RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian forces of launching more missiles in regions across Ukraine including Kyiv, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhzhia. As air raid sirens blared in the capital Kyiv, the regional governor, Oleksy Kuleba, said air defenses shot down at least one missile. In a message on Telegram, he urged residents to stay in shelters. Mykolaiv’s governor said air defenses downed missiles in the southern region and the state emergency services said missiles also hit Zaporizhzhia in southeast Ukraine, killing at least one. Living reporting on the escalating conflict is provided by the New York Times.
Russian forces yesterday fired 84 missiles along with drones in a series of strikes that coincided with Ukraine’s morning rush hour. The death toll from those attacks has risen to 19, with 105 injured, Ukraine’s emergency services said today. Jared Malsin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine are running out of weapons and ordinary Russians can now see that his invasion is badly misjudged, according to a senior British spy chief. Sir Jeremy Fleming, head of British cyber intelligence unit GCHQ, called the decision to invade a “high-stakes strategy” where “the costs to Russia — in people and equipment — are staggering” and the “Russian population has started to understand that.” “We know — and Russian commanders on the ground know — that their supplies and munitions are running out,” Fleming said. “Russia’s forces are exhausted. The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilization of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation.” John Paul Rathbone reports for the Financial Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The leaders of the Group of 7 nations are expected to hold an emergency virtual meeting today to discuss how to respond to the escalating conflict. The agenda for the meeting has not been made public, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine made it clear yesterday that he wants more air defense systems to stop Russian aerial attacks with missiles, drones, and aircraft. James C. McKinley Jr reports for the New York Times.
NATO member states are working on ways to align their weapons purchases to better prepare for future conflicts, as they gear up for an increase in military spending to replace material sent to Ukraine. By improving purchasing cooperation, NATO hopes to make a leap in how its members would together fight a future conflict, including buying weapons systems that are easily interchangeable, plentiful, and more effective on the battlefield. NATO members also believe that Russia’s hostility and other threats mean the alliance must have more arms on hand to deter and combat any future threats. Defense ministers from NATO’s 30 countries, plus aspiring members Finland and Sweden, are set to gather in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday. Daniel Michaels and Doug Cameron report for the Wall Street Journal.
Germany will deliver the first of four air defense systems promised to Ukraine within the “next few days,” Berlin’s Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has said. In a statement issued yesterday, Lambrecht explicitly linked the need for a speedy delivery of the weapons to Moscow’s renewed strikes on nonmilitary targets across Ukraine in recent days. “Russia’s attacks with missiles and drones terrorize the civilian population in particular. That is why we are now providing support especially with air defense weapons,” she said, adding that the three remaining systems would follow. Leo Sands reports for the Washington Post.
Mass bombardments of Ukrainian cities by Russia constitute war crimes under international law, the presidents of the Bucharest Nine group of countries, accompanied by the presidents of North Macedonia and Montenegro, have said. “We, the Presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia condemn the mass bombardments of Ukrainian cities recently carried out by Russia, which constitute war crimes under international law,” they said in a statement. Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkeiwicz report for Reuters.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said yesterday that he had ordered troops to deploy with Russian forces near Ukraine. He said that the deployment was a response to a clear threat to Belarus from Kyiv and the West. “Strikes on the territory of Belarus are not just being discussed in Ukraine today, but are also being planned,” Lukashenko said at a meeting on security, without providing evidence for the assertion. “Their owners are pushing them to start a war against Belarus to drag us there.” The remarks from Lukashenko, who has held power in Belarus since 1994, indicate a potential further escalation of the war in Ukraine, possibly with a combined Russian-Belarus joint force in the north of Ukraine. Reuters reports.
Hong Kong’s leader John Lee has said that he will only implement U.N. sanctions after a luxury yacht connected to Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov docked in the city. Mordashov, who is believed to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was sanctioned by the U.S., U.K., and the E.U. after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Following Lee’s statement, the U.S. warned that the use of Hong Kong as a safe haven for those evading sanctions could affect the territory’s status as a financial center. AP reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday and “expressed his condemnation” of Russia’s missile strikes across Ukraine. Biden also vowed to keep supplying the country with “the support needed to defend itself” from Russian forces, including advanced air defense systems, according to a statement from the White House. Azi Paybarah reports for the Washington Post.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that the U.S. had long been involved in the war in Ukraine. “It seems to me that the Americans have been participating de facto in this war for a long time,” Lavrov told Russian state television. “This war is being controlled by the Anglo-Saxons.” He also said that the U.S. had made no serious offers of contact. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The U.N. General Assembly voted yesterday to reject Russia’s call for the 193-member body to hold a secret ballot later this week on whether to condemn Moscow’s illegal annexation of four partially occupied regions in Ukraine. The General Assembly decided, with 107 votes in favor, that it would hold a public vote – not a secret ballot – on a draft resolution that condemns Russia’s “illegal so-called referenda” and the “attempted illegal annexation.” Diplomats said the vote on the resolution would likely be on Wednesday or Thursday. Michelle Nichols reports for Reuters.
Delegates from Russia and Ukraine spoke before the U.N. General Assembly yesterday afternoon in New York. Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, spoke about the impact Russia’s most recent strikes had on his family. He also urged U.N. members to vote for a resolution that would demand Russia stops its illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories. Vassily Nebenzia, Moscow’s representative to the U.N., used his time to reiterate the Kremlin’s talking points on the invasion. He said Russia is “trying to protect our brothers and sisters in eastern Ukraine, their right to life … the right to speak their language, to teach their children their language, to honor the heroes who liberated their lands from fascism.” The “absolute majority” of those who voted in referendums chose to join Russia, he said. Sammy Westfall reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – ORGANIZATION OF PETROLEUM EXPORTING COUNTRIES
The U.A.E.’s president is to meet President Vladimir Putin in Moscow as the Russian leader steps up his attacks on Ukraine. The visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, follows last week’s decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers including Russia to cut the group’s daily production target – a decision that has drawn sharp criticism from the U.S. Putin and Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the Abu Dhabi ruler, will discuss regional and international issues of common interest, the U.A.E.’s state-run WAM agency said. Simon Kerr, Laura Pitel and Felicia Schwartz report for the Financial Times.
The Democratic chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee called yesterday for a freeze on cooperation with Saudi Arabia after OPEC announced it would reduce oil production. In a statement, Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ) condemned the move by Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the oil-producing alliance, arguing it would serve to “underwrite” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. “The United States must immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend U.S. personnel and interests,” the statement said. “As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine. Enough is enough,” he added. Zoë Richards reports for NBC News.
Some of the U.S.’s largest airports were targeted for cyberattacks yesterday by an attacker within the Russian Federation, according to a senior official briefed on the situation. The attacks have resulted in targeted “denial of public access” to public-facing web domains that report airport wait times and congestion. “Killnet,” a pro-Russian hacker group, is believed to be behind the attack, according to John Hultquist, head of intelligence analysis at cybersecurity firm Mandiant. While similar groups have been found to be fronts for state-backed actors, Hultquist said there is no evidence the Russian government was involved in directing this attack. Josh Margolin, Sam Sweeney, and Quinn Owen report for ABC News.
Israel has reached an “historic agreement” with neighboring Lebanon over their shared maritime border after months of U.S.-brokered negotiations, Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid has said. Yapid called the deal an “achievement that will strengthen Israel’s security, inject billions into Israel’s economy, and ensure the stability of our northern border.” The agreement is expected to enable additional natural gas production in the Mediterranean. However, it still faces some obstacles, including expected legal challenges in Israel. There was no immediate confirmation from Lebanon that a deal had been reached. AP reports.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
The Atlanta-area special grand jury investigating former President Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election has secured cooperation from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. The former top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows could offer Georgia prosecutors insights about what she witnessed in the West Wing, as well as steps her former boss took specifically when it came to Georgia. Prosecutors have previously called for Meadows to testify before the special grand jury, but they are still working to secure his testimony. Sara Murray and Zachary Cohen report for CNN.
Secret Service agents asked the agency for a record of the communications seized from their personal cellphones as part of investigations into the Jan. 6 attack, but were denied, a letter has shown. The Secret Service’s office that handles such requests, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Program, denied the request, in which agents invoked the Privacy Act to demand more information about what had been shared from their personal devices. The agents’ effort to find out through an FOIA request what records were seized and the subsequent denial of the request underscore a tension between rank-and-file Secret Service agents and the agency’s leadership over what communications should be shared with investigators. Julia Ainsley reports for NBC News.
Christina Bobb, the attorney who signed a letter certifying that all sensitive records in former President Trump’s possession had been returned to the government, spoke to federal investigators on Friday according to sources familiar with the matter. The certification statement, signed June 3 by Bobb, indicated that Trump was in compliance with a May grand jury subpoena and no longer had possession of a host of documents with classification markings at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. The FBI subsequently determined the substance of the certification was untrue. Bobb told investigators that Evan Corcoran, Trump’s lead lawyer in the case at the time, drafted the certification and told her to sign it, according to sources. Bobb also spoke to investigators about Trump legal adviser Boris Epshteyn, who she said did not help draft the statement but was minimally involved in discussions about the records, according to the sources. Marc Caputo reports for NBC News.
Newly released emails from the General Service Administration (GSA), show that GSA officials asked an aide to former President Trump to confirm what was in the boxes being shipped to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. According to the email exchange, Trump aide Beau Harrison was asked to affirm that everything packed and shipped to Florida was either “required to wind down the office of the former President or are items that are property of the Federal Government,” so it could be covered by transition funding. Harrison, one of the handful of aides interviewed by federal investigators in the spring as they sought information on presidential records, returned a letter on “The Office of Donald J. Trump” letterhead stating what was in the boxes. The email exchange between GSA officials and Harrison debunk Trump and allies’ attempts to blame the GSA for packing boxes that ended up in Mar-a-Lago. Kristen Holmes and Jeremy Herb report for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 96.699 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 621.524 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.56 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
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.