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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.
HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING
Six people were killed in a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois yesterday. More than 40 other people were treated in hospital after the shooting. The police have arrested a “person of interest” in the attack, identified as 22-year-old Robert E. Crimo III.The shooting comes in the wake of two major mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. Mark Guarino, Susan Berger, Meryl Kornfield, James Bikales and Joby Warrick report for the Washington Post.
Police said that the shooter used a high powered rifle, though they did not disclose further details, including how it was acquired. Illinois has the sixth strictest gun-safety laws in the United States, and the ninth-lowest rate of gun ownership, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group. In 2013, Highland Park passed an ordinance banning assault weapons — which it defined as semi automatic guns that could accept large-capacity magazines and have certain features, specifically AR-15 and AK-47s. Victoria Kim reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Putin declared victory in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk. In a televised meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin said Russian forces had “achieved success, victory” in Luhansk. The region was the last major stronghold for Ukrainian forces in the country’s east. Victoria Bisset reports for the Washington Post.
Russian forces are likely to concentrate on seizing Donetsk after achieving victory in Luhansk, a Ukrainian official said Monday. Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai told Reuters that he expected Moscow to specifically target the city of Slovyansk and the town of Bakhmut as it seeks to take control of the larger Donbas area in the east of the country, which includes Luhansk and Donetsk.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said that his forces remained undeterred in their effort to defeat Russia, despite setbacks in the country’s east. “There have been no significant changes on the battlefield in the past 24 hours,” Zelenskyy said in a nightly video message. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day. We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative.” Tom Balmforth and Max Hunder report for Reuters.
Zelenskyy also unveiled a $750 billion recovery plan for Ukraine. Zelenskyy spoke by video message to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland about the needs of the country once the war has come to an end. “The reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project, is not a project of one nation, but a common task of the entire democratic world — all countries, all countries who can say they are civilized,” Zelenskyy said. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said such a recovery would require a sort of “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine to help it rebuild. Jamey Keaten reports for AP.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The British government announced yesterday that it would be imposing a new slate of sanctions on Belarus for its role in supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The new law extends significant sanctions that were already placed on Russia to Belarus, “as the Lukashenko regime continues to actively facilitate Putin’s illegal invasion,” a government announcement said.The new legislation will block the trade of around $72.7 million (£60 million) in goods with Belarus. The sanctions block the export from Britain to Belarus of oil refining goods, advanced technology parts, and luxury goods, including British art and designer handbags. The new package also blocks the import to the United Kingdom of Belarusian iron and steel. Sammy Westfall reports for the Washington Post.
NATO approved the inclusion of Sweden and Finland into the multilateral security alliance, as ratification now moves to nations’ parliaments. The signing at NATO headquarters follows a deal with Turkey at last week’s NATO summit in Madrid, where Ankara lifted its veto on the Nordic membership bids following assurances that both countries would do more to fight terrorism. Their membership must be ratified by each country, a process expected to take up to a year. Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold report for Reuters.
Pope Francis suggested in an interview released yesterday that he may visit Ukraine and Russia to call for an end to the war. The Pope told Reuters that a Vatican official had been in contact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible papal visit to Moscow. “I would like to go [to Ukraine], and I wanted to go to Moscow first,” he told Reuters. Annabelle Timsit reports for the Washington Post.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov threatened to retaliate against Bulgaria after 70 Russian diplomats were expelled from the country. Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov declared them “persona non grata” on Sunday and gave them until the end of the week to leave the country. Lavrov’s comments come just a few days after Russia’s ambassador to Bulgaria threatened to close the embassy entirely. James Bikales reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
Womens’ National Basketball Association player Britney Griner, who has been arrested and is facing a trial in Russia, made a personal appeal to President Biden yesterday. In a letter passed to the White House through her representatives she said she feared she might never return home and asked that he not “ forget about me and the other American Detainees.” The two-time Olympic gold medalist is in the midst of a trial in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on Feb. 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to Russia. Jim Heinzt reports for AP.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will turn its focus to the involvement of extremist groups and a minute-by-minute account of the events in the White House that day. The hearings thus far have focused on the role played by former President Donald Trump and his closest allies in attempting to overturn the results of the election. In the coming weeks, the committee will turn its attention to Jan. 6 itself and the alleged ways that extremist groups planned for and executed the attack on Congress. Scott Patterson reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The House committee is receiving new information and testimony by the day, according to Republican congressman and committee member Adam Kinzinger. Kinzinger said that the testimony given by Cassidy Hutchinson to the committee last week has inspired more witnesses to come forward and the committee is acquiring new evidence daily. Edward Helmore reports for the Guardian.
New insights provided by the Jan. 6 Committee have begun to chip away at doubts over former President Trump’s intentions that day. Testimony presented in recent weeks by the House Committee investigating the Capitol attack–including insider accounts like those from Cassidy Hutchinson–have brought to light new evidence. Peter Baker provides analysis for the New York Times.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The official U.S. government investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has concluded that she was likely killed by unintentional Israeli fire. According to State Department’s spokespersonNed Price, the bullet that killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh likely originated from an Israeli soldier, but there was “no reason to believe this was intentional.” Following the State Department announcement, Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told the Palestinian news agency that officials believed the United States was looking to protect Israel. “We will not allow attempts to conceal the truth or to have shy references in pointing the finger of accusation to Israel,” said al-Sheikh. Shira Rubin reports for the Washington Post.
Iran has added a new set of demands unrelated to its nuclear program to the negotiations, according to the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley. The news comes as efforts to revive the negotiations in Doha last week failed to result in a breakthrough. According to one official, chances of reinstating a deal are worse after the Doha talks. “The prospects for a deal after Doha are worse than they were before Doha and they will be getting worse by the day,” said the official on condition of anonymity. Reuters reports.
Secretary of State Blinken will meet with his Chinese counterpart next week at the G20 summit in Bali. According to a State Department official, he will meet with Wang Yi alongside the other foreign ministers present for the multilateral meeting. Reuters reports.
American F-35 fighter planes arrived in South Korea today for joint military drills. This marks the first time since 2017 that advanced U.S. warplanes have been used publicly with South Korea. Joint military drills had been publicly scaled back in recent years, first in 2018 because of efforts to engage diplomatically with North Korea and later because of the COVID-19 pandemic. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has sought to increase public displays of allied military power, including exercises, to counter a record number of missile tests conducted by North Korea this year. This comes as North Korea appears to be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017. Josh Smith reports for Reuters.
Italy is facing its worst drought in decades as high temperatures hit Europe. The Po, Italy’s longest river and the main water source for some of the country’s most fertile farmlands, is at its lowest level since at least the mid-1940s. “Temperatures are rising and that means more droughts like we are seeing in Italy,” said Claudio Gandolfi, a professor of agricultural hydraulics at the University of Milan. “We can’t pretend extreme weather events won’t bring crises like this.” In Italy, corn and soybean production could fall 50% this year, according to farmers’ association Cia-Agricoltori Italiani. That will put up upward price pressure in a market for food commodities already strained by the war in Ukraine. Eric Sylvers reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Euro neared a near twenty-year low against the dollar today as fears of a recession grow. European policymakers usually tend to welcome a weaker currency, which helps to boost the region’s exports by lowering their cost in international markets. But a weak euro can also drive up inflation because it increases import prices. That is a problem when eurozone inflation is at a record high of 8.6%, especially since energy and commodities are often invoiced in dollars. Caitlin Ostroff and Tom Fairless report for the Wall Street Journal.
Three people were killed in a shooting in Copenhagen Sunday. An additional three people are in critical condition following the attack at one of the city’s major shopping malls. The police have taken a 22-year-old Dane into custody in connection with the shooting. The man had a rifle and ammunition in his possession, according to the police. Shootings in Denmark remain incredibly rare. According to one source of gun violence data kept by the University of Sydney, Denmark has a little over one gun death per 100,000 people annually, while the United States has a little over 12. By Vimal Patel and Jasmina Nielsen report for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 87.62 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 547.540 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.34 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 theWashington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.