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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 – WAR CRIMES ALLEGATIONS
There is “mounting evidence” of “systemic war crimes” by Russian troops in Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack said yesterday. “This includes deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure,” as well as abuses of civilians and prisoners of war and “efforts to cover up these crimes,” she told reporters. There have also been reports of executions, torture, and sexual violence, she added. Jennifer Hansler reports for CNN.
Ukraine has said it will investigate footage that Moscow alleges shows Ukrainian forces killing Russian troops who may have been trying to surrender. “Of course, Ukrainian authorities will investigate this video,” Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the E.U. said. However, “it is very unlikely” that the short, edited snippets show what Moscow claims, she added. AP reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – ZAPORIZHZHIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Shelling has caused “widespread damage” to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has said. While inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) “confirmed no immediate nuclear safety” concern, the damage “is a major cause of concern as it clearly demonstrates the sheer intensity of the attacks on one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants,” I.A.E.A. chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said. The Washington Post reports.
Russian forces fired almost 60 shells at Nikopol overnight into Tuesday. Nikopol, located across the river from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, has been under heavy Russian fire since Friday, according to Ukrainian officials. Olga Voitovych reports for CNN.
The Iranian national team declined to sing Iran’s national anthem before their first World Cup match, in an apparent expression of support for anti-government protests in the country. Iran state TV cut its coverage of the anthem and switched to a previously shown wide shot of the stadium. BBC News reports.
The U.N.’s children’s agency, U.N.I.C.E.F., has said it remains deeply concerned by reports of children being killed, injured, and detained in Iran. An “estimated 50 children have reportedly lost their lives in the public unrest in Iran,” U.N.I.C.E.F. said in the statement, adding that the reported deaths of children at anti-government protests “must stop.” Artemis Moshtaghian, Jomana Karadsheh and Hande Atay Alam report for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
More than 100 people were abducted when gunmen raided four villages in northwest Nigeria. Many of those abducted were women and children. According to a local government official the gunmen use abductees as human shields against military air attacks. Reuters reports.
The death toll from an earthquake that hit Indonesia’s western Java region has risen to 252, according to local authorities. 31 people are still missing, 337 are injured and the number of people displaced has reached 7,060. Reuters reports.
A South African court has ruled that a decision to allow former President Jacob Zuma to serve out a 15-month sentence at home on medical grounds was unlawful. Zuma was sentenced last year for failing to cooperate with a corruption inquiry. He spent two months in prison before being granted medical parole – a decision that was met with criticism from his political opponents and anti-corruption groups. The court’s ruling yesterday raises the possibility that he may have to return to prison. Lynsey Chutel reports for the New York Times.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Chinese counterpart for the first time in months. Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who met on the sidelines of a gathering of defense ministers in Cambodia, discussed bilateral ties and security matters, the Pentagon said. The meeting is the latest sign of thawing ties between the two countries, after a rupture following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August. Raffaele Huang reports for the Wall Street Journal.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The Justice Department has classified the suicide of Capitol Police officer Howard Liebengood as a line-of-duty death. Liebengood defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack and took his own life days later. The decision means that this wife is entitled to benefits and was the first such designation for an officer who died in connection with the attack since Congress passed a law that expanded eligibility to include those who suffered from trauma as a result of what they experienced while on duty. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
Jury deliberations begin today in the trial of 5 members of the Oath Keepers militia charged with seditious conspiracy. This is the first time in at least a decade that a jury has had to consider such charges. Those on trial include Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who repeatedly tried to get in touch with former President Trump to encourage him to invoke the Insurrection Act, even after the Jan. 6 attack. Ryan J. Reilly reports for NBC News.
Riley Williams, a Pennsylvania woman who barged into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6, 2021, has been found guilty of multiple offenses related to the attack on the Capitol. Williams was found guilty of six of the eight counts she was charged with, including assaulting or resisting an officer and disorderly conduct in the Capitol. A mistrial was declared on two of the remaining counts, including the charge of obstructing the certification of the electoral college. Holmes Lybrand reports for CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The federal appeals court will hear arguments about whether it should remove the requirement that a special master reviews the materials seized from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. An appeals court decision to get rid of the special master review would significantly speed up the Justice Department’s investigation into the documents. Tierney Sneed reports for CNN.
Lawmakers in Colorado are questioning why the state’s red-flag law wasn’t used to seize weapons from the alleged gunman in the deadly shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub. The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is currently being held on five counts of murder and five counts of hate crime, was arrested last year after holding his family hostage at gunpoint. Police said they are trying to figure out when he got the AR-15-style weapon used to carry out the nightclub attack, and whether he bought it legally. Dan Frosch, Zusha Elinson and Alicia A. Caldwell report for the Wall Street Journal.
One person has been killed and at least 19 injured after a car drove through an Apple store in Massachusetts. The identity of the driver has not been released, but he is currently in police custody. The investigation into the car crash is “active” and ongoing, District Attorney Tim Cruz said. Amir Vera, Michelle Watson, Paul LeBlanc report for CNN.
Alabama’s governor issued an order yesterday suspending all executions in the state and calling for a review of Alabama’s execution process. The move by Gov. Kay Ivey (R) follows a series of problems delivering lethal injection drugs this year and comes just days after prison officials said they were unable to insert intravenous lines into Kenneth Eugene Smith before his death warrant expired. Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reports for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 98.351 million people and has now killed over 1.08 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 638.601 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.62 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.