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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 – ATTACKS ON CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
The Ukrainian military said it used anti-aircraft missile units and mobile fire groups to destroy Russian cruise missiles during a string of attacks on energy infrastructure across the country on Saturday. “18 enemy cruise missiles were destroyed by aviation, anti-aircraft missile units and mobile fire groups,” a post from the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said. “In addition, the Russians attacked from ships in the Black Sea with Kalibr cruise missiles. A total of 16 starts,” it continued. Several rockets flying towards Kyiv on Saturday were shot down by air defense forces in the region, the city’s Mayor Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said in a separate statement. The series of attacks across Ukraine on Saturday left residents in parts of Odesa, Cherkasy, Kropyvnitsky, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi and Lutsk without electricity, according to officials in each region. Pierre Meilhan and Richard Roth report for CNN.
90% of Ukraine’s wind energy infrastructure and between 40% – 50% of its solar energy infrastructure have been destroyed in the war, according to Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Emine Dzheppar. “Russia keeps terrorizing Ukrainians and it’s course [sic] to create energy crisis in our country,” Dzheppar said on Twitter, calling on allied countries to help protect Ukrainian skies. Jorge Engels, Dennis Lapin, Niamh Kennedy and Josh Pennington report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Russia’s defense minister accused Ukraine of planning to use a so-called dirty bomb – a claim that U.S. officials strongly refuted as a Russian false flag operation. The allegation from Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu came during a phone call with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin yesterday. “We reject reports of Minister Shoigu’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. “The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.” Similar calls were also made to French and British officials, who also strongly refuted the Kremlin’s accusation. Barbara Starr and Natasha Bertrand report for CNN.
Ukraine’s efforts to repel Russian attacks with Iranian-made drones are becoming “increasingly successful,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence update. According to official sources, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, up to 85% of attacks are being intercepted, the update says. Russia is likely expending a high number of Iranian Shahid-136 UAVs in order to penetrate increasingly effective Ukrainian air defenses, and is likely using them as a substitute for Russian-manufactured long-range precision weapons, the update adds. Lindsay Isaac and Radina Gigova report for CNN.
Ukrainians will be the ones to “choose the moment and the terms” of peace in the war with Russia, French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday. His remarks at a peace conference in Rome come as Moscow’s war pushes energy prices higher in Europe ahead of winter, threatening to erode support on the continent for Ukraine’s defense. Macron has been a vocal proponent of maintaining open dialogue with Moscow, citing it as a means for potential peace negotiations – something that has previously drawn criticism from Ukraine. Bryan Pietsch reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The Russian-installed authority in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson has told civilians to “immediately leave the city” and relocate to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. “Due to the tense situation at the front, the increased danger of massive shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians must immediately leave the city,” a message to residents posted on Telegram reads. “Take care of the safety of your family and friends! Do not forget documents, money, valuables and clothes,” it adds. Stephanie Halasz reports for CNN.
Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry has again blamed Russia for deliberately slowing grain exports to stymie the U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative. Ukraine’s three open ports are operating at less than a third of their normal capacity because of Russian interference, the ministry said on Sunday in a statement on Facebook. On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of slowing down grain exports to create a food crisis. In his nightly address to the nation, Zelensky said there was a backlog of 150 ships waiting to fulfill contracts to transport Ukrainian wheat, corn, sunflower oil and other products. “This is an artificial queue,” he said. “It arose only because Russia is deliberately delaying the passage of ships.” Carly Olson and James C. McKinley Jr. report for the New York Times.
Rishi Sunak looks likely to become the U.K.’s next Prime Minister after former prime minister Boris Johnson announced that he was dropping his bid to return to power. Contenders to lead the ruling Conservative Party and the country face a deadline of 2 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST) to secure the endorsements of at least 100 of their party colleagues in Parliament (out of 357). Sunak already has the backing of half the party, comfortably clearing the bar. The other declared candidate is House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, but with few of Johnson’s backers switching her way it is unclear whether she will meet the threshold. If only Sunak meets the threshold, he will become the party’s leader and will be installed as Prime Minister. William Booth, Karla Adam, Jennifer Hassan and Leo Sands report for the Washington Post.
Giorgia Meloni, Leader of Italy’s far-right Fratelli d’Italia party, was sworn in as Italy’s first female prime minister on Saturday. The ceremony took place at Italy’s presidential palace. Her cabinet is expected to be approved in a parliamentary confidence vote early next week. Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, congratulated Meloni and said she counts on and looks forward to “constructive cooperation with the new government on the challenges we face together.” Marine Le Pen, a fellow member of the European far right, who has made several attempts at the French presidency, wished Meloni success. “Everywhere in Europe, patriots are coming to power,” Le Pen said. Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli report for the Washington Post.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has formally stepped into his norm-breaking third term ruling China, as he revealed a new leadership team stacked with loyal allies. On Sunday, a day after the close of the five-yearly Communist Party Congress, Xi announced six men – Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi – to stand alongside him as members of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top ruling body. The lineup made clear that Xi had not only broken with recent precedent to take a third term as leader, but had also concentrated power at the very top to an extent unseen in decades. Simone McCarthy, Nectar Gan, Steven Jiang, Yong Xiong and Wayne Chang report for CNN.
North and South Korea exchanged warning shots along their disputed western sea boundary on Monday, amid heightened animosities over the North’s recent barrage of weapons tests. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that its navy broadcast warnings and fired warning shots to repel a North Korean merchant ship that it says violated the sea boundary early Monday. North Korea’s military said its coastal defense units responded by firing 10 rounds of artillery warning shots toward its territorial waters, where “naval enemy movement was detected.” AP reports.
Pakistan’s election commission on Friday disqualified former Prime Minister Imran Khan from completing his current term in Parliament. The commission found him guilty of illegally selling gifts given to him by other countries when he was prime minister and concealing the profits from the authorities, according to Azam Nazeer Tarar, the country’s justice minister. Khan, who would otherwise hold a seat in Parliament until next August, denies the accusations. Following the decision, protests broke out in several cities, as supporters of Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, took to the streets. Christina Goldbaum and Salman Masood report for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N.’s Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) has suspended its tour of Australian prisons, citing a lack of cooperation from officials who denied them access to some detention facilities. In a statement, the SPT said its staff were prevented from entering some places where people were being held, and in some cases were not given “all the relevant information and documentation” they requested. The trip was supposed to ensure Australia’s compliance with the U.N.’s Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), of which it is a signatory. “Given that OPCAT applies to all federal states without limitations or exceptions, it is concerning that four years after it ratified the Optional Protocol, Australia appears to have done little to ensure consistent implementation of OPCAT obligations across the country,” said the head of the four-person delegation, Aisha Shujune Muhammad. Angus Watson and Hilary Whiteman report for CNN.
At least 50 were killed last week after security forces in the Central African country of Chad opened fire on protestors. The killings happened during protests that came in response to a decision by the junta to tear up its promises of a transition to democracy and extend its stay in power by at least two years. The violent suppression of protests in the capital, Ndjamena, comes amid a trend toward military rule in the region. Chadian Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo said protesters were carrying guns and described them as rebels – a claim that the opposition denies. Ruth Maclean and Mahamat Adamou report for the New York Times.
A Brazilian politician is in custody after throwing grenades at police officers who came to his house in Rio de Janeiro state to arrest him. Roberto Jefferson, an ally of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, wounded two officers before surrendering yesterday. A Supreme Court judge earlier ordered his detention for insulting Chief Justice Cármen Lucía. He was already under house arrest for threatening her. Bolsonaro reacted by saying those who fired at police should be arrested. BBC News reports.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack issued a subpoena Friday to former President Trump demanding documents and testimony. The subpoena demands that Trump produce phone records, text messages and other documents by Nov. 4 and appear on Nov. 14 for deposition testimony under oath in Washington or by videoconference. A lawyer who represents Trump said the subpoena will be reviewed, while criticizing the committee for its public release. “As with any similar matter, we will review and analyze it, and will respond as appropriate to this unprecedented action,” said David Warrington. Scott Patterson reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Jan. 6 committee has not ruled out the possibility of taking live televised testimony from Trump, the office of vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said yesterday. During an interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Cheney also said that the committee would not allow Trump to turn his giving of testimony “into a circus.” “The committee treats this matter with great seriousness,” she said. “We are going to proceed in terms of the questioning of the former president under oath. It may take multiple days. And it will be done with a level of rigor and discipline and seriousness that it deserves.” Summer Concepcion reports for NBC News.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked the Supreme Court on Friday to stay a lower court’s order that would force him to testify before a special grand jury investigating efforts to overturn Trump’s election loss in Georgia. Graham’s lawyers filed the application following a Thursday decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which held that the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, which says that members of Congress cannot be questioned on matters pertaining to their legislative duties, did not fully shield Graham from having to testify. The filing notes that Graham was issued with a fresh subpoena on Friday compelling him to testify on Nov. 17. Richard Fausset reports for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Jury selection begins today in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud and grand larceny trial in New York. The two Trump Organization entities are charged with nine counts of tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records in what prosecutors allege was a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation provided to employees. If convicted, the Trump Organization would face maximum fines of $1.6 million – the most allowed under New York state law for the charged conduct. The company would not be dissolved or face any other consequences. The Trump Organization has pleaded not guilty and has said the prosecution is politically motivated. Whilst former President Trump is not a defendant in the case and is not expected to be implicated in any wrongdoing, the charges against his real estate business are the closest any prosecutor has gotten to Trump, and the political ramifications of the case have irritated the former President, people familiar with the matter say. Kara Scannell reports for CNN.
A military judge has canceled pretrial hearings in the Sept. 11 case at Guantánamo Bay while prosecutors await a response from the Biden administration on a proposed plea deal. The judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall, postponed the next hearings until at least Jan. 16 while “policymakers” decide whether to agree to conditions from the defendants concerning their post-conviction confinement. The judge did not describe the issues that are being discussed. But people with knowledge of the negotiations have said the defense is seeking a pledge from the government that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of masterminding the attacks, and the others will not be held in solitary confinement. The hearings had already been on hold since March when prosecutors invited defense lawyers to negotiate a plea settlement for the defendants. Carol Rosenberg reports for the New York Times.
The two former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death are heading to trial today on state aiding and abetting counts. This is the third and likely final criminal proceeding in the case. J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have already been convicted of federal counts for violating Floyd’s civil rights and have begun serving those sentences. AP reports.
COVID-19 has infected over 97.198 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 627.631 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.58 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.