RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
A series of explosions rocked a Russian airbase in Crimea yesterday. Kyiv did not publicly claim responsibility for the blast, which killed at least one person, though a senior Ukrainian military official with knowledge of the situation told the New York Times that Ukrainian forces carried out the attack, as their offensive into the country’s occupied south continues. The official also confirmed that the attack involved partisan resistance forces loyal to the government in Kyiv. Michael Schwirtz reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian officials called on the U.N. to inspect a nuclear plant in Russian-occupied territory. The nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia had been struck by shellfire, damaging a storage facility for nuclear fuel. Calls for the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the facility have increased over concerns about the risks of an accident. According to Ukrainian regional officials, Russian forces stationed artillery and other weapons at the complex and last month began shelling the nearby city of Nikopol from positions at the facility. Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Maria Varenikova report for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Russia launched an Iranian satellite yesterday, in a sign of closer collaboration. Western analysts say that the satellite will improve Iran’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, though Tehran claims it will not be used for military purposes. The launch comes as Russia and Iran have grown closer in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Iran said this week that the satellite launch is part of a four-year space cooperation agreement between the two countries. U.S. officials and some independent experts said it would dramatically improve Tehran’s ability to monitor sites, including potential military targets, in Israel and the wider Middle East. Neil MacFarquhar, Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi report for the New York Times.
Canada and Sweden announced that they would join a U.K.-led program to train thousands of Ukrainian forces. The initiative aims to train as many as 10,000 soldiers every 120 days at bases in England. Thousands of Ukrainians have already gone through the training, according to a spokeswoman for the U.K. Defense Ministry. She said the recruits had been flown from Ukraine by British military planes to the Royal Air Force’s Brize Norton base in southern England. Cora Engelbrecht reports for the New York Times.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed documents yesterday to accept Sweden and Finland as new members of NATO. All 32 current members of NATO must ratify the accession, and 20 have already done so. Zolan Kanno-Youngs reports for the New York Times.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on Tuesday with the Select Committee, which has shown an increased interest in members of Trump’s Cabinet and discussions they had related to invoking the 25th Amendment after Jan. 6. The amendment allows a vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to vote to remove a president from office for his or her inability to “discharge the powers and duties of his office.” “[Pompeo] came in willingly, and he did answer questions for quite some time,” panel member Rep. Zoe Lofgren said. “It’s just a matter of filling out the entire picture, especially on that day and the events subsequent to that day, where the Cabinet secretaries had concerns about the President.” Kara Scannell reports for CNN.
Trump-backed Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania “didn’t answer a single question” in his virtual appearance on Tuesday before the Select Committee, a meeting that lasted only about 15 minutes. Mastriano’s lawyer, Tim Parlatore, took issue with several procedural matters with the deposition and questioned the legality of the subpoena issued to Mastriano from the committee. “We’re happy to provide the information if they can either do it fairly and legally or if we can reach a resolution on how to do a voluntary interview which minimizes the risk of election interference, Parlatore said” Sara Murray, Zachary Cohen, and Kara Scannell report for CNN.
Taiwan yesterday launched its two-day military exercise Tianlei, translated as “Heaven’s Thunder,” featuring an hour-long live-firing drill involving more than 700 troops and 38 howitzers firing 114 shells into the waters of its southern coast. Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have been at their highest in decades. China’s military stated on Monday that it was indefinitely expanding its military drills. Joyu Wang and Karen Hao report for the Wall Street Journal.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has removed several ministers linked to the controversial Unification Church from government and announced a new government team with a Cabinet reshuffle that occurred earlier than expected. While key figures such as Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi held on to their position, several high-profile Cabinet members were removed. The latter include Nobuo Kishi, who is the younger brother of the late Shinzo Abe, and Koichi Gaiuda, who was the industry minister. “[Kishida is] basically doing damage control,” political commentator Atsuo Ito stated. Abe’s alleged assassin has accused the church of bankrupting his mother and blamed Abe for supporting it. Elaine Lies, Yoshifumi Takenmoto, Sakura Murakami, and Tetsushi Kajimoto report for Reuters.
The Kenyan presidential election passed largely peacefully on Tuesday amid lower turnout than usual, and voters now await the results. The two front-runners for the presidency in the close contest are longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga (backed by former rival and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta and who ran for president four times previously) and Deputy President William Ruto. With both being longtime figures on the political scene, voters expressed skepticism of any significant change and frustration with inflation and corruption. Although official election results will be announced within a week of the vote, the anticipated winner may be known Wednesday. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes, a runoff election will be held. Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The United States and Iran are weighing a new, final offer of a deal from the E.U. According to Western officials, the European Union has presented a ‘final’ agreement to Iran and the United States before the negotiations collapse permanently. “What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it’s now in a final text,” the E.U. foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, said Monday on Twitter. A State Department spokesman said the United States was “ready to quickly conclude a deal” and that the E.U. proposal was “the only possible basis” for it. However, U.S. officials are skeptical that Iran is prepared to roll back its program in exchange for relief from sanctions that have weakened its economy. Michael Crowley, Steven Erlanger and Farnaz Fassihi report for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected more than 92.3 million people and has killed 1.03 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been more than 586.4 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.