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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 – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to speed up the global transition toward clean energy, according to the world’s leading energy agency. While some countries have been burning more fossil fuels such as coal this year in response to natural gas shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, that effect is expected to be short-lived, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook. Instead, for the first time, the agency now predicts that worldwide demand for every type of fossil fuel will peak in the near future. One reason for this is that many countries have responded to soaring fossil fuel prices by embracing wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants, hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, and electric heat pumps. However, the shift toward cleaner sources of energy still isn’t happening fast enough to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, the agency said, not unless governments take much more decisive action to reduce their planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions over the next few years. Brad Plumer reports for the New York Times.
The chief U.N. lawyer yesterday pushed back on a Russian argument that the U.N. Secretary-General cannot report to the Security Council on Western accusations that Moscow used Iran-made drones in Ukraine. Russia has argued that there is no mandate for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to send experts to Ukraine to inspect downed drones and report on whether they violate a 2015 council resolution that enshrines the Iran nuclear deal. Guterres reports twice a year to the council on the implementation of the 2015 resolution. Preparation for those reports has long involved experts traveling to inspect evidence. “Absent further guidance by the Security Council, the Secretary-General will continue to prepare these reports in the manner that they have been prepared to date,” U.N. legal affairs chief Miguel de Serpa Soares told the Security Council. Michelle Nichols reports for Reuters.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The White House has said that it sees no current prospects for negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. “Neither side is in a position to sit down and negotiate,” John F. Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, told reporters yesterday. “Putin is clearly continuing to prosecute this war in a brutal, violent way,” he said, while the Ukrainians given their momentum “are not in a position where they want to negotiate.” These comments come as President Biden faces new challenges keeping together the bipartisan, multinational coalition supporting the effort to drive Russia out of Ukraine. The domestic and international consensus that Biden has struggled to build has shown signs of fraying in recent days with the approach of midterm elections and a cold European winter. Peter Baker and Steven Erlanger report for the New York Times.
The Biden administration yesterday imposed sanctions on more than 20 Moldovan and Russian individuals and entities for assisting Russian efforts to manipulate Moldova’s political system. Moldova, like its neighbor Ukraine, wants closer relations with the West but has long battled Russian political interference and intimidation, with Moldovan leaders worrying that should Russia prevail in Ukraine, their country may be Moscow’s next target. In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the new sanctions “reaffirm the U.S. commitment to tackling corruption as a first order national security threat and to promoting accountability for systemic efforts to undermine Moldova’s democratic institutions and elections.” Michael Crowley reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian officials have asked the U.S. for cold-war-era cluster munitions. The so-called dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, or DPICMs, are currently banned from export. However, Ukrainian officials have claimed that these artillery-launched weapons, which are designed to burst into scores of smaller submunitions to destroy mobile targets, are needed to reduce wear and tear on NATO-grade artillery. Jack Detsch reports for Foreign Policy.
The director of the CIA William Burns traveled to Ukraine this month to meet with Ukrainian intelligence officials and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a U.S. official has said. Burns was in Kyiv to discuss the U.S.’ continued intelligence cooperation with Ukraine, and to reinforce Washington’s support in the war against Russia, the official said. Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
A senior Russian foreign ministry official has said that commercial satellites from the U.S. and its allies could become legitimate targets for Russia if they were involved in the war in Ukraine. Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy director of the Russian foreign ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control, told the U.N. that the U.S. and its allies were trying to use space to enforce Western dominance. Vorontsov, reading from notes, said the use of Western satellites to aid the Ukrainian war effort was “an extremely dangerous trend.” “Quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” Vorontsov said, adding that the West’s use of such satellites to support Ukraine was “provocative.” Reuters reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will deliver his annual speech at the Valdai Discussion Club today. The Valdai plenary session has traditionally served as one of the most extensive windows into the Russian president’s view on foreign affairs and geopolitics, and will give international observers an opportunity to gauge the Russian leader’s appetite for escalating the war in Ukraine. Putin’s speech comes one day after he became the most senior Russian official to make unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine was preparing to use a so-called dirty bomb. Anatoly Kurmanaev reports for the New York Times.
Moscow’s propaganda about Ukraine has shifted in recent days, arguing that it is battling terrorism and falsely accusing Ukraine of planning a dirty bomb attack as part of that narrative. The push is meant to shore up Russian support for the war but also to denigrate Ukraine in the West, potentially softening support for more arms shipments to Kyiv, officials and researchers say. The counterterrorism narratives, according to U.S. officials, are also part of a wider propaganda web aimed at making Russians feel more involved in the war. Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.
At least 15 people were killed and 40 others were injured yesterday in an attack at the Shahcheragh Shrine in the city of Shiraz, southern Iran, according to state-run media and Iranian officials. Iranian security forces have arrested two of the suspected attackers, and a manhunt is underway to capture a third, state news said. The terror group the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, releasing a statement through its affiliated Amaq news agency that said one of its members had “targeted groups of Sunni refusal infidels inside the shrine with his machine gun, causing the death of tens of them.” The attack took place on the same day that clashes broke out throughout Iran as thousands of people came to the burial site of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year woman who died in police custody after being detained for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code. It’s unclear if the attack was related to the protests. Adam Pourahmadi and Hamdi Alkhshali report for CNN.
The U.S. is seeing signs Russia may be advising Iran on how to crack down on public demonstrations, White House officials said yesterday. “We are concerned that Moscow may be advising Tehran on best practices, drawing on Russia’s extensive experience of suppressing open demonstrations,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing. “The evidence that Iran is helping Russia rage its war against Ukraine is clear and it is public. And Iran and Russia are growing closer the more isolated they become. Our message to Iran is very, very clear – stop killing your people and stop sending weapons to Russia to help kill Ukrainians.” John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the National Security Council who spoke later in the briefing, said that he would not get into the sources of the information to back Jean-Pierre’s assertion about Russian advisement to Iran, but underscored that “she was putting forth a fact, that we know they may be considering some sort of support to Iran’s ability to crack down on the protesters.” Maegan Vazquez reports for CNN.
The Biden administration yesterday issued sanctions against more than a dozen Iranian officials and three entities in response to Tehran’s brutal crackdown on protests. The sanctions target individuals in provinces where some of the most harrowing atrocities have been documented. In a statement announcing the sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “The United States is committed to working to promote justice and accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Iran.” “We will continue to find ways to support the people of Iran as they peacefully protest in defense of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in doing so, will continue to impose costs on individuals and entities in Iran who engage in the brutal repression of the Iranian people,” he continued. Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The U.S. is seeking to recalibrate its relationship with Saudi Arabia in a way that “better reflects our own interests,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday. “We’re going to do it in a very deliberate fashion,” he said, calling the country’s recent decision to cut oil production “wrong” and inconsistent with a U.S. analysis of demand. Blinken also said that whilst there had been some positive steps taken by the Saudis, including support for Ukraine-related resolutions at the U.N. and a contribution of $400 million in humanitarian assistance, these did not compensate for the production cut. Daniel Flatley reports for Bloomberg News.
The U.S. military conducted an airstrike in Somalia over the weekend, killing two members of the al-Shabaab terrorist group, the Pentagon has said. In a statement, U.S. Africa Command said the strike occurred near Buulobarde, about 218 kilometers north-northwest of the capital Mogadishu. The U.S. operation is the latest in Somalia after a similar airstrike on Oct. 1, when American forces struck and killed top al-Shabaab leader Abdullahi Nadir. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
Just Security has published a piece by Sarah Harrison titled “What the White House Use of Force Policy Means for the War in Somalia.”
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
Attorneys for former President Trump have accepted service of a subpoena issued by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Jan. 6 committee wants Trump to provide relevant documents by Nov. 4 and appear for a deposition by Nov. 14, though neither deadline is likely to hold. Trump has not yet given any public indication about whether he will challenge the subpoena in court. Kyle Cheney and Erin Banco report for POLITICO.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has temporarily blocked enforcement of the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena seeking the phone records of Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward. Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, were among 14 of 84 so-called alternate electors subpoenaed this year by the Jan. 6 committee, which cited their association with bogus documents claiming Trump had won the 2020 election in their states. At the Supreme Court, Ward argued that the subpoena violates her right to freedom of association under the Constitution’s First Amendment. The move by Kagan, a liberal justice who handles emergency applications that originate in Arizona, means the Supreme Court as a whole will decide how to proceed. The Jan.6 committee has until Friday to respond to Ward’s request to quash the subpoena, which was filed yesterday. Lawrence Hurley reports for NBC News.
A South Carolina judge has ruled that Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must testify before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating possible interference in the 2020 presidential election. At a hearing yesterday morning, South Carolina Circuit Judge Edward Miller ruled that Meadows must comply with a petition seeking his testimony before the grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, the clerk of court for Pickens County, South Carolina, said. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has sought Meadows’ testimony, saying he was in communication with Trump, his campaign “and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere.” Charlie Gile and Summer Concepcion report for NBC News.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Justice Department has formally banned the use of subpoenas, warrants, or court orders to seize reporters’ records or demand their testimony in an effort to uncover confidential sources in leak investigations. The rule codifies and expands a policy that Attorney General Merrick Garland issued in 2021, after it came to light that the Trump administration had secretly gone after records of reporters for The Times, The Washington Post and CNN. “These regulations recognize the crucial role that a free and independent press plays in our democracy,” Garland said in a statement. “Because freedom of the press requires that members of the news media have the freedom to investigate and report the news, the new regulations are intended to provide enhanced protection to members of the news media from certain law enforcement tools and actions that might unreasonably impair news gathering.” Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 97.279 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 628.749 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.