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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 rocket fire has hit a TV tower in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, knocking out the city’s broadcasting facilities, according to a statement from Ukraine’s state communication services. CNN reports.
At least 500 civilians have been killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, since the start of the war, according to the city’s emergency services. Michael Schwirtz reports for the New York Times.
Mykolaiv, a city of about 500,00 people on Ukraine’s Black Sea shoreline, is holding up against Russian advances in a major blow to the Kremlin’s apparent plans for an attack on Odessa, an economic lifeline for Ukraine. Isabelle Khurshudyan reports for the Washington Post.
More than 600 buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv since the start of Russia’s invasion, the city’s Mayor, Ihor Terehov, said during a televised interview yesterday. Reuters reports.
Russia troops are “struggling” to advance in Ukraine following “challenges posed by Ukraine’s terrain,” according to the U.K.’s Defense Ministry, in an intelligence update issued today. Jennifer Hassan reports for the Washington Post.
Russia is calling up reinforcements from across the entire country following “continued personnel losses” in Ukraine, according to a public intelligence assessment released yesterday by the U.K. Ministry of Defense. Josh Campbell reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal. “The resolution, introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and backed by senators of both parties, encouraged the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and other nations to target the Russian military in any investigation of war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Moira Warburton reports for Reuters.
The Biden administration is set to unveil an $800 million security aid package for Ukraine today, according to a White House official. The announcement will mean that the U.S. will have offered Ukraine $2 billion worth of defense support under President Biden, with $1 billion of that being announced in the past week. Andrew Jeong and Ashley Parker report for the Washington Post.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R -Tenn.) are set to introduce a resolution that would, if passed, say the Senate supports sanctioning all Russian banks. Eliza Collins reports for the Wall Street Journal.
In an interview with NPR, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has said that merely stopping the invasion of Ukraine may not be enough for Russia to gain relief from Western economic sanctions. According to Blinken, any Russia pullback would have to be, “in effect, irreversible,” so that “this can’t happen again.” Steve Inskeep reports for NPR.
Blinken spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba yesterday, about efforts by Western allies to assist Ukraine’s government in the fight against Russia. “The two also discussed U.S. and allied efforts to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for the war, and Mr. Blinken also vowed that the U.S. would continue providing security, economic and humanitarian support for Ukraine,” Vivian Salama reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Russia’s foreign ministry says it has imposed sanctions on U.S. President Joe Biden and 12 other U.S. officials. The list includes Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, press secretary Jen Psaki, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Biden’s son Hunter. BBC News reports.
Russian President Vladmir Putin hasn’t spoken to President Biden since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but contact between the two leaders can resume if necessary, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said today. Sarah Dean reports for CNN.
Republican and Democratic senators have warned there will be strong political support for hitting China with economic penalties if it helps Russia evade U.S. and European Union sanctions or ships military hardware to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Alexander Bolton reports for The Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
NATO will discuss stepping up defenses along its eastern front as Russia’s attack encroaches on the alliance’s borders, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday. NATO defense ministers will meet today to discuss ways of helping Ukraine and deterring Russian aggression without getting drawn into a wider conflict. Victoria Kim reports for the New York Times.
The Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers have returned to Poland after their visit to Kyiv. The delegation traveled to Kyiv by train to show solidarity with Ukraine and were the first to visit the capital since the start of the war. Adam Easton reports for BBC News.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked the leaders of the three NATO member countries who traveled into Ukraine’s war-torn capital for a meeting yesterday and has urged others to do the same. Azi Paybarah reports for the New York Times.
Turkey has asked the Biden administration to play down any public comments regarding Turkey’s security assistance to Ukraine, expressing concern that its involvement might provoke retaliation, U.S. officials have said. Vivian Salama reports for the Wall Street Journal.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said the prospect of nuclear conflict is “now back within the realm of possibility.” In remarks to reporters, Guterres called Putin’s decision to raise Russia’s nuclear forces alert levels last month a “bone-chilling development” and said further escalation of the war in Ukraine would threaten all of humanity. Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.
Lithuania’s president has said that the country was willing to stop using Russian oil and gas, “in the latest sign of how some EU nations plan to step up penalties on Moscow for invading Ukraine,” Victoria Craig reports for BBC News.
Russia has said that it would pull out of the Council of Europe following pressure for Moscow to be expelled from the European rights body over its invasion of Ukraine. The Russian foreign ministry said yesterday that it had given notification of its departure to Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric. Al Jazeera reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – DIPLOMACY
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said yesterday that negotiations with Russia were heading in a “more realistic” direction. “The meetings continue, and I am informed that the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic,” Zelenskyy said. Adela Suliman and Hannah Knowles report for the Washington Post.
Russia’s foreign minister has said today there is some hope of a breakthrough in talks with Ukraine and that neutrality for Ukrainian neutrality is being seriously discussed. Henry Austin reports for NBC News.
Mukhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymer Zelenskyy, has said that the country’s government rejected the idea floated by Russia that Ukraine should adopt a Swedish or Austrian model of neutrality. Time Lister and Julia Kesa report for CNN.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, plans to meet Sergey Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, in Moscow today, before heading to Ukraine. “Turkey has been pushing for a bigger role in mediating an end to the war, including hosting Lavrov and Ukraine’s top diplomat last week,” Elif Ince reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
A Fox News cameraman and a Ukrainian journalist traveling with him were killed on Monday in Ukraine when their vehicle came under fire outside Kyiv. Michael Grynbaum reports for the New York Times.
Russian journalist Marina Ovyannikova has been fined and released after she protested against the war in Ukraine on a live TV news programme and made an anti-war video. She said she had been questioned for 14 hours and not slept for two days, and was not given access to legal help. BBC News reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy admitted yesterday that Ukraine is unlikely to join NATO as he made a call for increased security commitments from the West. Brad Dress reports for The Hill.
Zelenskyy has dismissed suggestions he is ready to surrender as a “childish provocation,” after a fake banner appeared on a Ukrainian newscast saying the president was calling on his people to lay down their weapons. Andrew Carey reports for CNN.
Analysis has shown that traffic to Russian state media sites tanked on Youtube and Facebook following action by the companies. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Jeremy B Merrill and Gerrit De Vynck report for the Washington Post.
Ukrainian security services claimed yesterday that a hacker who had assisted Russia had been detained by officials. Caroline Vakil reports for The Hill.
The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency has said the country’s fate will be decided in the coming days. In a speech to a panel event in Moscow, he focused on the importance of sovereignty, telling delegates “sovereignty is a guarantee of the well-being and dignity of our citizens, this is the future of our children”. BBC News reports.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Russia has retreated on its demands on the Iran nuclear deal, clearing the way for the revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Russia earlier this month had demanded guarantees from Washington that its economic ties with Iran wouldn’t be affected by western sanctions imposed on Moscow over Ukraine. However, a senior western diplomat said yesterday evening that Russia’s chief negotiator at the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, had informed the European Union that Russia would accept narrower guarantees ensuring that Russia could carry out the nuclear work it is mandated to do under the 2015 nuclear deal. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. military withdrawals from Afghanistan and Somalia has limited the U.S.’s ability to conduct counterterrorism operations against groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, U.S. generals in charge of the Middle East and Africa told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday. Karoun Demirjian reports for the Washington Post.
Canada and the U.S. have issued a rare public notice over planned military exercises in the Arctic, amid growing concern over Russian aggression. The North American Aerospace Defense Command said yesterday that the drills, which will start today, were meant to test the ability to “respond to both aircraft and cruise missiles” threatening the continent. Leyland Cecco reports for the Guardian.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
North Korea test fired an unknown projectile at 9.30am local time, however the launch was unsuccessful, according to a South Korean military official. Japan’s Defense Ministry said it was aware of the launch but was unable to confirm the flight of any ballistic missile. Timothy w. Martin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Yesterday the U.N. Security Council extended its peacekeeping mission in South Sudan for a year. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 13-0, with Russia and China abstaining, both calling the measure unbalanced for focusing too much on human rights in the East African nation. Edith M. Lederer reports for AP.
Two British citizens imprisoned in Iran for several years could be released imminently, possibly within hours, according to two sources with direct knowledge of discussions between London and Tehran. Talks are underway for the release of aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, dual U.K.-Iranian citizens who have been imprisoned on what the U.K. government maintains were trumped-up charges while visiting family in Iran. Dan De Luce and Dareh Gregorian report for NBC News.
Prosecutors have opened talks with lawyers for the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and his four co-defendants to negotiate a potential plea agreement that would drop the possibility of execution. Guilty pleas in exchange for life sentences could bring an end to the long-running case, which has been mired in pretrial proceedings focusing on the C.I.A.’s torture of the defendants. Carol Rosenberg and Charlie Savage report for the New York Times.
A U.N. expert told the Human Rights Council yesterday that she had received a preliminary invitation from Washington to Guantanamo Bay, in what could lead to the first-ever visit by a U.N. representative. Emma Farge reports for U.S. News.
More that 40 Democratic House members have called on the Defense Department to brief Congress on the administration’s progress towards reducing civilian injuries and deaths from U.S. military operations overseas. In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, the members “expressed concern over counterterrorism operations conducted by the U.S. military, including airstrikes, that have resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and many more injuries over years of American involvement in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria,” Aishvarya Kavi report for the New York Times.
United States naval engineer Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana, who pleaded guilty last month to espionage, offered thousands of pages of classified documents to Brazil, a senior Brazilian official and other people briefed on the investigation have revealed. Until now the identity of the nation approached by the Toebbes has remained shielded by federal prosecutors. Julian E. Barnes, Andre Spigariol, Jack Nicas and Adam Goldman report for the New York Times.
Prosecutors in Chicago said yesterday that they would not file charges against the officer who fatally shot 13 year old Adam Toledo and 22 year old Anthony Alvarez. Kim Foxx, the state’s attorney for Cook County said that whilst the officers might have violated the department’s policy, evidence did not support the filing of criminal charges. Vimal Patel reports for the New York Times.
The gunman in a 2018 attack on a yoga studio in Florida that left two dead and five injured had a history of “misogynistic extremism”, which was missed by the authorities, the U.S. Secret Service has found in a new report published yesterday. Neil Vigdor reports for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 79.58 million people and has now killed over 966,600 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 461.80 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 on Sunday 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.