RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The Biden administration is considering a significant expansion in the training the U.S. military provides to Ukraine forces. Since the start of the conflict, the U.S. has only trained a few thousand Ukrainian soldiers on specific weapons systems. Under the new program, the U.S. would train as many as 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers a month in more sophisticated battlefield tactics. The training would take place at a U.S. base in Germany. Oren Liebermann, Katie Bo Lillis, Natasha Bertrand, and Kylie Atwood report for CNN.
The U.S. signed a new contract with Raytheon Missiles and Defense to send six air defense missile systems to Ukraine. Raytheon also announced plans to manufacture Patriot missiles in Europe for the first time, partnering with missile developer MBDA to produce weapons in Germany. Rachel Pannett and Erin Cunningham report for the Washington Post.
Americans continue to support the U.S. providing weapons and financial support to Ukraine, despite concerns that the war could lead to instability in Europe, according to a national defense survey. The survey, which was conducted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, also found that Americans have less trust in their military leadership, in part because they feel it has become too politicized. Nancy A. Youssef reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Biden administration is “deeply concerned” about Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Russia. Whelan was moved to a prison hospital on Nov. 17 and his family has not heard from him in a week. The U.S. government has been trying to get information on Whelan’s condition and his whereabouts but has not been successful, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. Michael Crowley reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N. launched an appeal to international donors, asking for a recording-breaking $51.5 billion. The disruption to food and fertilizer shipments caused by the war in Ukraine has combined with climate-related disasters and the threat of a global recession to produce what the U.N. warns is “the largest global food crisis in modern history.” About 339 million people, or one in every 23 people on the planet, will need assistance in 2023, the U.N. estimates. Nick Cumming-Bruce reports for the New York Times.
A letter bomb was delivered to the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid yesterday, causing mild injury to an employee who inspected it. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, ordered all the country’s embassies to strengthen security after the attack. The Spanish National Police are investigating the incident, but no suspects have been identified. José Bautista and Carly Olson report for the New York Times.
Russia’s expansion of its “foreign agents” law comes into force today. The original 2012 law required organizations engaging in political activity and receiving funding from abroad to register as foreign agents and adhere to draconian restrictions. Under the expansion, the law now also captures those who have “received support and (or) is under foreign influence.” Clare Sebastian reports for CNN.
The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization announced the death of its leader yesterday, just nine months after he took charge. A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command confirmed the leader had been killed in mid-October by anti-government rebels. ISIS also named a successor but provided no information about him other than a nom de guerre. Ben Hubbard reports for the New York Times.
At least four people have been killed in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. The explosion, which hit a truck carrying policemen on their way to be deployed as security for polio vaccinators, came just two days after the group announced the end of a shaky cease-fire. A further 29 people were injured in the attack, according to the Civil Hospital in Quetta. Saeed Shah reports for the Wall Street Journal.
At least 17 people have been killed and 26 injured in an attack on a religious school in northern Afghanistan. The majority of those killed are believed to be children ages nine to 15. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack which is being investigated by the Taliban’s security forces. Matt Murphy reports for BBC News.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing possible impeachment after he allegedly covered up a $4 million theft from his farm in 2020. South African spy boss, Arthur Fraser, a close ally of former President Jacob Zuma, has alleged that the stolen money could have been the proceeds of money laundering and corruption and has accused the president of kidnapping and bribing the burglars. Holding such a large amount of money in dollars could also violate foreign exchange control laws. Elsa Maishman reports for BBC News.
The Iranian government has stepped up its effort to kidnap and kill government officials, journalists, and dissidents around the world, including in the U.S.. This is according to government documents and interviews with 15 Western officials. The plots have dramatically increased in number and ambition over the past two years, with officials warning that Iran’s persistence makes it likely that they will eventually succeed, potentially sparking direct confrontation between the West and Tehran. Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet and Yeganeh Torbati report for the Washington Post.
U.S. officials believe the protests that erupted in a number of Chinese cities over the weekend are unlikely to spread. This is according to U.S. government communications that describe the protests as disparate, unorganized, and largely leaderless. This makes it unlikely that the demonstrations will lead to a wider more organized movement against the government, the communications say. Phelim Kine and Erin Banco report for POLITICO.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a letter to the Jan. 6 committee yesterday, demanding that it preserve all records and transcripts from its investigation. In his letter, he also vowed to hold hearings next year on the security failures that led to the attack on the Capitol, signaling that Republicans may use some of their time in the next Congress attempting to rewrite the narrative of Jan.6. Melanie Zanona, Annie Grayer and Daniella Diaz report for CNN.
The House Ways and Means Committee has gained access to six years of former President Trump’s tax returns. The Treasury has now handed over the returns after the Supreme Court last week declined to block it from giving the data to the House. The move marks the end of a nearly four-year effort by Democrats on the committee. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
House Democrats yesterday elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY) to be minority leader. Rep. Katherine Clark (MA) was elected as whip and Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA) was elected as chair of the party caucus. It is the first time in congressional history that the trio of leaders includes no white men. Annie Karni and Emily Cochrane report for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 98.788 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 643.426 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.64 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.