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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.
A man carrying a rifle and a handgun opened fire in a medical office building in Tulsa, Oklahoma, yesterday, killing four people and injuring several more. In an interview following the shooting, Capt. Richard Meulenberg of the Tulsa Police Department said the attack was not random.“This wasn’t an individual who just decided he wanted to go find a hospital full of random people,” he said. “He deliberately made a choice to come here and his actions were deliberate.” Captain Meulenberg declined to say any more about the gunman’s motive. Jesus Jiménez and Alex Traub report for the New York Times.
Payton Gendron, the man accused of carrying out the shooting in Buffalo which left 10 Black residents dead, has been indicted by a grand jury on 25 counts, including murder and domestic terrorism. The indictment’s first count — domestic terrorism motivated by hate — carries a penalty of life imprisonment without parole; it alleges that Gendron acted “because of the perceived race and/or color of such person or persons” injured and killed in the attack. Jesse McKinley reports for the New York Times.
The slavery reparations movement hit a watershed moment yesterday with the release of an exhaustive report detailing California’s role in perpetuating discrimination against African Americans. The 500-page document lays out the harm suffered by descendants of enslaved people even today, through discriminatory laws and actions in all facets of life, from housing and education to employment and the legal system. The African American reparations task force, which was responsible for the report, will release a comprehensive reparations plan next year. Janie Har reports for AP.
A federal judge said yesterday that John W. Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, would be unconditionally released on June 15. Judge Friedman said last year that Hinckley could be released from federal custody if he continued to comply with conditions of his release. He has been living in Virginia under court-appointed restrictions. Joseph De Avila reports for the Wall Street Journal.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Michael Luttig, a former federal judge and lawyer who advised former Vice President Mike Pence, is expected to testify in the Jan. 6 select committee’s public hearings this month. Luttig, who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, was a key behind-the-scenes figure in the lead up to Jan. 6, furnishing Pence with the legal argument the vice president used to publicly reject Trump’s order to overturn President Biden’s victory. The desire to showcase Luttig matches what sources have described as the committee’s strategy to reach as broad an audience as possible, including conservatives. Sophia Cai reports for Axios.
The committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has obtained a December 2020 proposal from a lawyer to Rudy Giuliani and others that sketched out an early, rough plan to prevent Biden from becoming president. The email, written by a New York lawyer named Kenneth Chesebro, detailed a plan to throw the certification of the election into the hands of the Senate pro tempore at the time, Chuck Grassley (R-IA). It is particularly significant as it’s the only document so far that the committee has obtained solely because of a judge’s finding that it could become evidence of a crime. Katelyn Polantz reports for CNN.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has extended the deadline for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to comply with its subpoena. In a letter informing Jordan of this, the panel laid out its fullest account of the information it would like to discuss with him. The letter outlines eight topics on inquiry, including previously unreported efforts by Jordan to reach then-Attorney General William Barr the day before the 2020 election was called and to speak with President Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows about “efforts to pressure Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe to audit his state’s election results.” Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Russia controls ‘most’ of the major eastern city of Severodonetsk, according to the U.K. ministry of defense. In its latest intelligence update , the ministry announced that while the main road into the city is likely to still be under Ukrainian control, “Russia continues to make steady local gains,” enabled by heavy artillery. Russia’s focus after capturing Severodonetsk and securing the Luhansk region would involve crossing the Siversky Donets River, where Ukraine maintains control, according to the update. Victoria Bisset reports for the Washington Post.
Official documents and military decrees reveal that hundreds of Russian troops defied orders in the invasion of Ukraine. The documents, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, show that troops escaped fighting in Ukraine or refused to take part in the war. After Russia’s army suffered severe losses early in its invasion of Ukraine, desertions and insubordination among soldiers, Interior Ministry troops and members of the National Guard has compounded the problem. Matthew Luxmoore reports for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
In a national referendum held yesterday, Denmark voted to join the E.U.’s defense framework – the Common Security and Defense Policy. Nearly 67% of voters chose to end a three-decade policy of opting out of the defense framework in a move that further signified the desire for stronger defense ties on the continent in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen welcomed the outcome, saying she was “very, very happy” with the decision. Amy Cheng reports for the Washington Post.
The U.K. ministry of defense announced today that it would send advanced medium-range missiles in conjunction with the new U.S. package. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says the U.K. will send an unspecified number of the sophisticated M270 launchers, which can send precision-guided rockets up to 50 miles. AP reports.
The U.K. approved yesterday a new gas field in the North Sea in order to shore up energy supply. The move comes as the supply of gas from Russia becomes increasingly unstable, with Gazprom cutting off both Denmark and the Netherlands in the last three days. “We’re turbocharging renewables and nuclear, but we are also realistic about our energy needs now,” British Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wrote on Twitter. AP reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. plans to sell advanced armed drones to Ukraine in the coming days. The Biden administration plans to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles for battlefield use against Russia. The deal is not complete and still can be rejected by Congress. So far, the Ukrainian military has been using other, Turkish-made drones but the American Gray Eagle would represent a significant technological leap for Ukraine. Mike Stone reports for Reuters.
Zelensky promised that the new U.S. missile system will not be used to strike Russian territory. In an interview that aired late Tuesday night, the Ukrainian president said that “We are not planning to attack Russia… We are not fighting on their territory. We have the war on our territory.” The U.S. had conditioned the recent provision of an advanced long-range weapons system on a promise from Kyiv that they would not be used to strike Russian territory. Ian Lovett, Evan Gershkovich and Daniel Michaels report for the Wall Street Journal.
Russia’s foreign minister today called the newest U.S. weapons package a direct provocation. Just two days after the Biden administration announced that it would be sending Ukraine its most advanced weapons system to date, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that the deal was a “direct provocation [by Ukraine], aimed at involving the West in military action.” His comments were echoed by his deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, who criticized the U.S. directly, saying that “We believe that the United States is purposefully and diligently adding fuel to the fire.” Martin Bellam reports for the Guardian.
NATO does not expect Russia will retaliate against the U.S. for its recent provision of advanced weapons systems, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday. “No, I don’t foresee that because what NATO allies and NATO is doing is to provide support to Ukraine to uphold the right for self-defense, and this is a right which is enshrined in the UN treaty,” Stoltenberg said. The new U.S. weapons system is the most advanced sent to Ukraine to date. Arnaud Siad reports for CNN
The U.S. has conducted offensive cyber operations in support of Ukraine, according to the Director of U.S. Cyber Command General Paul Nakasone. Nakasone told reporters that the U.S. cyber operations in Ukraine include offensive, defensive, and information operations. Nakasone also said the U.S. is conducting operations to dismantle Russian propaganda, particularly disinformation campaigns that may influence elections. Ines Kagubare reports for the Hill.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The U.S. announced yesterday a series of new initiatives to boost its trade relationship with Taiwan. The new pact, unveiled by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, is designed to promote bilateral trade in areas such as digital trade, clean energy and labor rights. Separately, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is launching a dialogue with Taiwan to address technology trade and investments, citing the importance of Taiwan as a leading supplier of advanced semiconductors. “Taiwan is an incredibly important partner to us, especially as it relates to semiconductors,” Raimondo told reporters. “We look forward to continuing to deepen our economic ties with Taiwan, and we are in active conversations with Taiwan.” By Yuka Hayashi reports for the Wall Street Journal.
China “firmly” opposes a new trade initiative between Taiwan and the United States, the Commerce Ministry said today. “The United States should prudently handle trade and economic ties with Taiwan to avoid sending a wrong message to Taiwan separatists,” said Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng. Reuters reports.
Foreign governments are increasingly targeting dissidents on U.S. soil, a new report by the pro-democracy think tank Freedom House has found. Iran, China, Egypt, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and others have targeted dissidents in the United States, Freedom House found, and were “increasingly and more aggressively disregarding US laws to threaten, harass, surveil, stalk, and even plot to physically harm people across the country.” Adam Taylor provides analysis for the Washington Post.
Iranian government-backed hackers were behind an attempted hack of the Boston Children’s Hospital computer network last year, FBI Director Christopher Wray alleged yesterday. In a speech delivered at Boston College, Wray called the attack “one of the most despicable cyberattacks I’ve ever seen,” warning that “we cannot let up on China or Iran or criminal syndicates while we’re focused on Russia.” Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN.
The U.S. is still confirming a final list ahead of next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, senior U.S. officials said yesterday. Preparations for the summit have been clouded by tensions around the possible exclusion of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. U.S. officials are reportedly considering inviting a lower-ranking Cuban representative, in order to mollify regional leaders who have threatened to boycott the summit. Daina Beth Solomon and Matt Spetalnick report for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Tens of thousands have been displaced in the Congo after a resurgence of fighting in the country’s east. Tensions erupted last week after members of the M23 rebel group attacked Congolese forces near Goma, the largest city in Congo’s mineral-rich east. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said that more than 72,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in North Kivu province. This comes as tensions continue to mount with neighboring Rwanda, with Congo’s president, Félix Tshisekedi, accusing Kigali of backing M23. Lesley Wroughton reports for the Washington Post.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s conservative governing party secured a major win in yesterday’s mayoral elections. People Power Party, won 12 of the 17 races for big-city mayors and provincial governors in local elections held in South Korea on Wednesday, further expanding Yoon’s conservative influence less than three months after he won the presidential election. Choe Sang-Hun reports for the New York Times.
Crude oil prices fell today ahead of the OPEC+ meeting at which the countries are expected to agree to boost production. Today’s meeting brings together the 13 members of OPEC and 10 non-OPEC producers. The U.S. and Europe have pressed the group, dubbed OPEC+, to pump more crude, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent oil prices soaring above $100 a barrel. Caitlin Ostroff reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Chinese air force harassed Canadian patrol planes monitoring North Korea, according to the Canadian military. While monitoring North Korean sanctions evasions, the Canadian patrol plane was forced to divert from its flight path by Chinese warplanes. Such interactions are of concern and of increasing frequency, the Canadian military said, noting that the missions occur during U.N.-approved operations to implement sanctions on North Korea. Josh Smith reports for Reuters.
U.S.-backed Syrian forces have warned today of the dangers of a potential new offensive from Turkey. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that if Turkey launches a new attack in Northern Syria it would create a humanitarian crisis and undermine its campaign against the Islamic State group. Turkey has pledged to launch a new military incursion against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, the spearhead of the SDF, which controls swathes of the north at the Turkish border. Reuters reports.
The U.N. received “preliminary, positive, indications” yesterday that a two-month truce between Yemen’s Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition will get a further extension. The extension, which local reports suggest has been tentatively agreed, follows weeks of negotiations. Oxfam’s Yemen director hopes that it wil “avert the risk of millions of Yemenis being forced into acute hunger.” Colm Quinn reports for Foreign Policy.
Dutch intelligence service AIVD uses controversial Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO Group, according to four sources. The AIVD used the software to break into the phone of Ridouan Taghi, the main suspect in the massive assassinations trial Marengo. However, it is thought that the software is also being used for other things. Pegasus is controversial as research by Canada’s CitizenLab and Amnesty International has showed that government also use Pegasus to keep an eye on opposition members, activists, and journalists. NL Times reports.
COVID-19 has infected over 84.44 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 530.742 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.