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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
Ukrainian officials have confirmed strikes on a major bridge in Kherson that was used to reinforce and resupply Russian forces in southern Ukraine. Several large detonations near the Antonivskyi Bridge were shown in multiple social media videos. Nataliya Humeniuk, spokeswoman for Operational Command South, confirmed the strikes on television. Humeniuk also stated that the counteroffensive in southern Ukraine continues and Andriyivka and Lozove villages have been liberated. Tim Lister and Josh Pennington report for CNN.
Ukrainian officials say fighting continues around the eastern city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, where Russian forces are making incremental territorial gains. Social media videos show Russian forces in control of a power plant around the settlement of Novoluhanske, a battleground for the past several weeks. Ukraine military’s General Staff reported that another Russian assault in the area of Verkhniokamianske had failed. Tim Lister reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The European Union agreed on Tuesday to curb natural gas consumption starting next week, aiming for voluntary cuts of up to 15 percent by the spring. The curbs may become mandatory should Russia suddenly cut supplies, triggering an energy crisis. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, stated that “by acting together to reduce the demand for gas, taking into account all the relevant national specificities, the EU has secured the strong foundations for the indispensable solidarity between Member States in the face of the Putin’s energy blackmail.” Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports for the New York Times.
Britain’s Foreign Office on Tuesday froze the assets of Graham Phillips, a pro-Kremlin blogger that moved to Ukraine more than a decade ago. Phillips spent the last couple of years creating and disseminating propaganda videos, gathering thousands of followers on a YouTube account that praises the Russian invasion. Phillips in an email reported that he, a British citizen, had not been given any warning of the decision and questioned its legality. The move comes following the Foreign Office’s announcement on Tuesday of new sanctions targeting Putin’s supporters, including Russian-installed officials in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Megan Specia and Euan Ward report for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – RUSSIA’S RESPONSE
Russia plans on withdrawing from the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 and building its own station, ending a collaboration that started in 1998. A joint project of five space agencies, ISS has been in orbit since 1998, where thousands of scientific experiments have been conducted and is approved to operate until 2024. Former ISS commander Dr. Leroy Chiao told BBC that he believes that “…this is posturing by the Russians. They don’t have the money to build their own station and it would take several years to do it. They’ve got nothing else if they go this route.” The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said it had received no official notice of the move. Ben Tobias reports for the BBC.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Justice Department officials investigating former President Donald Trump’s actions in the lead up to the Jan. 6 attack have obtained phone records of key officials and his aides, including Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Prosecutors have been asking witnesses – including two top aides to Pence – about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to replace Biden’s electors. The questioning has also involved Trump-led meetings in Dec. 2020 and Jan. 2021, Trump’s pressure campaign on Pence, and what instructions Trump gave to his advisers and lawyers about fake electors. Darol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Spencer S. Hsu report for the Washington Post.
The State Bar of Georgia, the governing body of the legal profession in Georgia, is investigating Brad Carver of Atlanta and Daryl R. Moody of Alpharetta, two Republican lawyers who served as fake electors for Trump. A nonprofit legal watchdog launched complaints in March contending that the attorneys disregarded the U.S. Constitution and violated federal and state laws, along with professional conduct rules against engaging in dishonest, fraudulent, or deceitful acts by falsely swearing to be Georgia’s official presidential electors in documents submitted to state and federal officials. David Wickert reports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Tunisians have approved a newConstitution that cements the one-man rule instituted by President Kais Saied when he seized power and suspended Parliament a year ago, according to results released by the electoral authority. Despitemass boycotts and voter apathy, the new Constitution was approved by 94.6 percent. Although it preserves many of the 2014 Constitution’s clauses concerning rights and liberties, the new Constitution will return Tunisia to a presidential system like the one under Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the dictator who was usurped in the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. Vivian Yee reports for the New York Times.
A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the northern Philippine island of Luzon on Wednesday, resulting in four casualties, 60 injured, and significant damage to infrastructure. The earthquake struck 11 kilometers (six miles) southeast of the town of Dolores, at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), reverberations of which were felt through the capital, Manila. “Despite the sad reports about the damages caused by the earthquake, we are assuring quick response to those in need and affected by this calamity,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Facebook. Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema report for Reuters.
Longtime adviser to Hungarian Prime Minister Vicktor Orbán, Zusuzsa Hegedüs, resigned on Tuesday, four days after Orbán’s declaration that “mixed race” countries were “no longer nations.” Referring to the region that covers Hungary and Romania, Orbán said, “We are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become mixed race.” Hegedüs’s resignation letter said, a “pure Nazi text…That you are able to deliver an openly racist speech would not occur to me even in a nightmare.” While Orbán responded with his own letter speaking of a “zero-tolerance policy” toward anti-Semitism and racism, Hegedüs fired a second letter stating that others died too because people stayed silent when hate first emerged. Lili Bayer reports for Politico.
Talks on Thursday between the U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s leader Xi Jinping are expected to cover disagreements on Taiwan and the war in Ukraine, as well as the management of economic competition between the two countries. This will be the fifth call between the leaders, which comes as China delivers warnings to Biden about U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that, while Pelosi’s overseas travel was a matter of national security due to her line of succession to the presidency, only she can make the final call. Michael Martina, Steve Holland, and Trevor Hunnicutt report for Reuters.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that the world could be on the brink of a recession in light of the substantial slowdown in the major economies of the United States, China, and Europe. The probability of a recession starting in one of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies is four times its usual level at nearly 15 percent. The IMF stated in its update of the World Economic Outlook that economic prospects have dampened due to the war in Ukraine and a resurgent pandemic. Alan Rappeport reports for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected more than 90.7 million people and has killed around 1.03 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 572.6 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.