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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.
NATO leaders yesterday outlined a new vision naming Moscow as the military alliance’s primary adversary, and declaring China to be a strategic challenge. “The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests,” NATO leaders said in a new mission statement issued during their summit in Madrid. This signals a fundamental shift for the alliance, which had previously come to view a post-Soviet Russia as a potential ally, and did not focus on China at all. Steven Erlanger and Michael D. Shear report for the New York Times.
NATO member countries agreed yesterday to create a new program to quickly respond to cyberattacks. The “virtual rapid response cyber capability” comes after months of Russian cyberattacks in Ukraine as part of the war and amid concerns that Moscow may target the United States and other NATO countries in retaliation for assistance to Ukraine. According to a fact sheet put out by the White House, the U.S. will offer “robust national capabilities” to support this program. In its new mission statement, NATO also reaffirmed a 2021 commitment that a cyberattack could (but would not automatically) trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which would make it an attack against the alliance as a whole. Maggie Miller reports for POLITICO.
Vladimir Putin has issued fresh warnings that Russia would respond in kind if NATO set up military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden. Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying he could not rule out that tensions would emerge in Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm over their joining NATO. Andrew Roth reports for the Guardian.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The United States yesterday signaled a new willingness to sell upgraded F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. The move to satisfy this longstanding request comes a day after Turkey dropped its opposition to efforts by Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance. However, senior American officials have denied that President Biden bargained with Turkey in exchange for its support for expanding NATO. Michael D. Shear and Steven Erlanger report for the New York Times.
President Biden met yesterday with the heads of Japan and South Korea, pledging deeper cooperation to counter North Korea’s weapons provocations. The meeting, on the sidelines of the NATO summit, was the first such gathering between the three countries’ leaders in nearly five years. “Our trilateral cooperation, in my view, is essential to achieving our shared objective, including a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Biden said. Timothy W. Martin and Alastair Gale report for the Wall Street Journal.
A new round of indirect nuclear talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal ended yesterday without any progress, a senior U.S. official has said. “The Iranians have not demonstrated any sense of urgency, raised old issues that have been settled for months, and even raised new issues that are unrelated to the 2015 nuclear agreement. A deal has been available for some time,” the senior U.S. official said. “If there is a side that needs to take a decision, it’s them — and it’s been them for months,” the official added. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
Just Security has published a piece by Brianna Rosen on the action the Biden Administration must take in order to walk Iran back from the nuclear brink.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
The Russian military has announced that its forces are withdrawing from Snake Island in the Black Sea. “On June 30, as a gesture of goodwill, the Russian Armed Forces completed their assigned tasks on Snake Island and withdrew the garrison stationed there,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. Kyiv will likely dispute Russian reasons for withdrawal as the Ukrainian military has recently been on a renewed mission to retake the island and launched a series of attacks against Russian forces, claiming “a significant victory.” Mary Ilyushina reports for the Washington Post.
Ukrainian officials have announced the largest prisoner exchange since Russia’s invasion, saying 144 soldiers were being returned to Ukraine. Denis Pushilin, the head of Russian proxy forces in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, said that the same number of Russian and pro-Russian forces were returned in the deal. Michael Schwirtz, Marc Santora and Ivan Nechepurenko report for the New York Times.
The U.N. has documented at least 3,924 civilian deaths during Russia’s war with Ukraine as of May 15. The numbers, released in a report yesterday, include only those deaths and injuries independently verified by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Deaths and injuries after May 15 have yet to be documented. Maham Javaid reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – WAR CRIMES ALLEGATIONS
Russia’s deadly attack on Mariupol’s Drama Theatre, where hundreds of civilians were sheltering, was “a clear war crime,” an Amnesty International investigation has found. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces “likely deliberately” targeted the venue on March 16, the human rights organization said, despite clear signs that the building was being used as a haven for civilians. Jennifer Hassan reports for the Washington Post.
The bombing of the mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, “should be investigated as a potential war crime,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. In a report published today, Yulia Gorbunova, a senior Ukraine researcher at HRW added that “if the Russian authorities don’t, the International Criminal Court and other investigative bodies should.” Gorbunova added “the civilians of Kremenchuk who suffered such an intense loss from Jun. 27 strike, deserve justice. There needs to be a thorough investigation, and those responsible should be held to account.” Ingrid Formanek and Seb Shukla report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The Treasury Department yesterday announced the delivery of $1.3 billion in economic aid to Ukraine. The transferred funds — the first of $7.5 billion in economic aid approved by Congress last month — come amid new estimates that Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure have suffered extensive damage from the war. Jeff Stein reports for the Washington Post.
It will take “years” for the Russian military to recover from the damage it has sustained in carrying out its war in Ukraine, according to the director for national intelligence Avril Haines. “Their ground forces have now been degraded so much that we expect it will take years for them to recover in many ways,” she told a conference in Washington, DC yesterday. That could push Russia to become more reliant on “asymmetric tools” such as cyberattacks, efforts to try to control energy, or even nuclear weapons in order to project “power and influence,” she said. Katie Bo Lillis reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE- OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ordered Russia to ensure that the death penalty is not carried out against two captured Britons. The ECtHR said it had issued an order for interim measures, telling Russia it “should ensure that the death penalty imposed on the applicants was not carried out; ensure appropriate conditions of their detention; and provide them with any necessary medical assistance and medication.” Reuters reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accepted an invitation to attend this year’s Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Zelenskyy made the announcement during a joint appearance with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who travelled to Kyiv yesterday. Zelenskyy thanked Widodo for the personal invitation, but added that his attendance depends on “the composition of participants.” Russian President Vladimir Putin is also set to take part in the meeting of the world’s major economies in November. Amy Cheng reports for the Washington Post.
A deal to end Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian seaports and grain exports remains distant, Kyiv’s top negotiator has said. Turkey and the U.N. are trying to broker an end to Russia’s naval blockade in the Black Sea, which has crippled Ukrainian commodity exports and triggered fears of global food shortages. However, Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s deputy minister for the economy and lead trade negotiator, has said Russia’s efforts to conquer the country’s south were preventing a deal and rumours of a breakthrough were “more optimistic than reality.” Derek Brower and Roman Olearchyk report for the Financial Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has arrived in Hong Kong for his first trip outside the mainland since early 2020. The two-day visit is aimed at reinforcing his authority over the city, following his sweeping crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in 2019. The closely choreographed visit, with few publicly announced details and a high level of security, suggests that Xi’s public interactions will be limited and protesters will be kept away. The New York Times reports.
Israeli lawmakers voted today to dissolve parliament, setting the stage for the country’s fifth general election in less than four years. The vote also marks the end of the first Israeli coalition government to include an independent Arab party. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, a centrist, is expected to become the country’s caretaker prime minister under a coalition agreement. He will remain so until a new government is formed after voters go to the polls on Nov. 1. Dov Lieber reports for the Wall Street Journal.
New Zealand has designated two U.S. far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Base, as terrorist organizations. The designation comes as the country grapples with the spread of right-wing extremism within its border and makes it illegal for New Zealand residents to fund or support either group. According to law enforcement officials, the Proud Boys’ participation in the Jan. attack was a key reason for their designation. Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Emmanuel Marcos, was sworn in to office today. Marcos Jr., 64, won a landslide victory during the May elections. More than 30 million votes were cast for him, making Marcos the first presidential candidate to obtain a majority since the revolution that ousted his father 36 years ago. His election suggests a continued preference for populist leaders among Filipinos — who were governed for the past six years by the tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte, best known internationally for a war on drugs that has left thousands dead. Regine Cabato reports for the Washington Post.
The U.K. plans to send military specialists to Bosnia and Herzegovina to counter Russian influence and “reinforce the NATO Mission and promote stability and security” in the country.” We cannot allow the Western Balkans to become another playground for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s pernicious pursuits. By fanning the flames of secessionism and sectarianism Russia seeks to reverse the gains of the last three decades in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. Reuters reports.
The only surviving attacker from the group that carried out the November 2015 Paris attacks has been found guilty of terrorism and murder charges. Salah Abdeslam received a rare full-life sentence for his role in the gun and bomb attacks that killed 130 people. The court also convicted 19 other men involved, six of whom are believed to be dead. George Bowden and Leo Sands report for BBC News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – JAN. 6 ATTACK
The committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack issued a subpoena yesterday for the testimony of Pat A. Cipollone, White House counsel to former-President Trump. Cipollone participated in key conversations on Jan. 6 and throughout Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and is known to have doubted the legality of Trump’s plans. The subpoena sent a clear signal of the aggressive tactics the panel is willing to use to try to force cooperation of the White House’s former top lawyer, who most likely could invoke attorney-client privilege in response to many questions. Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman report for the New York Times.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the vice-chairperson of the Jan.6 committee, yesterday described Trump as a threat to the republic who has “gone to war with the rule of law.” “At this moment, we are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before — and that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic,” Cheney said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. “He is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man,” she said, continuing, “Even after all we’ve seen, they’re enabling his lies.” Maggie Haberman reports for the New York Times.
Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon has requested that his trial for contempt of Congress be delayed, arguing that the Jan. 6 committee’s hearings have generated too much publicity. “Select Committee members have made inflammatory remarks about the culpability of President Trump and his closest advisers, including Mr. Bannon, and have broadcast to millions of people their purported ‘findings’ on issues that may prejudice the minds of jurors in this case,” Bannon’s attorneys Evan Corcoran, David Schoen and Robert Costello wrote in a court filing yesterday. They asked that the trial, which was set to open Jul. 18, be put off until at least October. Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO.
Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the Jan. 6 committee has increased Trump’s criminal exposure, according to a number of experienced prosecutors-turned-defense attorneys. Ty Cobb, who represented Trump in the White House during Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, told CNN that in relation to Jan. 6 “there are many damning facts.” He pointed in particular to Hutchinson’s testimony that Trump knew his supporters were armed on Jan. 6, riled them up, then appeared to concur with them chanting to hang the vice president as worthy of prosecutors’ attention. If that “isn’t insurrection, I don’t know what is,” he said. Ty Cobb left the administration in May 2018. Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen report for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 87.22 million people and has now killed over 1.02 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 545.530million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.33 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.