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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 – BUCHA, WAR CRIMES ALLEGATIONS
In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that more than 300 people had been tortured and killed in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, adding that the list of victims is likely to grow. A translation of his remarks is provided by his office. Jesus Jimenez reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to address the U.N. Security Council today, following allegations of war crimes against hundreds of civilians in Bucha and other towns, following the withdrawal of Russian forces near Kyiv. James Hookway reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has cast doubt on the possibility of meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after he accused Russia of genocide. “It might happen that there will be no negotiations,” Zelenskyy said on Ukrainian state TV today. Niamh Kennedy and Yulia Kesaieva report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – BUCHA, U.S. REPONSE
The U.S. is working with Ukraine and other European countries to organise a vote to force Russia out of the U.N. Human Rights Council. “The images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us now to match our words with action,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told reporters yesterday. “We cannot let a member state that is subverting every principle we hold dear to continue to sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.” William Mauldin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
President Biden said yesterday that the atrocities allegedly committed by Russian forces in Bucha, constitute a “war crime” and called for the trial of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Allie Malloy and Maegan Vazquez report for CNN.
The U.S. plans to unveil additional sanctions on Russia this week, White House Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said yesterday, condemning reports of atrocities in Ukraine while declining to label Russian forces’ alleged actions as genocide. Andrew Restuccia reports for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – BUCHA, GLOBAL RESPONSE
In a statement yesterday, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said that reports emerging from Bucha and other areas, “raise serious and disturbing questions about possible war crimes, grave breaches of international humanitarian law, and serious violations of international human rights law.” She also echoed U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for an independent investigation into what happened in Bucha. UN News Centre reports.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, has accused Ukraine of “staging” the bodies of dead civilians in Bucha, calling the images and videos of them “brute forgery.” “Western leaders have already lined up to promote this false narrative,” he said at a news conference at the U.N. Farnaz Fassihi reports for the New York Times.
The European Commission is set to propose broad new sanctions on Russia today. The sanctions will include a ban on imports of Russian coal, blocking new machinery exports to Russia, targeting Russian oligarchs and some family members and slashing the access of Russian road and shipping goods carriers into the bloc. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Germany and France said they were expelling dozens of Russian diplomats yesterday in response to Moscow’s alleged war crimes against civilians in Ukraine. Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock announced that Germany was expelling 40 Russians, saying that the diplomats had worked to undermine the freedom and unity of German society. Similarly, France will expel 35 Russian diplomats “whose activities are contrary to our security interest,” a French official said. Bojan Pancevski reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Denmark and Italy have moved to expel dozens of Russian diplomats – the latest European nations to do so after evidence emerged of possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Annabelle Timsit reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Residents in Rubizhne, a city in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, have been advised to stay indoors after a tank holding nitric acid was hit by a Russian strike. Megan Specia reports for the New York Times.
The Russian military has claimed it carried out long-range strikes with sea-launched missiles on what it described as a training center for Ukrainian special operations forces in southern Ukraine. Nathan Hodge reports for CNN.
White House Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan has said that while Russia is refocusing offensive operations on eastern and southern Ukraine, Moscow will likely continue to strike the rest of the country “to cause terror.” “The next stage of this conflict may very well be protracted,” he told reporters, and “will likely continue to include wanton and brazen attacks on civilian targets.” A video of Sullivan’s comments is provided by the New York Times. Katie Rogers reports.
Russian forces that withdrew near Chernihiv and Kyiv will need significant amounts of new equipment and repairs before they can be redeployed, according to the latest British defense intelligence update. Low-level fighting is likely to continue in some parts of the newly recaptured regions, but diminish significantly over this week. BBC News reports.
A civilian ship in the port of Mariupol is on fire and sinking after being hit by Russian troops, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Interior. The ship, under a Dominican Republic flag, was berthed in the port when it was hit by shells during an ongoing attack on the besieged southern Ukrainian city, the ministry said on Telegram. Nathan Hodge reports for CNN.
Residents in Chernihiv have been left without access to heat due to “damage to critical infrastructure” during fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, the head of the local regional state administration, Vyacheslav Chaus, has said. Chantal Da Silva report for NBC News.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS
Aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were detained in Russian-held territory while attempting to evacuate desperate residents of Mariupol, according to an ICRC spokesperson. They have since been released. Nathan Hodge, Yulia Kesaieva, Niamh Kennedy and Amy Cassidy report for CNN.
Seven humanitarian corridors, agreed on by Russia and Ukraine, will operate today, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a daily update on Telegram – including a route for private vehicles from the besieged city of Mariupol. Adela Suliman and Amar Nadhir report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS, U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. Treasury has halted dollar debt payments from Russian government accounts at U.S. banks, increasing pressure on Moscow to find alternative funding sources to pay bond investors. The move is designed to force Russia into choosing amongst three unappealing options – draining dollar reserves held in the country, spending new revenue, or going into default, a spokesperson from the Treasury has said. Daniel Flatley reports for Bloomberg.
The U.S. successfully tested a hypersonic missile in mid-March but kept it quiet for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia, according to a defense official. At the time of the test, which came days after Russia claims to have used its own hypersonic missile during its invasion of Ukraine, President Biden was preparing for a visit to NATO allies in Europe. Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS, GLOBAL RESPONSE
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is set to visit Kyiv this week to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, her spokesperson Eric Mamer tweeted today. Rhoda Kwan reports for NBC News.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, in a phone call yesterday, with Bejing again calling for talks to end the conflict in Ukraine. The call, which Beijing said was made at Ukraine’s request, was the first reported high-level conversation between the countries since March 1, when Kuleba asked Beijing to use its ties with Moscow to stop Russia’s invasion. Reuters reports.
The Chinese Communist Party is pushing a campaign, aimed at students and officials, that paints Russia as a long-suffering victim rather than an aggressor, and defends China’s strong ties with Moscow amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The campaign includes a 101 minute documentary, shown to officials during organised sessions, that extols Russian President Vladimir Putin as a hero. Chris Buckley reports for the New York Times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree yesterday imposing visa restrictions on citizens from countries that were included in a list of nations deemed unfriendly to Russia last month. The list of unfriendly countries includes the U.S., Canada, E.U. member states, the U.K, Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland. Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.
France’s national counterterrorism prosecutor’s office has opened three investigations into war crimes committed against French citizens in the Ukrainian cities, of Chernihiv, Gostomel and Mariupol. The prosecutor’s office has not yet identified the alleged criminals or the victims and their numbers. Constant Meheut reports for the New York Times.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Turkey and the U.S. have announced the culmination of months of talks to set up a procedure for improving their strained ties, eyeing cooperation in the areas of economy and defence. Ministerial discussions will follow, the two sides said in a joint statement on Monday. Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Pakistan’s supreme court has delayed its verdict on whether Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, had violated the constitution by dissolving parliament rather than face a no-confidence vote. The delay leaves Pakistan without a government, and although the hearing will resume today, it remains unclear when there will be a ruling. Shah Meer Baloch and Hannah Ellis-Petersen report for the Guardian.
A major new report on climate change, released yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has warned that nations need to move away from fossil fuels much faster if the goal of limiting global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit is to remain in reach. According to the body of experts convened by the U.N., holding warming at this level would require nations to collectively reduce their planet-warming emissions by roughly 43 per cent by 2030 and to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere altogether by the early 2050s. UN News Centre reports.
At least 41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out of the ruling coalition today, leaving the government of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a minority in parliament as it struggles with the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. In another setback for the administration, Finance Minister Ali Sabry resigned a day after his appointment and ahead of crucial talks scheduled with the International Monetary Fund for a loan programme. Uditha Jayasinghe and Devjot Ghoshal report for Reuters.
French, U.S., and European officials have expressed concerns about allegations that hundreds of people were killed last week in Moura, a town in Mali, by Malian soldiers accompanied by Russian mercenaries on a campaign to fight insurgents. Although the accounts are still unclear, human rights organizations, security analysts and Malian civil society groups said that between 200 and 400 people had been killed in the town. Elian Peltier reports for the New York Times.
Somalia’s spy agency, The National Intelligence and Security Agency, has warned about an alleged plot by al-Qaeda-allied al-Shabab militants to attack the president and the prime minister. The warning comes amid a political crisis in the country due to the much delayed indirect elections. Al-Shabab has intensified attacks across Somalia in recent months. Abdi Dahir reports for BBC News.
Tunisian MPs face charges that may carry the death sentence for attending an online session of the suspended parliament last week, legal and political figures have said. During the session, they voted to nullify exceptional measures taken by Tunisian President Kais Saied last summer, which included the suspension of the parliament. Following the session, the president dissolved parliament and condemned the meeting as a “plot against the state’s internal and external security.” BBC News reports.
The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has said the country’s nuclear forces would “annihilate” the South Korean military if it launched a pre-emptive strike against the regime. Her comments come after South Korea’s defense minister, Suk Wook, publically discussed Seoul’s ability to “accurately and quickly hit any target in North Korea,” as tensions rise following North Korea’s recent resumption of long-range missile tests. Justin McCurry reports for the Guardian.
Australia has accelerated plans to buy long-range strike missiles years ahead of schedule, due to growing threats posed by Russia and China. The accelerated rearming of fighter jets and warships would cost 3.5 billion Australian dollars ($2.6 billion) and increase Australia’s deterrence to potential adversaries, Defense Minister Peter Dutton said. AP reports.
A section of Rwandan refugees living in Mozambique have begun their return home after nearly three decades since they escaped the 1994 genocide. “We chose to flee to Mozambique. But after some time, good information arrived indicating that there was peace in Rwanda, so we have decided to go home,” one refugee who planned to return to Rwanda said. Jose Tembe reports for BBC News.
JAN. 6, 2021 ATTACK and FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP
A judge has sentenced a man involved in the Jan 6. attack who said he was running for one of New Hampshire’s congressional House seats to 90 days in jail. Jason Riddle, a former navy veteran, who pleaded guilty to theft of government property and illegally protesting inside the Capitol, was also sentenced to three years probation and fined $750. Hannah Rabinowitz reports for CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The State Department launched its new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy on Monday in what it says is a modernization of the agency aimed at emerging technology issues in diplomacy. A statement issued by the department said the bureau will address “the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy.” Sarakshi Rai reports for The Hill.
Three Republican states sued the Biden administration yesterday over its plans to rescind Title 42, a Trump-era order that allows the U.S. to rapidly expel migrants who have crossed the border to seek asylum. The suit, filed by Missouri, Arizona and Louisianna, seeks to block the lifting of Title 42 by arguing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the order, violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to allow for a comment period on its revocation. Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has directed its lawyers to review cases and try to clear those considered low priority under the enforcement guidelines introduced last year. The effort could significantly reduce the current backlog of 1.7 deportation and asylum cases, as the administration anticipates a huge surge of migrants crossing the border. Eileen Sullivan reports for the New York Times.
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday in favor of the former navy veteran, Larry Thompson, who said he had been falsely accused by police officers of resisting arrest, saying he could sue for malicious prosecution under a federal civil rights law. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, writing for the majority, said it was enough that prosecutors had dropped the charges, rejecting the view that Thompson had to demonstrate that there had been some affirmative indication of his innocence. Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times.
Ketanji Brown Jackson is on a clear track to be confirmed later this week at the Supreme Court’s 116th justice – and its first black woman – after three Republicans joined Democrats to advance her nomination in yesterday’s Senate vote. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) became the second and third Republicans to announce support for Jackson, joining Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who publicly backed the judge last month.
Authorities have arrested a “related suspect” following Sunday’s shooting in Sacramento which killed 6 people. In a statement, Sacramento police said they had recovered more than 100 shell casings from the scene and arrested suspect Dandrae Martin. Police officials said Martin, 26, has been charged with assault and illegal possession of a firearm. Scott Wilson and Graham Womack report for the Washington Post.
Steven Zajonc, the man accused of attacking seven Asian women in New York earlier this year was indicted on hate crime charges yesterday by the state’s Supreme Court. Zajonc was indicted on six felony counts of assault as a hate crime and seven counts of aggravated harassment as a misdemeanour hate crime, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office. Monique Beals reports for The Hill.
COVID-19 has infected over 81.49 million people and has now killed over 997,129 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 493.92 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.17 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.