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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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan today. The meeting is meant to signal the strength of the relationship between the two leaders at a time of increasing animosity from the West. For Xi, the meeting is also a chance to resume his role as a global statesman. It is his first trip abroad since he went to Myanmar in January 2020. Austin Ramzy reports for the New York Times.
The Russian and Chinese navies are conducting joint patrols in the Pacific Ocean ahead of the face-to-face meeting between Putin and Xi. “The crews are practicing joint tactical manoeuvring and organization of communication between the ships, conducting a series of exercises with practical artillery firing, and facilitating deck helicopter flights,” Russia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement. “The objectives of the patrols are to strengthen naval cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, to monitor maritime waters, and to protect maritime economic activities of the Russian Federation and the PRC,” it added. Hannah Ritchie and Josh Pennington report for CNN.
Russia conducted a missile strike on water infrastructure in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s home town of Kryviy Rih yesterday. The strike came after Zelenskyy made his first trip to the Kharkiv region since Ukrainian forces recaptured thousands of square miles of territory there over the weekend. According to Ukrainian officials, the strike appeared to be an attempt to flood the central Ukrainian city or leave it without water. It is the second strike Moscow has conducted on critical civilian infrastructure inside Ukraine since the Russian retreat last week. Ian Lovett and James Marson report for the Wall Street Journal.
Sweden’s right-wing parties have combined to win a remarkable, if slim, election victory. With over 99 per cent of ballots counted, the Swedish Election Authority reported that the right-wing bloc had won 176 of the 349 seats in Parliament. The most striking development was support for the Sweden Democrats, once considered an extremist party, which emerged as the second-most popular party in the country. However, while the party’s support will be essential to the right-wing bloc maintaining its majority in Parliament, it is unlikely to be a formal part of the new government. During the election campaign, the bloc of right-wing parties agreed to support a government led by the center-right Moderate Party but not one led by the Sweden Democrats. The new government is therefore expected to be led by Ulf Kristersson, head of the Moderates, who would become prime minister. Christina Anderson and Isabella Kwai report for the New York Times.
In a landmark ruling yesterday, Europe’s top human rights court condemned the French government over its refusal to bring home the families of two Islamic State fighters. The decision was the first time the court ruled on the repatriation of European families who joined the Islamic State and have been held in Syrian camps run by Kurdish forces since 2019. In a statement, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights said that there had been a violation of the family members’ right to return home, adding that “the French government would be expected to promptly re-examine” the families’ request to be repatriated and “afford them appropriate safeguards against any arbitrariness.” The ruling is significant as it could increase pressure on France and other European countries to accelerate the repatriation process to avoid future legal challenges. Constant Méheut reports for the New York Times.
A truce between Armenian and Azerbaijan has been reached after two days of violence over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a senior Armenian official has said. The recent exchange has been the deadliest between the countries since 2020, with Armenian and Azerbaijan reporting 150 and 50 military deaths respectively. There has been no word from Azerbaijan about a truce. Reuters reports.
State Department officials said yesterday that they are moving ahead with plans to provide conditional military aid to Eygpt, despite concerns from Democratic lawmakers over the country’s human rights record. In a letter sent to the State Department on Tuesday, seven lawmakers, led by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (NY), urged the department up withhold the entire amount of aid that is supposed to be contingent on human rights reforms, which for the coming year is $300 million. However, officials told reporters that the department has decided to give $170 million of that amount – whilst withholding the rest because of concerns about human rights. Edward Wong and Vivian Yee report for the New York Times.
The Justice Department has charged three Iranians in a wide-ranging global hacking campaign that targeted local governments, public utilities and nonprofit institutions. According to an indictment unsealed in New Jersey, the men, who remain at large in Iran, breached the computers of hundreds of people in the U.S., Israel, Russia and the U.K.. The State Department, which is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to their capture, said that those charged worked for tech companies linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a powerful branch of Iran’s military. The cyberattacks were not directed by the Iranian government, senior law enforcement officials have said. Glenn Thrush reports for the New York Times.
The Biden administration is considering sanctions targeting entities linked to Iran for encouraging attacks on the novelist Salman Rushdie. The sanctions under consideration include restricting the access of these entities – some of which have offered rewards to kill Rushdie – to the global financial system, according to people familiar with the matter. Rushdie, who spent years under police protection after Iranian leaders called for his execution over the 1988 book “The Satanic Verses,” was stabbed multiple times before a planned lecture in New York last month. Benoit Faucon and Ian Talley report for the Wall Street Journal.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department’s investigation into events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. This makes him the highest-ranking Trump official known to have responded to a subpoena in the federal investigation. In complying with the subpoena Meadows turned over the same materials he provided to the House committee, according to a source familiar with the matter. This included thousands of text messages and emails, including those sent between Election Day 2020 and President Biden’s inauguration. Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Jeremy Herb and Kristen Holmes reports for CNN.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is seeking another batch of emails sent by attorney John Eastman – an architect of former President Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election. The committee had previously opted to defer determinations on 576 documents totalling 3,236 pages. However, in a court filing yesterday, House counsel Douglas Letter urged a federal judge in California to review the remaining emails to determine whether Eastman’s efforts to shield them — by claiming attorney-client privilege — were legitimate. “As the Select Committee reaches the final months of its tenure under its current authorizing resolution, it now respectfully seeks such in camera review so that it may complete its efforts, including preparation of the final report,” Letter wrote in a three-page filing to U.S. District Court Judge David Carter. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared an emergency yesterday following an influx of migrants bused to Chicago and other cities by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Pritzker also called up 75 members of the Illinois National Guard to marshal resources to cope with the 500 or so migrants that have arrived in Chicago since Aug. 31. His proclamation will help the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and other state agencies coordinate with the city of Chicago, Cook County, and other local governments, to provide services to the migrants, officials said. Services include transportation, emergency shelter and housing, food and medical attention. Joe Barrett reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is claiming credit for sending two planes carrying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, according to a statement by his office. “Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” the statement said. “States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden Administration’s open border policies.” Priscilla Alvarez reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 95.49 million people and has now killed over 1.05 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 610.473 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.52 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 the Washington Post.