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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 – WAR CRIMES ALLEGATIONS
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the U.N Security Council yesterday that Russia should be removed from the council or it should otherwise be dissolved. During his virtual appearance at the council’s chamber, Zelenskyy warned that the newly uncovered atrocities following the withdrawal of Russian forces near Kyiv could be worse than those in Bucha. William Mauldin and Yuliya Chernova report for the Wall Street Journal.
Zelenskyy also told the U.N. Security Council that Russian tanks had crushed civilians “for pleasure”, calling for those responsible to be tried as Nazis were at Nuremberg. A video of Zelenskyys comments is provided by BBC News.
A video has emerged of Russian soldiers opening fire on a cyclist in Bucha, adding to the mounting evidence of atrocities carried out by Russian forces during its occupation of the suburban town. Malachy Browne and Dmitriy Khavin report for the New York Times.
More than 400 people are missing from the Ukrainian town of Hostomel’, according to local officials. Most of the bodies of Hostomel’s residents were found in neighbouring villages and the town of Bucha, official Taras Dumenko said. Russians must have abducted people and taken them away, many of them to be shot, he added. BBC News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – WAR CRIMES ALLEGATIONS, U.S. RESPONSE
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Brussels to oversee the U.S. investigation of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine. While in Europe, he will also meet with G-7 members and NATO foreign ministers to discuss potential additional punitive actions against Russia. Dustin Jones reports for NPR.
Blinken said yesterday that the killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha formed part of a deliberate Russian campaign “to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities. The reports are more than credible, the evidence is there for the world to see.” Reuters reports.
The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Durbin, yesterday introduced the War Crime Accountability Act, which “will strengthen U.S. laws to ensure war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity – like Russian forces in Ukraine – cannot find safe haven in the U.S.,” the Senate Judiciary Committee Twitter account reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – WAR CRIMES ALLEGATIONS, GLOBAL RESPONSE
The European Commission is proposing a ban on Russian coal — but not oil or gas — as part of a new package of sanctions in response to possible war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine. This is the first E.U. move to block Russian energy imports since the invasion. However, as the package does not meet demands for an embargo on Russian oil or natural gas it is unlikely to quiet calls for the E.U. to do more. The proposal will be debated by E.U. ambassadors today. Emily Rauhala and Quentin Aries report for the Washington Post.
In the country’s strongest denunciation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid yesterday described the killings in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, as “war crimes.” Lapid’s comments were in marked contrast to those of Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennet. While Bennett also condemned the killings in Bucha, he did not blame Russia. Eliiot Gotkine reports for CNN.
India’s permanent representative to the U.N. yesterday told a meeting of the Security Council that India unequivocally condemns the killing of civilians in Ukraine and supports the call for an independent investigation. However, whilst this may appear to represent a hardened stance, analysts say the strong statement from India — a longtime and important ally of Russia’s — is in line with the middle path it has defined for itself, rather than signalling any shift from its policy. Karan Deep Singh reports for the New York Times.
Pope Francis has condemned the killing of civilians in Ukraine, particularly in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. “Evermore horrendous cruelties, even against civilians, women, and helpless children. They are victims whose innocent blood cries out to heaven and implores,” the pope said in his weekly public audience at the Vatican today. The pope then held out a Ukrainian flag that he had received the day before from Bucha, saying that the flag “came from war, from that martyred city of Bucha.” Francis X. Rocca reports for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that its air-based and land-based missiles had destroyed five Ukrainian fuel depots, including in Mykolaiv and in Novomoskovsk, near Dnipro. The facilities were used to resupply Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and the Donbas areas, the ministry said. Ivan Nechepurenko reports for the New York Times.
Explosions were reported late Tuesday in the Radekhiv area of the Lviv region in western Ukraine, according to Maksym Kozytskyi, head of the regional military administration. A fire followed the explosion and was immediately extinguished by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, Kozytskyi said. Air Command West of the Ukrainian Air Force also issued a statement saying two Russian cruise missiles were downed last night in the Lviv region. Yulia Kesaieva reports for CNN.
The eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk could become the “next pivotal battle” of Russia’s offensive, according to a report issued Monday by the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank tracking the conflict. Alex Stambaugh reports for CNN.
Russian regional officials said today that frontier guards in the Kursk region of Russia bordering Ukraine had come under fire, while schools in nearby Belgorod were evacuated after a bomb threat. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not yet have details of the incidents in the two Russian regions, but described the reports as “serious”. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
More than 60 Republicans have voted against a resolution expressing support for NATO and calling on President Joe Biden to strengthen the organization’s commitment to defending democracy. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) was backed by a majority of the GOP caucus and every Democrat who voted. Republicans who voted against the resolution included most of Trump’s most loyal defenders in Congress. Charlies R. Davis reports for Business Insider.
President Biden’s administration has authorized the immediate drawdown of up to $100 million in additional security assistance to meet Ukraine’s need for more anti-armor systems. The money, which will be the sixth drawdown from the Department inventories for Ukraine since August 2021, will go towards Javelin antitank weapons, the Pentagon has said. Vivian Salama reports for the Wall Street Journal.
President Biden’s administration is preparing to impose a second round of sanctions on Russia this week, including on two of its biggest banks and on two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials have said. The sanctions, which could be announced today, are expected to be imposed on Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and Alfa-Bank, one of Russia’s top private lenders. Vivian Salama reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Treasury Department yesterday sanctioned Russia’s largest and “most prominent” darknet market, Hydra Market, in a coordinated resolution intended to disrupt malicious cybercrime services, the selling of drugs and other illegal activities. The coordinated resolution in the U.S. follows a decision made by German authorities to shut down Hydra’s servers in Germany and seize $25 million worth of bitcoin. Ines Kagubare reports for The Hill.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the “greatest threat to the peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world in my 42 years of service in uniform,” in testimony before Congress yesterday. Milley touted the presence of U.S. forces in Europe as a strong deterrent to aggression by Russia and floated the idea of rotating troops through bases in Poland, Romania and the Baltic states to create the effect of permanently stationing there. Bryan Pietsch reports for the Washington Post.
Cyber executives testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee yesterday warned against the government taking an oversize role in defending the private sector against threats coming from Russia. Amit Yoran, chairman and CEO of cybersecurity firm Tenable, said the federal government should be less of a regulator and more of a partner for critical infrastructure as public and private entities respond to warnings of Russian cyberattacks amid its war on Ukraine. Ines Kagubare reports for The Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Whilst Ukraine’s Western allies have vowed to respect Kyiv’s decision regarding any settlement to end the war with Russia, larger issues of global security mean that there are limits to how many compromises NATO members will support to win peace. Some NATO allies are especially cautious about ceding Ukrainian territory to Russia and giving Russian President Vladimir Putin any semblance of victory, according to alliance policymakers and analysts. Michael Birnbaum and Missy Ryan report for the Washington Post.
The Czech Republic has been sending old Soviet-designed tanks into Ukraine, providing badly needed heavy weapons to outgunned Ukrainian troops that are battling a much better-equipped Russian invasion force. The efforts mark the first time a foreign country has provided tanks to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began. Both the Czech Republic and neighboring Slovakia, which shares a border with Ukraine, are also considering opening their military industrial installations to repair and refit damaged Ukrainian military equipment. Drew Hinshaw and Yaroslav Trofimov report for the Wall Street Journal.
Speaking to the Irish Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon in its attempt to win territory. He said Russian forces had blocked all of Ukraine’s seaports and ships with food for export, and that Russian missiles were “destroying things that are sustaining livelihoods.” BBC News reports.
The E.U. has spent €35bn on Russian fuel since the start of the war, compared to an outlay of just €1bn to Ukraine in arms and weapons, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said. BBC News reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – REFUGEES AND HUMANITARIAN CORRIDORS
The humanitarian situation for civilians stranded in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is worsening, the British Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update. As many as 160,000 people are stuck in the city without electricity, food, water, medicine or heat, the update says. Bryan Pietsch reports for the Washington Post.
Eleven humanitarian corridors, agreed on by Russia and Ukraine, will operate today, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a daily update on Telegram — up from the seven in operation yesterday. Adela Suliman and Amar Nadhir report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
In response to censorship by Moscow and provocative posts about the war in Ukraine, Twitter detailed new policies yesterday, saying that it would reduce amplification of Russian government accounts and ban some tweets containing images of prisoners of war. Erin Woo reports for the New York Times.
A man has died after crashing a vehicle into the gate of Russia’s Embassy in Bucharest, according to police in the Romanian capital. The Russian Embassy in Romania confirmed the incident, saying it had unfolded “under the influence of an explosion of anti-Russian hysteria” in connection with what it called a “staged provocation in Bucha.” It is unclear whether the crash was accidental or deliberate. Chantal Da Silva reports for NBC News.
A quarter of Africa’s population is facing a food-security crisis driven by severe drought, raging wars and a rise in world food prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Dominik Stillhart, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s global operations director, warned yesterday. Michael M. Phillips reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
A military partnership between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia will be expanded to focus on developing hypersonic missiles, amid concerns that the U.S. and its allies are falling behind potential rivals in testing such weapons. Officials from the U.S., U.K. and Australia said yesterday that they would focus on both hypersonic missiles and counter-hypersonic capabilities after meeting to discuss progress in implementing their new three-way alliance, AUKUS. Mike Cherney reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale to Taiwan of equipment, training and other services worth $95m to support the island’s defence, in what would be the third arms package since President Biden took office. Al Jazeera reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
E.U. officials yesterday moved to hold Hungary accountable for what the bloc’s leaders say are violations of the rule of law, initiating for the first time a procedure that would withhold billions of euros in subsidies. The European Commission President Ursula von de Leyen has said that a formal letter is on its way to Budapest outlining the intentions of the E.U.’s executive arm to trigger what is known as the “conditionality mechanism.” The move comes days after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban won his fourth consecutive term, with Von der Leyen citing corruption as an immediate concern. Isaac Stanley-Becker reports for the Washington Post.
El Salvador’s Congress passed a measure yesterday to punish anyone who shares information about gangs with up to 15 years in prison. Whilst the measure appears intended to criminalize the relaying of gang messages, critics say that it could lead to the censorship of journalists and more mass detentions. Maria Abi-Habib and Bryan Avelar report for the New York Times.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has again delayed its ruling on the legality of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s move to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections, following a no-confidence vote against him. The hearings will recommence tomorrow. Al Jazeera reports.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett lost his slim parliamentary majority today, after a lawmaker from his nationalist party quit. The walkout by Idit Silman, a step she said she took on ideological grounds, left Bennett in control of 60 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. Dan Williams reports for Reuters.
Ethiopian paramilitaries have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes using threats, killings and sexual violence, according to a joint report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Kaamil Ahmed reports for the Guardian.
A U.N. peacekeeper from Nepal was killed yesterday in an attack by suspected militia members in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Congolese authorities to investigate the incident and “swiftly bring those responsible to justice.” The Security Council also delivered rapid condemnation of the attack, expressing their deepest condolences to the family of the victim and to Nepal, as well as to the U.N.. UN News Centre reports.
Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not resign, a minister said today, despite protests against his handling of the country’s worst economic crisis in decades and the resignation of dozens of lawmakers. Devjyot Ghoshal and Uditha Jayasinghe report for Reuters.
JAN. 6, 2021 ATTACK and FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP
The committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has obtained a cache of emails that right-wing lawyer John Eastman had sought to keep secret. The emails – exchanged between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7 2021 – were released to the committee after Judge David Carter ruled that Eastman had not made a sufficient claim to attorney-client privilege. One email, a draft memo for Rudy Giuliani, recommended that then-Vice President Mike Pence reject some states’ electors during the Jan. 6 congressional meeting. The other emails include extensive discussions among Eastman and others about using court cases as a political argument to block Congress from certifying the vote. Katelyn Palantz and Paul LeBlanc report for CNN.
Ivanka Trump, former President Trump’s eldest daughter and then senior adviser, testified before the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for around eight hours yesterday. Ms. Trump did not seek to invoke any privilege – such as executive privilege or the Fifth Amendment, as other witnesses have done – and broadly answered the panel’s questions, according to those familiar with the interview. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
The second jury trial stemming from the Jan. 6 attack began yesterday, with former Virginia police officer Thomas Roberts arguing that he never clashed with law enforcement at the Capitol, and instead went into the building to retrieve a friend. Roberts faces five felony charges and one misdemeanour, including attempting to obstruct Congress from certifying the presidential election, interfering with police during a civil disorder and obstruction of justice. Josh Gerstein reports for POLITICO.
A Virginia state court has disbarred Jonathon Moseley, an attorney who has represented a slew of high-profile Jan. 6 defendants, including a member of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy. A summary posted on the Virginia State Bar website yesterday said the court found that he violated “professional rules that govern safekeeping property; meritorious claims and contentions; candor toward the tribunal; fairness to opposing party and counsel; unauthorized practice of law, multijurisdictional practice of law; bar admission and disciplinary matters … and misconduct.” Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
President Biden is expected to announce a new nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as early as this month. Deliberations are ongoing but Steve Dettelbach, a former federal attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, is seriously being considered by the White House for the post. Laura Barrón-López and Christopher Cadelago report for POLITICO.
Senate Republicans are pushing to include in a bipartisan deal on Covid-19 aid an amendment to reinstate Title 42, a Trump-era pandemic border policy that the Biden administration plans to lift in March. Vulnerable Democrats, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), also appear supportive of the amendment, saying that the administration doesn’t have a detailed plan in place to deal with the expected increase in migrants to the southern border once the Title 42 is lifted. Tarini Parti and Eliza Collins report for the Wall Street Journal.
Matt Mowers, a former Trump administration official now running for Congress in New Hampshire, voted twice during the 2016 primary election season, potentially violating federal voting law. Mowers cast an absentee ballot in New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential primary, voting records show. Four months later, Mowers cast another ballot in New Jersey’s Republican presidential primary, using his parent’s address to re-register in his home state, according to documents obtains through a public records request. Brian Slodysko and Holly Ramer report for AP.
President Biden on Tuesday nominated Adm. Linda Fagan to be the head of the Coast Guard. If accepted she will be the first woman to lead a military branch. Lexi Lonas reports for The Hill.
COVID-19 has infected over 80.20 million people and has now killed over 982,576 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 493.776 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.16 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.