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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 – GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal on Friday to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports, Turkish officials said. While Russia and Ukraine did not immediately confirm the Turkish presidency office’s announcement, Zelenskyy’s late-night video address suggested that Ukraine’s Black Sea ports could soon be unblocked. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Russian defense minister, and Ukraine’s infrastructure minister are heading to Istanbul for the signing. Ezgi Erkoyun and Max Hunder report for Reuters.
Half of all the Russian spies operating under diplomatic cover in Europe (about 400 Russian diplomats) have been expelled since the start of the war in Ukraine, the chief of MI6, the U.K. intelligence agency, has told a U.S. security conference. Richard Moore also said that western intelligence agencies had made “pretty concerted” efforts to disrupt Russian spying networks since the invasion. Dan Sabbagh reports for The Guardian.
The EU’s seventh wave of economic sanctions hitting Russian gold, a major bank, a nationalist motorcycle club known as the Nightwolves, and actors backing Vladimir Putin have been approved. While European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen lauded the sanctions as a “strong signal,” Zelenskyy described them as insufficient. Daniel Boffey reports for The Guardian.
Russia added Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia, and Slovakia to its list of “unfriendly” countries, which previously included the Czech Republic and the United States. Once listed, these countries are limited in their ability to hire workers in Russia for embassies, consulates, and representative offices of state bodies. Anna Chernova reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
The Ukrainian military says Russian assaults in three areas (Kharkiv, Sloviansk, and in the south along the border of the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions) failed to gain ground. “The Ukrainian military has reported another day of heavy artillery and rocket fire by Russian forces in both the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, accompanied by airstrikes.” In the direction of Sloviansk, Russia launched artillery fire in areas to the north of the city. The shelling has continued for the past 20 days, and water and electricity are in short supply. Tim Lister reports for CNN.
Russia claims to have killed “up to 300” Ukrainian service personnel in a strike on a schoolin Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. The claims could not be independently verified. The Russian Ministry of Defense also claimed that, from July 5 to July 20, its military destroyed four launchers and a transport-loading vehicle for U.S.-supplied Himars missiles, and shot down 12 Ukrainian drones. Martin Belam reports for The Guardian.
JAN. 6 ATTACK – PUBLIC HEARINGS
In its last July hearing, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol showed what it called “Trump’s ‘complete dereliction’” of his duty. Among other failings, Trump never made a single call to law enforcement or the Pentagon and ignored numerous pleas for hours, including from his own political advisor and daughter Ivanka Trump, to call off his supporters. And Trump refused to say the next day that the election was over. Michael S. Schmidt provides analysis for the New York Times.
Trump “chose not to act” despite the protest turning violent, according to the committee. He resisted his adies’ entreaties for him to make a public condemnation and instead requested a list of senators’ phone numbers to persuade them not to certify the electoral count. Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post.
Trump put Vice President Mike Pence in further peril when he sent his 2:24 pm tweet claiming that Pence “didn’t have the courage” to halt the vote count. Radio communication with the Secret Service detail for Pence, according to one unnamed witness, revealed that the officers were ‘starting to fear for their own lives’ and there were ‘calls to say goodbye to family members.’ Former national security official Matt Pottinger and former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews testified that Trump’s tweet led them to resign. Opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin writes for the Washington Post.
The Select Committee will continue its public hearings this September as new evidence and witnesses have come in, according to the panel’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney. “Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” said Cheney. Doina Ciacu and Rose Horowitch report for Reuters.
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general told the Secret Service to halt its internal investigation into how phone records from around Jan. 6 were purged, in a letter referring to a criminal inquiry. This includes “refraining from interviewing potential witnesses, collecting devices or taking any other action that would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation.” The letter was sent to the Secret Service on the night of July 20. Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Maggie Haberman report for the New York Times.
OTHER U.S. DEVELOPMENTS
The Supreme Court on July 21, refused to reinstate the Biden administration’s policy limiting immigration arrests, after a Texas district judge said the guidance to deportation officers violated federal laws. The administration will not be able to implement its strategy until after the Court hears the merits of the case in December. It was Justice KetanjiBrown Jackson’s first recorded vote since she joined the court June 30. It was a 5-4 decision, in which she dissented. Robert Barnes and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post.
The Mississippi Board of Education voted yesterday, July 21, to remove a policy that barred individuals with enhanced concealed carry permits from carrying guns in the state’s elementary and secondary public schools. The targeted 1990 policy prohibited anyone other than ‘duly authorized law enforcement officials’ from doing so and was alleged to conflict with state law. Ashton Pittman reports for Mississippi Free Press.
Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed Dinesh Gunawardena, an ally of the Rajapaksa political family, as his prime minister, hours after security forces conducted an overnight raid of the main protest camp. Security forces cleared the camp despite the protestors’ announcement that they would voluntarily vacate the site today, with several protestors hospitalized and journalists and lawyers arrested. Last week, the protests forced out former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose family has ruled Sri Lanka for most of the last two decades. Krishan Francis, Rafiq Maqbool, and Rishi Lekhi report for AP.
South Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol called for a criminal investigation of the past Moon administration as new photos of two North Korean men being deported in 2019 resurfaced accusations of a potential “crime against humanity.” At the time, the South Korean government called the men “murderers” who had killed 16 fellow North Korean fisherman, but it was the first time South Korea rejected a North Korean request to defect and forced someone back to North Korea. Choe Sang-Hun reports for the New York Times.
U.S. President Biden tested positive for COVID-19 as the virus surges during the summer. “Mr. Biden was experiencing mild symptoms, including a runny nose, fatigue and a dry cough, Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House Covid coordinator, said on Thursday. He said that moving Mr. Biden to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center remained an option but was not now necessary.” Ron DePasquale reports for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected more than 90.2 million people and has now killed 1.03 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 568 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.4 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.