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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
Russia has taken near-total control of the major eastern city of Severodonetsk according to Luhansk’s regional governor, Serhiy Haidai. In a tweet released yesterday, Haidai wrote that perhaps as much as 70% of the city had fallen under Russian control. According to the governor, the fighting in the city had destroyed all of its critical infrastructure and 60% of its housing capacity. The complete capture of the city would represent a much needed symbolic and territorial victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reis Thebault and Bryan Pietsch report for the Washington Post.
Russia’s nuclear forces are conducting maneuvering exercises according to a new report from the independent Russian news agency, Interfax. The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly told Interfax that 1,000 servicemen are exercising in intense maneuvers using over 100 vehicles including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers. Olzhas Auyezov reports for Reuters
Russia announced today that it has successfully completed the testing of its hypersonic cruise missile system. The new missiles, which can travel at nine times the speed of sound, will be deployed to the Northern Fleet of the Russian navy, according to its admiral Alexander Moiseyev. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Danish energy company, Orsted, announced today that Russian gas producer Gazprom was cutting off its gas supply after it refused to settle its contracts in rubles. This announcement comes just one day after Gazprom cut off the supply of gas to a Dutch energy company for the same reason. According to the CEO of Orsted, Mads Nipper, “The situation underpins the need of the EU becoming independent of Russian gas by accelerating the build-out of renewable energy.” AP reports.
Germany will supply Ukraine with its most advanced air defense system, the IRIS-T, according to the German Chancellor Olaf Schulz. This comes following months of pleas from Kyiv to supply the Ukrainian military with more advanced weapons systems and despite warnings from the Kremlin that countries that do so will face harsh repercussions. Reuters reports.
The E.U. announced yesterday that it will send nearly $10 billion in financial aid to Ukraine. Concluding a two-day summit at which E.U. nations also agreed to a blockade of 90% of all Russian oil, European leaders announced that they would provide $9.7 billion in “immediate liquidity” to Ukraine, though it will be conditioned on reducing corruption in Kyiv. Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Richard Pérez-Peña report for the New York Times.
Switzerland vetoed Denmark’s request to send armored vehicles to Ukraine yesterday. Despite having parted with its long history of neutrality in adopting E.U. sanctions, the Swiss government vetoed this measure citing its neutrality policy of not supplying arms to conflict zones. Denmark had proposed providing around 20 Piranha III infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Michael Shields reports for Reuters.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. will send Ukraine advanced weapons and munitions as part of a new $700 million military aid package, Biden announced yesterday. The new weapons system, American High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, is capable of striking targets fifty miles away and will be the most advanced weapons system in Ukrainian hands to date. This provision is conditioned on a pledge from Kyiv that the weapons will not be used on targets in Russian territory. In a New York Times Op-Ed announcing the package, President Biden said that the new systems would enable Ukraine to “fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.” Michael Shear reports for the New York Times.
More than 23,000 Ukrainian refugees have been authorized to come to the U.S., according to the Department of Homeland Security. The new authorization comes as part of the Biden administration’s more streamlined process for welcoming refugees from the war in Ukraine, which requires that they be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or non-profit group. As of yesterday, the U.S. had received 42,000 requests and granted more than half of them. Priscilla Alvarez reports for CNN.
President Biden assured the global community yesterday that the U.S. is not seeking to depose Vladimir Putin. In the same New York Times Op-Ed in which he announced the provision of the new weapon system to Ukraine, Biden said that the U.S. is not seeking an armed confrontation between NATO and Russia and that removing Putin from office is not one of his administration’s goals. Morgan Chalfant reports for the Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS
Three Eastern European nations announced yesterday that they were joining an international investigation team probing war crimes in Ukraine. Leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia announced that they would join Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in the Joint Investigation Team that will help coordinate the sharing of evidence of atrocities through E.U. judicial cooperation agency Eurojust. Mike Corder reports for AP.
Around 15,000 potential war crimes have been reported in Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s chief prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova. She told the Hague yesterday that her office has identified some 600 suspects and have begun 80 separate prosecutions. Their list of suspects includes “top military, politicians and propaganda agents of Russia”, she added. Of the 15,000 alleged war crimes, Veneditkova said several thousand had been identified in the eastern Donbas region. The allegations include the forcible transfer of people to different parts of Russia, as well as torture and the killing of civilians. BBC reports.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
China has conducted a combat “readiness patrol” in the seas and airspace around Taiwan in recent days, according to the Chinese military. The patrol was necessary to respond to “collusion” between Washington and Taipei, the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement. “Recently, the United States has frequently made moves on the Taiwan issue, saying one thing and doing another, instigating support for Taiwan independence forces, which will push Taiwan into a dangerous situation,” the command added. Reuters reports.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is set to meet with a series of top U.S. officials over the coming days, according to a press release from NATO. Stoltenberg will meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday and Defense Secretary Llyod Austin on Thursday. The NATO secretary-general is also expected to meet with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Caroline Vakil reports for The Hill.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has accused Iran of using documents stolen from the U.N.’s atomic watchdog to hide that it was carrying out banned nuclear activity. In a video, Bennett said Iran “lied to the world and Iran is lying to the world again right now.” He showed what he said were copies of Iran’s “deception plan”, including handwritten notes in Persian which said Iran needed to prepare a “cover story”. The prime minister’s declaration comes ahead of a meeting next week where the U.N. atomic energy agency chief Rafael Grossi is due to present a report on its probe into unexplained nuclear material found at three undeclared sites in Iran. Raffi Berg reports for BBC News.
Israeli troops have shot and killed a knife-wielding Palestinian woman in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry has reported. The Israeli military said that an assailant armed with a knife approached a soldier “conducting routine security activity” north of the West Bank city of Hebron and that soldiers opened fire. It said that no soldiers were hurt in the incident. AP reports.
Mali has denied allegations of gross human rights abuses by its army, put forward in a U.N. report released last week. In a detailed memo issued yesterday Mali’s foreign affairs ministry offered a detailed rebuttal to the report by the country’s U.N. mission, Minusuma. “These allegations are very often tedious, uncross-referenced, reported in non-contradictory ways, and not supported by any tangible evidence,’ it said. BBC News reports.
A senior U.N. official yesterday urged the Security Council to support efforts to curb violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo following the resurgence of the M23 armed group in the region. The group constitutes a serious threat to peace, security and stability in the region Martha Pobee, an Assistant Secretary-General for the U.N.’s political affairs and peace operations, told the Council. “It is imperative that this Council lend its full weight to ongoing regional efforts to defuse the situation and bring an end to the M23 insurgency, once and for all,” she said, adding that civilians were paying a heavy price for the violence. UN News Centre reports.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The subpoena of former Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro, gives a first indication that the department is acting on the criminal referral from the House of Representatives to hold him in contempt of Congress. In April, the House voted to recommend Navarro be referred to the Justice Department on criminal contempt of Congress charges for refusing to comply with the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack’s February subpoena. In response to the subpoena, Navarro has said on Monday that he intends to file against the House select committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the US attorney for the District of Columbia. Paula Reid reports for CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Supreme Court yesterday blocked a Texas law that would ban large social media companies from removing posts based on the views they express. The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s three most conservative members – Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch – and liberal Justice Elena Kagan in dissent. The court’s order is not the last word on the case, which is pending before a federal appeals court and may return to the Supreme Court. Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times.
Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the 2016 Clinton campaign, was acquitted yesterday on a charge of lying to the FBI about his motives for bringing the bureau research allegedly linking former President Trump to Russia. The verdict marks a blow for special counsel John Durham’s three-year examination of how the U.S. government handled allegations of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Aruna Viswanatha reports for the Wall Street Journal.
New York lawmakers have announced a package of legislation to tighten gun lawings, including provisions to increase the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic rifle to 21. Under the package of legislation, the state also will ban the purchase of bullet-resistant vests by civilians and require that pistols be enabled with microstamping technology, which places a forensic mark on any shell casing fired by a particular gun. The bills were completed over the weekend and are expected to be approved this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul and fellow Democrats who control the state Assembly and Senate said in a statement. Jimmy Vielkind reports for the New York Times.
The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote this week on wide-ranging gun control legislation, following a spate of recent mass shootings . The bill would raise the lawful age to purchase a semiautomatic centerfire rifle from 18 to 21 years old, establish new federal offenses for gun trafficking and for selling large-capacity magazines, and allow local governments to compensate individuals who surrender such magazines through a buyback program, according to a person involved in the matter. The package, known as the “Protecting our Kids Act” would likely pass the Democratic-controlled House but wouldn’t overcome a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate. Alex Rogers, Manu Raju and Lauren Fox report for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 84.21 million people and has now killed over 1.01 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 530.094 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.29 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of the vaccine rollout 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.