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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:
Afghanistan marked one year since the Taliban seized power. Taliban fighters staged a small victory parade through the capital city today. After one year in power, the Taliban has struggled to govern, has remained diplomatically isolated, and has failed to manage an economic downturn that has driven millions of Afghans into poverty. Meanwhile, hard-liners within the Taliban continue to impose severe restrictions on access to education and jobs for girls and women, despite initial promises to the contrary. Rahim Faiez and Ebrahim Noroozi report for AP.
In the year since the fall of Kabul and the chaotic U.S. and coalition withdrawal, Afghanistan’s economy has imploded and 24 million Afghans need humanitarian assistance (including 20 million facing acute food insecurity). “At least 1.1 million Afghan children are expected to suffer from the most severe form of malnutrition this year.” In most places, girls are not allowed to go to school after sixth grade. Media are suppressed, “and human rights groups have documented arbitrary arrests and summary executions of dissidents.” From Axios.
See also Just Security’s coverage of the anniversary as it unfolds this month.
FALLOUT FROM EXECUTION OF SEARCH WARRANT ON TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO
Republicans have pushed to see the affidavit that triggered the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. A search warrant released last week showed that former President Donald Trump had 11 sets of classified documents at his home, and that the Justice Department had probable cause to conduct the search based on possible Espionage Act violations. Republicans have called for the disclosure of more detailed information that persuaded a federal judge to issue the search warrant, which may reveal sources of information and details about the nature of the documents and other classified information. David Lawder reports for Reuters.
The search of Mar-a-Lago has raised critical national security concerns. Officials must now examine the chain of custody of the classified documents to determine if any of the intelligence was compromised. Given the highly classified nature of the documents, U.S. officials are concerned that foregin adversaries may have obtained access to sensitive information. Pierre Thomas reports for ABC News.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
As fighting rages in the country’s south, concerns are mounting over the security of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Much of the firepower of both countries has been directed at the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is located only 60 miles north of the city. Over the weekend, Russia used land around the nuclear power station, which it seized from Ukraine in March, as a staging ground for attacks on Ukrainian positions. Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins report for the New York Times.
The fighting around the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia has accelerated the civilian exodus. About a thousand cars were backed up at a crossing point over the front line between Russian-controlled and Ukrainian-controlled territory, according to people interviewed on the Ukrainian side Sunday morning. The flow of people has increased as explosions have rocked the area around the nuclear plant, risking a catastrophic nuclear event. Andrew E. Cramer reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
American basketball player Brittney Griner appealed her conviction today amid talks of a prisoner swap. Griner had been sentenced to prison in Russia on drug smuggling charges. The announcement of the appeal, which could take up to three months, comes as a high ranking Russian diplomat, Aleksandr Darchiev, said that political negotiations with the United States were already underway over a potential prisoner swap for Russians held in the United States. Ivan Nechepurenko reports for the New York Times.
The first U.N. shipment of Ukrainian grain to Africa departed yesterday. It is the first shipment specially chartered by the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) as part of an effort to direct much-needed grain to countries affected most by food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This shipment will eventually arrive in Ethiopia, which is on “the edge of famine,” according to Marianne Ward of the WFP. Michael Schwirtz reports for the New York Times.
U.S. allies in Eastern Europe are pressing for more troops and arms as their fears over a Russian invasion continue to grow. Latvia in particular has scrambled to scale up its defenses against a potential attack. The Biden administration has vowed to boost military exercises in the region to improve air-defense capability and other vital combat skills, not only in Latvia but across the Baltics and in other nations within easy striking distance of Russian forces. About 100,000 U.S. troops are deployed across Europe, an increase of 20,000 in recent months. Alex Horton, Karoun Demirjian and Michael Birnbaum report for the Washington Post.
China announced new military drills in response to a visit to Taiwan from a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). The delegation “met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and legislators, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy on the island.” Chinese officials didn’t specify where and when the new exercises were taking place. They follow four days of live-fire exercises that China carried out in the waters surrounding Taiwan after the recent visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Johnson Lai reports for the Associated Press.
Iran denied any responsibility for the attack on Salman Rushdie that has left him in critical condition. The regime cast the blame on the author himself and his supporters for the attack. “Regarding the attack on Salman Rushdie, we do not consider anyone other than [Rushdie] and his supporters worth of blame and even condemnation,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a televised news conference today. Adam Pourahmadi, Alex Stambaugh report for CNN.
Tehran has vowed to provide an official response to western proposals made during talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal. . Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani told reporters on Monday that “considerable progress” had been made during several days of talks mediated by the European Union. Iran’s official response is expected on Monday night, signaling a potential progress towards reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Al Jazeera and Bloomberg report.
U.K. regulators approved the first vaccine against COVID-19 to target two variants of the virus. The update of Moderna’s original vaccine was found to be effective for adults in clinical trials against the original virus and the omicron variant, as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. Jenny Gross reports for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected almost 92.93 million people and has killed almost 1.04 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been more than 590.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.4 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Byron Manley, Sean O’Key, 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.