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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
An aircraft repair plant in the western city of Lviv, about 50 miles from the border with Poland, has been stuck by Russian missiles, the city’s Mayor Andriy Sadovy has said. Lviv has been a safe haven for Ukrainians fleeing violence since the war began. Valarie Hopkins reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of deliberately attacking the Mariupol theater yesterday, adding that the death toll is still unknown. Isabel Coles and Brett Forrest report for the Wall Street Journal.
Between 50 and 100 bombs are dropped daily on the southern port city of Mariupol, local authorities said yesterday evening in a statement posted to the city’s official Telegram channel. Amy Cheng reports for the Washington Post.
Russian forces have stalled amid stiff Ukrainian resistance and a struggle to resupply the Kremlin’s front line with food and fuel, U.S. and U.K. officials have said. Ukrainian counterattacks are forcing Russia to divert “large numbers of troops”’ to guard supply lines, which is severely limiting Russia’s offensive potential, the British Defense Ministry said early today. A senior U.S. defense official separately told reporters that Russia is also struggling to send arms and ammunition to its forces. Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS AND REFUGEES
Nearly 4,000 people were evacuated from besieged Ukrainian cities yesterday, officials have said. Eight of the nine “humanitarian corridors” announced yesterday operated successfully, allowing people to get out and food and supplies to get in, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said. Reis Thebault reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will speak today, as the U.S. works to deter China from deeper involvement with Russia during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to Biden administration officials, Biden is preparing to deliver a message that there would be consequences should Beijing’s support for Russia move beyond words to actions. The call comes as Beijing attempts to present itself as eager to help prevent the Ukrainian crisis from escalating – without abandoning its alignment with Moscow. Lingling Wei and Alex Leary report for the Wall Street Journal.
A Chinese aircraft carrier has sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, just hours before Xi and Biden are scheduled to talk, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. Yimou Lee reports for Reuters.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned yesterday that the U.S. believes that Putin is setting the stage for a chemical weapons attack. He further said that the U.S. believes Russia would bring in mercenaries from private military groups and foreign countries, noting that Putin authorized additional forces for the Middle East and elsewhere. Blinken also said that Russian forces would likely “systematically kidnap local officials and replace them with puppets.” Jordan Williams reports for The Hill.
Blinken has echoed Biden’s assessment of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, saying that Putin would be held accountable. “Yesterday, President Biden said that, in his opinion, war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. Personally, I agree,” Blinken said, citing a list of horrific Russian attacks that have killed unarmed Ukrainians, including children. “Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime,” he added. Michael Crowley reports for the New York Times.
Biden called Putin a “murderous dictator” and a “pure thug” during a Friends of Ireland event yesterday. The comments form part of a string of statements against the Russian president, including Biden’s assertion on Wednesday that Putin was a “war criminal.” Maureen Breslin reports for The Hill.
The House voted 424-to-8 yesterday to strip Russia of its preferential trade status with the United States. The bill, which would allow the U.S. to impose higher tariffs on Russian goods, is the latest in a series of measures that lawmakers have approved to support Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion. Catie Edmondson reports for the New York Times.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and several other Republican senators introduced legislation yesterday seeking to ban imports of Russian uranium. The legislation would further steps taken by the U.S. to prohibit Russian energy imports and would serve as an additional way to economically isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Caroline Vakil reports for The Hill.
Three current and former members of the Tennessee National Guard, who were falsely identified in a Russian media report as mercenaries who were killed in Ukraine, are in fact alive and well, the Tennessee National Guard confirmed yesterday. Phil Stewart reports for Reuters.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke yesterday with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, revealing Russia’s precise demands for a peace deal with Ukraine. According to Erdoğan’s leading adviser and spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, Russia’s demands include Ukraine’s acceptance that it should be neutral, a commitment to undergo disarmament, protection for the Russian language, and the ‘deNazification’ of Ukraine. Putin also said that there would need to be face-to-face negotiation between him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before an agreement could be reached, on more contentious issues, including the status of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. John Simpson reports for BBC News.
Zelenskyy addressed Germany’s parliament yesterday, saying that a new type of Berlin Wall is being built, dividing Europe between freedom and oppression. Zelenskyy thanked Germany for its support during Russia’s invasion, but criticized German energy policy and business interests for contributing to the division. Damien McGuinness reports for BBC News.
Slovakia’s Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad’ said yesterday, in a speech alongside U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, that his country is prepared to send long-range surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine “immediately” provided that Western allies give them a “proper replacement” to avoid creating a security gap. Karoun Demirjian and Daniel Lamothe report for the Washington Post.
Poland will formally submit a proposal for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine at the next NATO summit, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said today. Alan Charlish and Justyna Pawlak report for Reuters.
South Korea is moving its diplomatic staff out of Lviv, in Ukraine’s west, due to “heightened military threats” around the city, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The country’s personnel will be relocated to the southwestern Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi and to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Min Joo Kim reports for the Washington Post.
India has bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia, and is looking to secure more supplies in the weeks ahead, two Indian government officials have said. “The deal runs counter to efforts by [President] Biden[‘s] administration and its Western allies to squeeze Russia’s economy over its invasion of Ukraine. It also risks further straining New Delhi’s relationship with Washington. Despite U.S. pressure, India abstained from a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Rajesh Roy, Vibhuti Agarwal and Philip Wen report for the Wall Street Journal.
Ofcom, the U.K.’s media regulator, has revoked Russian state-backed broadcaster Russia Today’s license to broadcast in the U.K. with immediate effect. The move has been criticized by both RT and the Kremlin, with the latter calling the decision “madness.” BBC News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
A 68-year-old American man, James Whitney Hill, was killed yesterday in a Russian assault on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv. Hill and his partner Ira, who is Ukrainian, had traveled to Chernihiv in December so that she could be treated for multiple sclerosis. Megan Specia and Michael Schwirtz report for the New York Times.
The deputy head of the Russian national guard, General Roman Gavrilov, is believed to have been detained for allegedly leaking information about Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. The detention could be a “sign that … Putin may be seeking scapegoats for his army’s failure to achieve rapid victory,” Tom Ball reports for the Times.
Russian government websites and state-run media are facing an “unprecedented” wave of hacking attacks, the Russian Ministry of Digital Development and Communications said yesterday, prompting regulators to filter traffic coming from abroad. Mary Ilyushina reports for the Washington Post.
In rural Russia, support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s military operations in Ukraine is unwavering. In the small Russian town of Torzhok “a hundred cars, many festooned with Russian flags and plastered with stickers proclaiming ‘For Russia! For Victory!’ converged on the main square … those sentiments are widely shared among Russians across the country who believe Moscow’s military action in Ukraine is justified,” Ann M. Simmons reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Though no formal meeting has been scheduled yet, Saudi Arabia has said that it looks forward to welcoming U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the near future. Aziz El Yaakoubi reports for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N. Security Council renewed the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan yesterday. “In light of the rapidly evolving situation on the ground, the mission will focus on coordinating the provision of humanitarian assistance, providing outreach and good offices for dialogue, and promoting good governance and the rule of law,” UN News Centre reports.
Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal issued a ruling yesterday to release the former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori from prison, where he has served less than 15 years of a 25-year sentence for committing human rights abuses during his dictatorship. Mitra Taj reports for the New York Times.
The U.N. human rights office has released a report warning that serious rights abuses uncovered in Myanmar may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the report, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, appealed to the international community to take “concerted, immediate measures to stem the spiral of violence,” the UN News Centre reports.
The U.K. Court of Appeal has ruled that U.K. intelligence services who allegedly asked the CIA to put questions to a detainee who was being tortured in “black sites” were subject to the law of England and Wales at the time and not that of the countries in which the detainee was being held. The three appeal judges were asked to decide whether Guantanamo Bay detainee, Abu Zubaydah, has the right to sue the U.K. government in England. Haroon Siddique reports for the Guardian.
JAN. 6, 2021 ATTACK
A man pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of assault on law enforcement with a dangerous weapon in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and faces a possible prison sentence of at least three years. Lucas Denney, who was arrested in December, spent nearly three months in jail without a hearing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui, expressed outrage at this and apologized to the defendant for his treatment. Tom Jackman reports for the Washington Post.
The DoJ has unsealed charges against a 23-year-old Wisconsin man who allegedly told associates it was “satisfying” to assault U.S. Capitol Police officers during the Jan. 6 attack. Riley Kasper was arrested yesterday and is facing six federal charges, including assaulting law enforcement using a deadly or dangerous weapon. Tara Subramaniam and Hannah Rabinowitz report for CNN.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) is looking to sentence a flower shop owner to 75 days in jail for allegedly bragging about their involvement in the Jan. 6 attack. The shop owner Jenny Chudd, in a video posted on social media, said that she was proud that she “charged the Capitol” with “patriots.” Ryan J. Reilly reports for NBC News.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A Louisiana high school student who was captured on video appearing to throw cotton balls at a Black student and whip him several times with a belt was arrested on Tuesday on a hate crimes charge, the Terrebonne Parish sheriff has said. Christine Hauser reports for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 79.68 million people and has now killed over 970,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 466.03 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.07 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.