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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.
Today’s discussions at COP27 are likely to focus on how companies can be held accountable for climate misinformation. The U.N. is expected to publish new recommendations on ways to guard against corporate greenwashing – the false or misleading claims that some companies make about their products, brands or policies to appear environmentally conscious. Jenny Gross reports for the New York Times.
During the opening session of world leaders at COP27, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called for a new “climate solidarity pact” in which rich countries help poorer nations financially. The international financial system should be reformed to support lower-income countries that were burdened by debt and needed money to recover from natural disasters, he said. “The two largest economies – the United States and China – have a particular responsibility to join efforts to make this pact a reality,” he added. Camilla Hodgson reports for the Financial Times.
Leaders of the developing world yesterday demanded that wealthy nations spend more to help vulnerable populations adjust to global warming. “Those who pollute the most should pay the most in order to get our planet off this track of climate crisis,” Senegalese President Macky Sall told leaders, speaking on behalf of African nations in his capacity as chair of the African Union. This is the first year policymakers have agreed to start talking about the developing world’s demand for more help with the harm they are already suffering. However, significant breakthroughs concerning “loss and damage” are unlikely, as many leaders from rich nations remain weary of opening themselves to compensating for all historic climate change. Michael Birnbaum, Allyson Chiu and Sarah Kaplan report for the Washington Post.
Austria will provide 50 million euros to developing countries facing unavoidable damage and losses caused by climate change, the country’s climate ministry has said. Just four other governments – Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Scotland – have committed small amounts of loss and damage funding, breaking ranks with other rich nations that have resisted such payments. Kate Abnett reports for Reuters.
Switzerland is promising to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 by paying poorer countries, like Ghana or Dominica, to reduce their emissions and taking credit for it. Veronika Elgart, the deputy head of international climate policy at the Federal Office for the Environment in Switzerland, said these sorts of arrangements could bring additional climate action while benefiting the host country. However, some have argued that if other nations follow Switzerland’s lead it could delay climate action in wealthier parts of the world while shifting the burden of reducing emissions to the global poor. Hiroko Tabuchi reports for the New York Times.
Attendees at COP27 have found that the conference’s internet connection blocks access to the global rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as a number of key news websites. Observers and conference attendees have expressed concerns that these blockages are part of the Egyptian authorities’ efforts to shield participants from the country’s poor human rights record. Ruth Michaelson reports for the Guardian.
Just Security has published a piece by Clara Apt and Katherine Fang titled “Tracking COP27: Notable Moments and Key Themes.”
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan has engaged in recent months in confidential conversations with top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. and allied officials have said. The purpose of these conversations has been to reduce the risk of escalation and to warn Moscow against using nuclear weapons, and not to discuss a settlement of the war in Ukraine, the officials said. Vivian Salama and Michael R. Gordon report for the Wall Street Journal.
North Korea has denied U.S. claims that it’s shipping artillery shells and ammunition to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine. Responding to U.S. accusations that North Korea was covertly supplying a significant number of ammunition shipments to Russia, an unidentified vice director at the North Korean ministry’s military foreign affairs office said, “we regard such moves of the U.S. as part of its hostile attempt to tarnish the image of (North Korea) in the international arena.” “We once again make clear that we have never had ‘arms dealings’ with Russia and that we have no plan to do so in the future,” the vice director added. Hyunh-Jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung report for AP.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Russian forces have begun detaining locals in occupied areas of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region to root out partisan resistance, according to the Ukrainian military. “Amid the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the occupiers have significantly intensified filtration measures,” the National Resistance Center, a creation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on Monday. “Raids among the local population have intensified in the temporarily occupied part of Kherson region. The occupiers are actively looking for the underground movement.” Olga Voitovych and Mick Krever report for CNN.
Kyiv had transferred five strategic enterprises to state control from previous oligarch ownership, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said yesterday. “Such steps, which are necessary for our country in condition of war . . . will help to provide the urgent needs of our defense sector,” Zelenskyy said in a Telegram channel statement. “In these difficult times, we must direct all our forces to liberate our land and people and support the Ukrainian army.” The state seizures have been described as temporary with officials insisting that the takeover of these enterprises did not amount to “nationalizations.” Roman Olearchyk reports for the Financial Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Two British-Iranian journalists working in the U.K. have been warned by police of a “credible” plot by Iran to kill them. This is according to a statement by their employer the London-based news channel Iran International. The Farsi-language broadcaster has become one of the go-to sources for many Iranians looking for news on the protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini – a 22-year-old woman detained by morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code. Sahar Akbarzai and Lauren Kent report for CNN.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced yesterday that the country would ban the sale of spyware. The announcement comes after Mitsotakis’s government was accused of targeting prominent politicians, journalists, and business people for surveillance. A judicial investigation into the allegations is ongoing. Niki Kitsantonis and Matina Stevis-Gridneff report for the New York Times.
In a bid for transparency, Kenya’s government has disclosed details of the loan agreement the country signed in 2014 with China to build a railway. Kenyan President William Ruto’s administration published three documents from a contract used to construct a passenger and freight railway that was funded, designed, and built by China. The contracts show that the loan’s terms were costlier than expected, said Tony Watima, a Nairobi-based economist, with all the risks taken by the Kenyan taxpayer. Chinese loan contracts are often shrouded in secrecy, and the revelation could strain relations with Beijing, the country’s top financier of infrastructure projects. Abdi Latif Dahir reports for the New York Times.
The Australian man who in March 2019 killed 51 worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand has appealed his conviction and sentencing, the country’s court of appeals confirmed yesterday. Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole in August 2020. The news has sparked accusations that he is trying to inflict more emotional damage on the Muslim community. A clerk at the court said the appeal would receive an oral hearing, but that the date for the hearing had not yet been set. Bryan Peitsch reports for the Washington Post.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused China of attempting to interfere in the country’s elections. The accusation follows local media reports that Beijing had directed funds to candidates in the 2019 federal elections and that Chinese operatives had acted as campaign advisers to many candidates. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson denied the allegation, saying it has “no interest” in Canada’s internal affairs. BBC News reports.
Kremlin-linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted yesterday that he had interfered in U.S. elections and would continue to do so. “Gentlemen, we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do,” Prigozhin said in remarks posted on social media. This was the first time Prigozhin confirmed these accusations which have been leveled at him for years. Yesterday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Prigozhin’s comments “do not tell us anything new or surprising.” AP reports.
An American aid worker was shot dead yesterday while driving a car in Baghdad, Iraqi officials said. Attacks on foreign nationals in the Iraqi capital are rare, and the motive behind the attack is unknown. Jane Arraf reports for the New York Times.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – MIDTERM ELECTIONS
The Justice Department announced that it will dispatch workers to 64 jurisdictions in 24 states on Election Day, to make sure that they are in compliance with federal voting law. This is an increase from the 44 jurisdictions to which it sent monitors for the 2020 presidential election. The list of jurisdictions where the Justice Department will dispatch monitors provides a window into where federal law enforcement officials suspect there could be disputes or tensions around the voting process. Perry Stein, Emma Brown and Beth Reinhard report for the Washington Post.
At least 14 states have activated their National Guard units to ward off cyber attacks on the midterm elections. States that lack their own Guard units for such things can request help from states that do. However, National Guard leaders have said few states have sufficient cyber capability, and that more capacity in this area is needed. Defense One reports.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – JAN. 6 ATTACK
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes testified at his seditious conspiracy trial yesterday. During his testimony, he categorically denied any plan to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He also said that his call for his co-defendants to come to Washington armed and ready to “take matters into their own hands” if President Trump failed to act was meant to inspire action only after he left office. Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman report for the Washington Post.
COVID-19 has infected over 97.741 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 632.675 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.60 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.