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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 – ILLEGAL ANNEXATION OF UKRAINIAN TERRITORIES
The U.N. General Assembly yesterday voted to adopt a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Russia’s illegal annexation of territory in Ukraine. The resolution won by a vote of 143-5, with 35 abstentions, following significant diplomatic efforts by the U.S. and its allies. However, whilst the resolution won by far more than the required two-thirds majority of the U.N.’s 193 members, the vote was numerically nearly identical to the one in March, just 10 days after Russia’s invasion, despite over 7 months of brutal war. Karen DeYoung reports for the Washington Post.
President Biden said “the world has sent a clear message,” after the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian zones as illegal. “Russia is tearing at the very foundations of international peace and security. The stakes of this conflict are clear to all — and the world has sent a clear message in response: Russia cannot erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia cannot change borders by force. Russia cannot seize another country’s territory as its own,” Biden said in a statement. “Nearly eight months into this war, the world has just demonstrated that it is more united, and more determined than ever to hold Russia accountable for its violations.” CNN reports.
Russia has imposed border rules in Zaporizhzhia in an attempt to solidify its illegal annexation of the region. Ukrainian civilians who fled Russian-held territory in recent days have reported being required to provide extensive documentation to leave, including birth certificates, expected return dates, and even the serial numbers of their cell phones. “The Russians are trying to install a permanent, official border crossing, and so these are the measures that they are trying to establish,” said Oleksii Savytskyi, a Ukrainian official who oversees the arrival of civilian convoys from Russian-held territory to the regional capital, also called Zaporizhzhia, which is still under Ukrainian control. The new measures have slowed the exodus of civilians from illegally occupied areas to a trickle, officials have said. Louisa Loveluck, Emily Rauhala and Robyn Dixon report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
NATO is developing a 10-year plan to rebuild the Ukrainian defense industry, with the first meeting between the alliance and Kyiv expected for next week. The meeting will be the start of a long process hinted at for weeks by U.S. and NATO officials of a long-term commitment to Ukraine to bring it closer to the alliance in both training and equipment. “We will be looking at defense planning requirements to get Ukraine fully interoperable with NATO,” said a senior NATO official speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It’s about shifting away from Soviet equipment … to NATO-compatible Western equipment,” the official said. Paul McLeary reports for POLITICO.
The U.S. and its allies need to help Ukraine build a comprehensive missile defense system to defend against Russian aerial attacks, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said yesterday. His comments came after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group hosted by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Brussels. “What needs to be done here by all the various countries that were at the conference today is chip in and help them rebuild and sustain an integrated air and missile defense system,” Milley said at a press conference after the meeting, which was attended by defense chiefs and ministers from 50 countries. Ellie Kaufman and Oren Liebermann report for CNN.
Ukraine has received additional emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.), according to Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal. “Ukraine received $1.3 billion of additional emergency financing support from the International Monetary Fund. The funds will be used to finance priority needs: Strengthening defense capabilities, paying pensions, social programs and supporting the economy,” Shmyhal said. “In total, the I.M.F. has provided our country with $2.7 billion since the beginning of the full-scale war,” he added. Olga Voitovych reports for CNN.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his calls for an end to the war in Ukraine while speaking at a conference in Kazakhstan. “Each of us is feeling the regional and global impact of the crisis in Ukraine … Despite these difficulties on the ground, our priority is to end the bloodshed as soon as possible,” Erdoğan said. Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet later today for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia summit in the Kazakh capital Astana, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS. Alex Stambaugh and Josh Pennington report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow is “making every effort to provide critical products” to countries impacted by recent volatility in prices. “Other regional associations have to deal with many acute problems, including the increased volatility in world prices for energy resources, food, fertilizers, raw materials and other important goods,” Putin said while delivering remarks at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia summit in the Kazakh capital Astana. “Russia, for its part, is making every effort to provide critical products to countries in need. We call for the elimination of all artificial, illegitimate barriers to the restoration of the normal functioning of global supply chains in order to address urgent food security challenges,” Putin said. Uliana Pavlova and Alex Stambaugh report for CNN.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is heading back to Kyiv after a trip to Russia to negotiate a security buffer zone at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Rafael Grossi met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital last week and with Putin in St. Petersburg this week, as the U.N. watchdog tries to broker an agreement to protect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. “I am coming back to Kyiv,” Grossi tweeted. “The work on the establishment of a nuclear safety & security protection zone around #Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant continues.” Ellen Francis reports for the Washington Post.
“Kamikaze” drones carried out attacks targeting infrastructure facilities in the Kyiv region, according to the head of the regional police. Three “kamikaze” drones hit the district of Bucha, the head of Kyiv region police Andrii Nebytov said. The police chief did not elaborate on what kind of infrastructure facilities were targeted in Bucha. Drones also struck targets in the Makariv community in the Kyiv region overnight, he said. There are no casualties, according to a preliminary assessment. Olga Voitovych reports for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Two banners criticizing Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his policies could be seen hung on an overpass in Beijing earlier today, in a rare protest ahead of the Communist Party national congress. “Say no to Covid test, yes to food. No to lockdown, yes to freedom. No to lies, yes to dignity. No to cultural revolution, yes to reform. No to great leader, yes to vote. Don’t be a slave, be a citizen,” read one banner. “Go on strike, remove dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping,” read the other. The banners have since been removed, and security personnel have been spotted patrolling the overpass. CNN reports.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned adversaries his nuclear forces are fully prepared for “actual war,” a day after the isolated country’s latest launch in a recent flurry of missile tests. “Our nuclear combat forces … proved again their full preparedness for actual war to bring the enemies under their control,” Kim said in a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (K.C.N.A.). Kim’s statement – his first about North Korea’s missile program for several months – came after he reportedly oversaw the test of long-range cruise missiles over waters west of the Korean Peninsula yesterday, according to K.C.N.A. Brad Lendon and Yoonjung Seo report for CNN.
President Biden still views China as the most consequential geopolitical challenge to the U.S. despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said yesterday. The twin threats of Russia and China are laid out in the Biden administration’s long-awaited national security strategy, a document that was delayed until yesterday after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. “The [People’s Republic of China] and Russia are increasingly aligned with each other but the challenges they pose are, in important ways, distinct,” the document says. “We will prioritize maintaining an enduring competitive edge over the PRC while constraining a still profoundly dangerous Russia.” Sullivan said the Ukraine war did not fundamentally change how Biden views the world. However, he underscored that the document’s release was delayed because officials believed it would be “imprudent” to publish it when it was “really unclear exactly what direction that war would take.” John Hudson and Karen DeYoung report for the Washington Post.
A Trump employee has told the FBI about moving boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago at the direction of the former president, according to people familiar with the investigation. The instructions to move boxes to his residence at Mar-a-Lago came after Trump’s legal team received a subpoena in May for any classified documents that remained at the estate. The description of events is corroborated by security-camera footage which shows people moving boxes, the people familiar with the investigation said. The witness description and footage offer the most direct account to date of Trump’s actions and instructions leading up to the FBI’s search in August and could be key to the federal criminal investigation that’s looking into a range of potential crimes, including obstruction, destruction of government records and mishandling of classified information. Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
The likely final public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 will take place today at 1 p.m. EST. During the hearing, the committee is expected to highlight newly obtained Secret Service records showing how President Trump was repeatedly alerted to brewing violence on Jan. 6, 2021, and still sought to stoke the conflict. In particular, the committee plans to share new video footage and internal Secret Service emails that appear to corroborate parts of the most startling accounts of that day, including the account given by Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified in June that Trump was briefed that some of his supporters were armed for battle, demanded they be allowed into his rally and insisted he wanted to lead them on their march to the Capitol. Carol D. Leonnig and Jacqueline Alemany report for the Washington Post.
A member of the Oath Keepers who took an AR-15-to a Virginia hotel on the eve of the Jan. 6 attack testified yesterday about entering a room filled with a large stash of weapons. His testimony was part of the trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four others, who stand accused of seditious conspiracy. The Oath Keepers member, Terry Cummings, testified that “a lot of firearms cases” were in the hotel room when he dropped off his weapon at a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Virginia, on Jan. 5, 2021. Cummings, a veteran of the Air National Guard who testified under a subpoena, said that he did not hear any talk about storming the Capitol and that he believed he would use his weapon only as a defense measure. He said he was aware of the strict gun laws in Washington and saw no Oath Keepers carrying guns in the city the day of the riot. Ryan J. Reilly and Daniel Barnes report for NBC News.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Biden administration announced yesterday that it would accept up to 24,000 Venezuelans via a humanitarian parole plan. The parole plan would grant Venezuelans a narrow legal pathway to the United States, and the administration hopes those eligible will apply for it remotely and fly to the U.S. rather than making the dangerous trek to the southwest border. The Department of Homeland Security also said it would expand its use of a public health rule to start expelling to Mexico Venezuelans who illegally cross the U.S. border. Venezuelans who apply for the humanitarian parole program must have someone in the United States who can show that they are able to financially support the migrant for up to two years. During the application process, the government will assess the sponsor’s finances and vet the applicants, who will also have to have certain vaccinations and comply with other public health requirements. Venezuelans who are granted humanitarian parole will be temporarily allowed to work legally in the United States. Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs report for the New York Times.
A Connecticut jury has ordered Infowars founder Alex Jones to pay $965 million in damages to the families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. The verdict marks the largest award to date in a multipronged legal battle by the families to hold Jones responsible for circulating falsehoods about the 2012 mass shooting. The families testified during the trial that the lies spread by Jones led to harassment and threats by conspiracy theorists who have accused them of faking their own children’s deaths. The size of the damages awarded is a sign that the jurors found Jones’s conduct particularly reprehensible and harmful. Immediately after the verdict was announced, Jones told his audience he would appeal the decision. Joanna Slater reports for the Washington Post.
COVID-19 has infected over 96.836 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 623.323 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.