeted the airport in Dnipro in eastern Ukraine, regional authorities have said. BBC News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS AND REFUGEES
More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, the U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said. A spokesperson for UNICEF, the U.N.’s child protection agency, has said that 1.5 million Ukrainian children — half the IOM’s total number of refugees — have become refugees since the start of the conflict. Annabelle Timsit reports for the Washington Post.
The Red Cross is hoping to organize the evacuation of two convoys of 30 buses with civilians out of the besieged northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, a spokesperson said yesterday. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will deliver a virtual address to members of Congress on Wednesday at 9am EST. Clare Foran reports for CNN.
11 Russian defense officials and arm-industry figures will be added to the list of individuals sanctioned in response to the invasion of Ukraine, according to a statement from the U.S. State Department. William Mauldin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), has expressed surprise that Russia has not launched a more destructive cyberattack against Ukraine and the West despite having the capability to do so. There are two possible reasons for this, Warner said. First, Russia probably assumed they would win the war in Ukraine relatively quickly. Second, destructive cyberattacks could completely damage Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, which would be expensive to rebuild. Ines Kagubare reports for The Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – CHINA
During a seven-hour meeting in Rome yesterday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a direct warning to his Chinese counterpart about the potential consequences of any assistance that Beijing might provide Russia in its war with Ukraine. The meeting came amid reports that President Biden is considering a trip to Europe in the coming weeks to rally and reassure allies. Ashley Parker, Dan Lamothe, Chico Harlan and Cate Cadell report for the Washington Post.
Following the U.S.-China meeting yesterday, U.S. officials fear that China has already decided to provide Russia with economic and financial support during its war in Ukraine and is contemplating sending military supplies such as armed drones. Although yesterday’s meeting was not about negotiations but about a “direct exchange of views,” according to a senior administration official, the U.S. delegation walked away from the meeting pessimistic that the Chinese government would change its minds about backing Moscow. Julian Borger reports for the Guardian.
While the U.S. presses China over its support for Russia, China is trying to shift the attention towards its efforts to help prevent the Ukraine crisis from deepening. However, Beijing’s reluctance to distance itself from Moscow undermines its credibility in the eyes of the West and limits any role it can play towards getting Russia to back down. Lingling Wei provides analysis for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The International Court of Justice will issue a ruling today on allegations of genocide against Russia, according to a statement by the court. Monique Beals reports for the Hill.
The E.U. has approved a fourth set of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, including a broad ban on investment in Russia’s energy sector, a ban on selling high value luxury goods and new targeted sanctions against oligarchs. However, E.U. diplomats have said that divisions have started to re-emerge over how fast to push ahead with Russian sanctions. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Leaders from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, all members of the E.U. and NATO, have headed to Kyiv, to meet Ukrainian leaders and offer support. Drew Hinshaw reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, has asked that Russia be ousted immediately from the Council of Europe, a body charged with upholding human rights on the European continent. Paulina Villegas reports for the Washington Post.
In a live address to Western leaders this morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the Russian “war machine” has to be stopped “or else they will also come to you.” Zelensky also thanked countries that have “taken a moral stance” against Russia over the invasion. The Guardian reports.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, has warned that Russia’s war on Ukraine is holding “a sword of Damocles” over the global economy, especially poor developing countries that face skyrocketing food, fuel and fertilizer prices. AP reports.
The U.K. government is considering using London mansions linked to Russian oligarchs to help refugees. “I want to explore an option which would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned individuals for as long as they are sanctioned for humanitarian and other purposes,” U.K. Housing minister Michael Gove said on Sunday. However, analysts have said that property seizure is different from applying sanctions and freezing assets and would likely raise significant legal challenges. Karla Adam reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Diplomatic efforts to end Russia’s war in Ukraine showed no signs of progress yesterday, with negotiations pausing as fighting in Kyiv intensified. Alan Cullison reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Russian woman, Marina Ovsyannikova, ran onto the set of an evening news program on Russian state television’s Channel One yesterday holding a poster reading: “No war. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They lie to you here. Russians against war.” She also yelled: “Stop the war, no to war”, before the camera cut away. TASS and OVD-Info, a human rights group that tracks demonstrations and helps protesters find lawyers, reported that the woman had been detained and taken to a Moscow police station. Evan Gershkovich reports for the Wall Street Journal.
In his nightly TV address, Zelensky called on Russian forces to surrender, saying that Russia had suffered worse losses during their invasion of Ukraine than in the Chechnya conflict. He also paid tribute to Ovsyannikova, the woman who interrupted Russian state TV news by holding up an anti-war sign. BBC News reports.
Russia has suggested that it will soon default on its debts – the first time it will have failed to meet its foreign debt obligations since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago. Half of the country’s foreign reserves — roughly $315 billion — have been frozen by Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine, Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said on Sunday. As a result, Moscow will repay creditors from “countries that are unfriendly” in Rubles until the sanctions are lifted, he said. Charles Riley reports for CNN.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute yesterday to U.S. journalist Brent Renaud, who was killed while reporting outside Kyiv. In a letter to Renaud’s family, which was also posted on Twitter, Zelensky called Renaud “a talented and brave journalist” who “lost his life while documenting human tragedy, devastation and suffering of the millions of Ukrainians.” Annabelle Timsit and Elahe Izadi report for the Washington Post.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Although U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that Russia’s demands could completely derail efforts to revive the Iran nuclear agreement, this may be a blessing for President Biden as he faces growing pressure in Washington to abandon the deal. Nahal Toosi and Stephanie Liechtenstein provide analysis for POLITICO.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Saudi Arabia has invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Riyadh as the kingdom looks to deepen its ties with Beijing amid strained relations with Washington. “The trip comes amid shifting geopolitics in the Middle East, as the U.S. looks to focus more attention and resources on Asia while China and Russia expand their influence in the region,” Stephen Kalin and Summer Said report for the Wall Street Journal.
A number of Israeli government websites went down on Monday in an apparent cyberattack. Whilst all services have since been restored, a defense establishment source has claimed that this was the largest-ever cyberattack carried out against Israel. Al Jazeera reports.
North Korea has described two recent missile launches, which flew higher than the International Space Station, as satellite tests. This comes after the U.S. and South Korea warned last week that North Korea could try cloaking a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile launch as a satellite test, raising suspicions of deception. Timothy W. Martin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Chadian authorities have handed over a former Central African Republic militia leader accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, to the International Criminal Court, according to a statement made by the court yesterday. France 24 reports.
The U.K. Supreme Court has refused Jullian Assange’s latest appeal against extradition to the United States. A court spokesperson said that Assange’s application did not raise “an arguable point of law,” which is required for an appeal to be allowed. The decision is a major blow to Assange’s hopes to avoid extradition. However, his lawyer has said that he has not ruled out launching a final appeal. Victoria Lindrea reports for BBC News.
A top court in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has upheld a government order banning Muslim girls from wearing headscarves inside schools, in “a ruling that is likely to heighten tensions at a time when India is increasingly polarized along religious lines,” Sameer Yasir reports for the New York Times.
“A Taiwanese jet fighter plunged into the sea Monday, the second such incident this year and the seventh since the start of 2020, leading the island’s air force to ground some of its military aircraft amid growing tensions with China,” Joyu Wang reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A London-based group that campaigns for human rights in Hong Kong have said that national security officials from the city have threatened its leader with imprisonment and demanded it take down its website. Elaine Yu reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A suspect in a series of shootings targeting homeless men in New York and Washington was arrested this morning, according to police in Washington. Daniel Victor and Jenny Gross report for the New York Times.
A man has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, after a vicious assault on an Asian woman in Yonkers, N.Y. Ed Shanahan reports for the New York Times.
A Seattle man has pleaded guilty to trying to leave the U.S. and joining the Islamic State terrorist organization. Olifimihan Oshin reports for the Hill.
A Democratic super political action committee said yesterday that it is filing a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, accusing former President Trump of violating campaign finance law by spending political funds on a 2024 presidential bid without formally declaring himself a candidate. Shane Goldmacher reports for the New York Times.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
A document found by federal prosecutors in the possession of Enrique Tarrio, the chair of the far-right group Proud Boys, has revealed a detailed plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year, sources have said. The document could help explain why prosecutors chose to charge Tarrio with conspiracy, even though he was not at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack. Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times.
Federal Prosecutors yesterday asked a judge to keep Tarrio in prison while he awaits trial on conspiracy charges stemming from the Jan. 6 attack. “Justice Department attorneys said in a court filing that Enrique Tarrio should not be released because he poses a danger to the community and constitutes a flight risk during his court proceedings,” Harper Neidig reports for The Hill.
Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said in an interview published by the Washington Free Beacon yesterday, that she attended the Jan. 6 rally at the Ellipse in Washington, but left before former President Trump addressed the crowd. Thomas has previously pushed back against the ongoing investigation by a House select committee into the Jan. 6 attack. Danny Hakim and Jo Becker report for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 79.56 million people and has now killed over 967,600 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 459.90 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.05 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
Former President Obama said yesterday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Obama said that he is feeling “fine” and that his wife has tested negative. AP reports.
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.