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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 – RUSSIAN MOBILIZATION
Protests have erupted in Russia’s predominantly Muslim Dagestan region, as minorities claim they are being disproportionately targeted by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization orders. The mayor of the regional capital Makhachkala called for calm yesterday urging people not to “succumb to the provocations of persons engaged in anti-state activities.” “I urge you not to commit illegal acts, each of which will be assessed by the law enforcement agencies for legal consequences,” said Mayor Salman Dadayev, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Josh Pennington and Jessie Yeung report for CNN.
More than 2,350 people have been detained across Russia since Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization, according to the independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info. On Sunday, at least 128 people were detained in five cities, including Makhachkala, Yakutsk, Irkutsk, Reftinsky and Kotlas, OVD-Info said. Radina Gigova reports for CNN.
Two senior Russian lawmakers have expressed concern over “excesses” in Putin’s mobilization drive, and have called on regional officials to correct any mistakes made when recruiting civilians. Valentina Matviyenko and Vyacheslav Volodin both took to the Telegram messaging app to address what they said were the many complaints from the public about men who should be ineligible for the draft being called up. “Such excesses are absolutely unacceptable. And, I consider it absolutely right that they are triggering a sharp reaction in society,” Matviyenko, who is chair of Russia’s upper house, said. In a direct message to Russia’s regional governors — who she said had “full responsibility” for implementing the call-up, she wrote: “Ensure the implementation of partial mobilization is carried out in full and absolute compliance with the outlined criteria.” Hyder Abbasi reports for NBC News.
A registration commissar is “fighting for his life” after being shot at a military enlistment office in southeastern Siberia, according to Russian authorities. The official was left injured after a man opened fire at the facility in the Russian city of Ust-Ilimsk, in Irkutsk Region. “The shooter was immediately arrested. And he will definitely be punished,” regional governor Igor Ivanovich Kobzev said. The attack came as anger mounts over Putin’s plan to mobilize hundreds of thousands of civilians to bolster Russia’s struggling army in Ukraine. Anna Chernova and Radina Gigova report for CNN.
Russia’s mobilization effort includes forcing Ukrainians in occupied territories to fight against their own nation, according to Ukrainian officials. In the Kherson and Zaporizka regions, where sham referendums on joining Russia are currently being held, Russian occupiers are beginning to round up men to fight. All men ages 18 to 35 have been forbidden to leave and ordered to report for military duty, according to witnesses and officials, who say that many men are now in hiding or looking to escape. Forced conscription also continues in the two other occupied regions where Russian officials are staging referendums, Luhansk and Donetsk, eastern areas that have been partially controlled by Moscow since 2014. The recruitment of unwilling soldiers carries obvious risks for Russia. Military analysts have said that conscripts from Luhansk and Donetsk were part of the forces whose stunning collapse in the northeastern Kharkiv region this month allowed for Ukraine’s most successful offensive operation of the war. Marc Santora and Anna Lukinova report for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – SHAM REFERENDUMS
Armed soldiers are going door-to-door in occupied parts of Ukraine to collect votes for sham “referendums” on joining Russia, Ukrainians have reported. “You have to answer verbally and the soldier marks the answer on the sheet and keeps it,” one woman in Enerhodar told the BBC. In southern Kherson, Russian guardsmen stood with a ballot box in the middle of the city to collect people’s votes. Whilst Russian state media has maintained that the door-to-door voting is for “security”, reports of the presence of armed men conducting the vote contradict Moscow’s insistence that the referendum is a free and fair process. James Waterhouse, Paul Adams and Merlyn Thomas report for BBC News.
Just Security has published a Q&A with Professor Eliav Lieblich, an expert in the law of armed conflict and the international law of occupation, on the Russian-backed referendums in Eastern Ukraine, and their status under international law.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The U.S. has warned Russia that there will be “catastrophic consequences” if it uses nuclear weapons, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during three interviews yesterday. Sullivan’s remarks left it deliberately vague whether those consequences would be military, economic, or diplomatic. However, his use of the word “catastrophic” illustrates how quickly the rhetoric has intensified as Russia has faltered on the battlefield in recent months. David E. Sanger and Jim Tankersley report for the New York Times.
Two more mass graves have been discovered in Izium, northeast Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CBS in an interview yesterday. On Friday, Ukrainian authorities completed the exhumation of over 400 bodies from a previously discovered mass burial site in Izium. Most of the bodies showed signs of violent death, and 30 had traces of torture, according to an official. Mick Krever reports for CNN.
Ukraine has warned of growing attacks by drones supplied to Russia by Iran. On Saturday, an attack by an Iranian-made drone in Odesa killed one person, officials said. On Sunday, in Odesa, the Ukrainian military southern command said that enemy drones “hit the administrative building in the center of the city three times,” adding that a fourth drone had been shot down. In response to this increasing threat, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revoked the accreditation of the Iranian ambassador to Ukraine and significantly reduced the number of diplomatic personnel at the Iranian Embassy. Marc Santora reports for the New York Times.
Japan has announced a ban on exports of chemical weapons-related goods to Russia, following a decision by Group of Seven foreign ministers last week. The decision came as Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno expressed grave concern over Russia’s possible use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine. “As the world’s only country to have suffered nuclear attacks, we strongly demand that the threat or use of nuclear weapons by Russia should never happen,” Matsuno told a regular news conference. AP reports.
A fifth member of an Iranian volunteer paramilitary group died yesterday after clashing with demonstrators protesting the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. Since Friday, demonstrations have taken place in at least 40 cities nationwide, including the capital Tehran, with protesters demanding an end to violence and discrimination against women as well as an end to compulsory wearing of the hijab. The protests have continued despite a crackdown by security forces, arrests of protestors, and internet disruption. Hamdi Alkhshali and Jomana Karadsheh report for CNN.
At least 41 people have been killed in protests across Iran, according to Iran’s state media. As of Sunday, at least 18 journalists had been arrested during the unrest, including several who were taken into custody during early morning raids on their homes, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said. Kareem Fahim and Babak Dehghanpisheh report for the Washington Post.
Iran has accused the U.S. of using protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini to try to destabilize the country. “Washington is always trying to weaken Iran’s stability and security although it has been unsuccessful,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani told Nour news. On his Instagram page, Kanaani accused the leaders of the U.S. and some European countries of abusing a tragic incident in support of “rioters” and ignoring “the presence of millions of people in the streets and squares of the country in support of the system”. Reuters reports.
Iran summoned the British and Norwegian ambassadors on Saturday, over the countries’ responses to the recent protests in the country. The British ambassador was summoned in response to the “hostile character” of London-based Persian language media while the Norwegian envoy was summoned to explain the “interventionist stance” of the country’s parliament speaker on Iran’s internal affairs, the semi-official ISNA news agency said. Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the ultraconservative Brother of Italy party, looks set to claim victory in Italy’s general election. With 63% of votes counted, the Brothers of Italy party had won at least 26%, with coalition partners the League, led by Matteo Salvini, taking around 9% and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia scoring over 8%. Final results are expected later today, but it’s expected to take weeks for a new government to be formed. Meloni would be Italy’s first female prime minister and would lead the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini. Kara Fox, Barbie Latza Nadeau, Antonia Mortensen, Nicola Ruotolo, Sharon Braithwaite and Valentina DiDonato report for CNN.
China vehemently asserted its claim to Taiwan on Saturday, telling world leaders that anyone who gets in the way of its reunification ambitions would be “crushed by the wheels of history.” “Only when China is fully reunified can there be true peace across the Taiwan Strait,” Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said at the U.N. General Assembly. Beijing would “take the most forceful steps to oppose external interference,” he added. AP reports.
North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast on Sunday, South Korea’s military said, ahead of joint military drills between U.S. and South Korean forces and a visit by Vice President Harris. Speaking ahead of Harris’s visit to the region this week, a senior U.S. administration official said any missile test timed to coincide with her trip “would result in additional action by the United States to demonstrate our ironclad commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea and to our Japanese allies.” The vice president is expected to discuss with her South Korean counterparts the growing North Korean threat and demonstrate solidarity with Seoul. Min Joo Kim and Rachel Pannett report for the Washington Post.
Intelligence officials have resumed their national security risk review of top-secret documents seized from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. The resumption comes after a federal appeals court delivered the Justice Department a decisive win, unanimously blocking elements of a lower-court ruling that forced federal prosecutors to seek a pause in the highly anticipated intelligence review. “In consultation with the Department of Justice, ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] is resuming the classification review of relevant materials and assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of the relevant documents,” an ODNI spokesperson said. Andrew Desiderio reports for POLITICO.
If the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack makes a criminal referral for former President Trump it should be made unanimously, panel member Rep. Adam Schiff has said. “We operate with a high degree of consensus and unanimity,” the California Democrat said yesterday. “It will be certainly, I think, my recommendation, my feeling, that we should make referrals, but we will get to a decision as a committee, and we will all abide by that decision, and I will join our committee members if they feel differently.” It has previously been reported that whilst the committee is in wide agreement that Trump committed a crime in relation to the Jan. 6 attack, they are split on whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department. Daniella Diaz and Devan Cole report for CNN.
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) yesterday suggested that there is “pressure” for House Republicans to move to impeach President Biden if they gain control of the chamber after the midterm elections. “I believe there’s pressure on the Republicans to put that forward and have that vote,” Mace told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” When asked if she foresees impeachment proceedings should her party win control of the House. “I think that’s what some folks are considering.” Mace did not mention the source of the alleged pressure and did not elaborate on who is considering the move, but she did make clear that she would not vote for impeachment in circumstances where “due process was stripped away.” Sonnet Swire reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 96.07 million people and has now killed over 1.06 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 615.170 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.54 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.