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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
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in four illegally annexed regions of Ukraine yesterday. This will allow the authorities in these regions to impose curfews, seize property, forcibly resettle residents, imprison undocumented immigrants, establish checkpoints, and detain people for up to 30 days. In imposing these new restrictions, Putin spoke of the regions as if they were indisputably Russian territory, despite only having tenuous control. “I signed a decree on the introduction of martial law in these four constituent entities of the Russian Federation,” Putin said in a meeting of his Security Council. Putin also imposed restrictions in more than two dozen areas across Russia. Andrew E. Kramer and Neil MacFarquhar report for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – STRIKES ON CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Ukrainians are set to experience rolling blackouts starting Thursday after Russia’s military continued attacks on the country’s energy facilities this week, officials said. Ukraine’s electricity grid operator told residents to charge their phones, flashlights and other key appliances, adding: “The weather is getting worse.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will join a European Council summit to address Kyiv’s energy challenges later in the day, pledged to do “everything possible to restore the normal energy capabilities of our country.” Victoria Bisset and Erin Cunningham report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – IRANIAN DRONES
E.U. members have agreed on new sanctions against Iran over supplying drones that have been used to attack Ukraine, the Czech presidency of the E.U. has said. “E.U. ambassadors agreed on measures against entities supplying Iranian drones that hit Ukraine,” the presidency said on Twitter, adding that the sanctions will come into force this afternoon. “E.U. states decided to freeze the assets of three individuals and one entity responsible for drone deliveries,” it said. The E.U. is “also prepared to extend sanctions to four more Iranian entities that already featured in a previous sanctions list,” it concluded. Sharon Braithwaite reports for CNN.
The U.S. has “abundant evidence” that Russia is using Iranian drones to strike Ukraine, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said yesterday.“The United States began warning in July that Iran was planning to transfer UAVs to Russia for use in Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, and we now have abundant evidence that these UAVs are being used to strike Ukrainian civilians and critical civilian infrastructure,” Price said in a statement. The U.N.’s Security Council received expert briefings on Iran’s transfer of such drones to Russia, Price said, and the issue was collectively raised by the U.S., U.K. and France at a closed-door Security Council meeting yesterday. Kylie Atwood and Paul LeBlanc report for CNN.
The U.S. government has examined the wreckage of Iranian-made drones shot down in Ukraine, two U.S. officials have said. Information about the drones’ structure and technology could prove crucial in helping the U.S. and its Ukrainian allies better identify and ultimately defeat them before they can reach their targets. Officials said the process has been used in the past to study weaponry deployed by Iran’s proxies in conflicts in the Middle East. Shane Harris, Dan Lamothe, Alex Horton and Karen DeYoung report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Israel has repeated its long-standing refusal to sell air defense weapons to Ukraine despite a fresh appeal from Kyiv after this week’s “kamikaze” drone strikes. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said yesterday that Israel “will not provide weapon systems,” but said that Jerusalem will continue to side with Western support for Kyiv. Israel’s reluctance to be drawn into weapons sales to Ukraine stems from the impact it believes the decision could have in the Middle East. Russia has controled much of the airspace over Israel’s northern neighbor Syria since it entered the civil war in 2015 to prop up President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. “The Russians are sitting on our borders, in the Golan mountains, in Syria and along the Mediterranean shores, the navies are close all the time. Israel [can’t] be in an open conflict with the Russians,” Israeli military analyst Alex Fishman told the BBC. Israel has, however, sent humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, publicly condemned Russia’s invasion, and is reportedly sharing intelligence with Kyiv. Tom Bateman reports for BBC News.
The U.S. Justice Department charged five Russian nationals yesterday in an alleged sanctions evasion scheme. Yury Orekhov and Svetlana Kuzurgasheva have been accused of purchasing “sensitive” military and dual-use technologies from the U.S. and shipping them to Russian companies, including some that service the country’s defense sector, the Justice Department said in a statement. Russian nationals Timofey Telegin and Sergey Tulyakov, who control sanctioned Russian companies that received some of the shipments, also face several charges, including money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States. The Justice Department also accused Orekhov and the son of a Russian governor, Artem Uss, who also faces charges, of smuggling hundreds of millions of barrels of oil from Venezuela through a front company that the pair co-owned in Germany. The oil was allegedly sent to clients in China and Russia. Kelly Kasulis Cho reports for the Washington Post.
The U.S. military made an unusual disclosure yesterday, revealing the presence of one of its submerged nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Central Command released photos showing CENTCOM Commander General Michael Kurilla onboard the submarine. It is extremely rare for the U.S. military to acknowledge where their ballistic missile submarines are operating, particularly when they are stationed near an adversary’s shores. Kurilla’s visit may be seen as sending a message to U.S. adversaries in the region, including Iran, of Washington’s capabilities, including submarines that can carry up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with multiple warheads. Courtney Kube and Chantal Da Silva report for NBC News.
MAR -A- LAGO DOCUMENTS
Justice Department prosecutors involved in the investigation into the mishandling of classified records believe there is sufficient evidence to charge former President Trump with obstruction of justice. However, a formal recommendation has not yet been made to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who would ultimately approve or reject such a move, according to people familiar with the matter. It’s also unlikely officials would bring only obstruction charges amid several other Trump investigations into potential crimes, the people said. The Justice Department has publicly indicated that obstruction is part of its probe into the mishandling of classified records, noting there was probable cause for the charge in the Aug. 5 FBI search warrant application for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Chris Strohm reports for Bloomberg News.
Trump’s legal team is weighing whether to allow federal agents to return to the former President’s Mar-a-Lago residence and potentially conduct a supervised search, sources familiar with the matter have said. The aim of this would be to satisfy the Justice Department’s demands that all sensitive government documents are returned. The department has previously made clear that it believes Trump failed to comply with a May subpoena ordering the return of all documents marked as classified and that more government records remain missing. The possibility of allowing federal officials to return to Trump’s property – likely with Trump’s own lawyers present – is just one option on the table as the Trump team grapples with how best to protect the former President from legal jeopardy. No firm decisions have been made while sources familiar with the situation say Trump’s legal team is continuing to weigh how accommodating or adversarial they should be toward the Justice Department. Sara Murray, Kristen Holmes, and Gabby Orr report for CNN.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
Former President Trump signed a document swearing under oath that information in a Georgia lawsuit he filed challenging the results of the 2020 election was true even though his own lawyers had told him it was false. This determination came in a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter ordering John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who strategized with the former president about overturning the election, to hand over 33 more emails to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Judge Carter determined that the emails contained possible evidence of criminal behavior. “The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” Judge Carter wrote. Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times.
A federal grand jury has indicted a Pennsylvania man for threatening to kill Jan. 6 Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) in a letter sent to his Capitol office last week. Maverick Vargo, 25, threatened President Biden, Thompson, Thompson’s family, and U.S. District Court Judge Robert Mariani in the letter, also sending what appeared to be a white powder and alluding to anthrax, prosecutors said. Vargo is charged with threatening the president, sending interstate communications with a threat and influencing a federal official by threat, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said in a statement. John Kruzel reports for The Hill.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Capitol Police arrested a man and detained two other people yesterday after discovering guns inside their vehicle on the Capitol grounds. The driver, Tony H. Payne, was charged with possessing an unregistered firearm, having unregistered ammunition and carrying a pistol without a license, the Capitol Police said in a statement. Another man and a woman were detained whilst the vehicle was being searched. “Officers found two handguns and a shotgun inside the van.” The police added that the three people said that “they were here to deliver documents to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Chris Cameron reports for the New York Times.
A coalition of judicial advocacy and watchdog groups are calling on Congress to establish greater disclosure requirements for the spouses of federal judges. In a letter sent to lawmakers this week, the four organizations — Fix the Court, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Free Law Project and the Project On Government Oversight — argued that language should be inserted into existing ethics law that would apply to federal judges whose spouses render “legal services; strategic or legal advice related to litigation, lobbying, or business activities; lobbying or public relations services; or testimony as an expert witness.” If the value of the service or bonus for that service is greater than $5,000, they must disclose the payer and compensation, states the draft language for legislation. Currently, the justices merely disclose their spouses’ jobs, not the identity of their clients or the level of compensation. The letter references a previous report by POLITICO which illustrated how the work of several judicial spouses might intermingle with the cases and petitions considered by the Supreme Court. Haily Fuchs reports for POLITICO.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N. is expected to vote this week on sanctions against a powerful gang leader in Haiti who has blocked supplies of food, fuel and drinking water in the Caribbean country. The sanctions resolution, drafted by the U.S. and Mexico, would target gang leader Jimmy Cherizier—known as Barbecue—and others, and would aim to clamp down on illicit arms sales to Haiti. A revised draft of the sanctions resolution debated yesterday by Security Council members dropped language from an earlier draft encouraging the deployment of a multinational force to help the Haitian police restore order in the nation. The draft said that Haiti’s situation “continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,” leaving open the possibility of the U.N. eventually sending a security force to the country. On Monday the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, called for a non-U.N. mission led by a yet-to-be-named country. José de Córdoba and Ingrid Arnesen report for the Wall Street Journal.
Just Security has published a piece by Vélina Élysée Charlier, Alexandra Filippova and Tom Ricker titled “Six Ways the US and the International Community Can Help Haiti Without Armed Intervention.”
The treatment of a Hong Kong protester in the U.K. who was seen being dragged into the Chinese consulate in Manchester and beaten has raised concerns about the quashing of dissent outside Chinese borders. Iain Duncan Smith, a member of the British Parliament, said at a news conference yesterday that Zheng Xiyuan, the consul general in Manchester, was probably involved and that other diplomats were “certainly” involved, calling the episode “an abomination here in the United Kingdom.” Duncan Smith called for any Chinese diplomat involved in the assault to be sent home. The U.K.’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also called the episode “absolutely unacceptable.” Bryan Pietsch and Vic Chiang report for the Washington Post.
U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned yesterday, expressing “concerns about the direction of this government.” In her resignation letter, Braverman emphasized that she was “choosing” to go — suggesting she was not sacked as finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng was last week. As rationale, she said she had mistakenly violated the rules by sending an official document to a lawmaker from her personal email. However, the rest of her resignation letter constituted a stark criticism of Truss’s government. William Booth and Karla Adam report for the Washington Post.
COVID-19 has infected over 96.990 million people and has now killed over 1.07 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 625.340 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.57 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.