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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 – FIGHTING
The U.S. is not encouraging Ukraine to attack targets inside Russia, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said yesterday. However, he stopped short of condemning such attacks, instead emphasizing U.S. support for operations inside Ukraine. His comments came after two days of what appeared to be Ukrainian drone strikes on military bases deep in Russia. Michael Crowley reports for the New York Times.
Russia has blamed Ukraine for the strike on an airfield in the Russian city of Kursk yesterday – the third strike on air bases in Russian territory in two days. Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday gathered his national-security council for a meeting on how to guarantee “internal security,” according to state media. The Ukrainian government has not commented on this week’s strikes, but officials have hinted that their weapons were capable of reaching the targets. Yaroslav Trofimov reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The strikes that hit two air bases in Russia on Monday used Soviet-era, jet-powered drones, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense has said. Arms experts confirmed it was highly likely that the craft used was the Tupolev TU-141 Strizh, a surveillance drone developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and repurposed by the Ukrainians. Lara Jakes reports for the New York Times.
Plunging temperatures in Ukraine have frozen the ground in the east of the country, allowing Ukrainian forces to escalate their offensive in the Luhansk region. This is according to military officials, who say that the frozen ground has allowed vehicles previously bogged down by muddy ground to pick up the pace. Matthew Mpoke Bigg reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N. has released a report detailing extrajudicial killings by the Russian Army during the first months of the war. The report documents 441 killings of civilians in areas along the Russian attack route toward Kyiv. However, the total number of killings was “likely considerably higher,” the report notes. Andrew E. Kramer reports for the New York Times.
Hungary yesterday blocked an E.U. plan to provide Ukraine with an 18 bil euro ($18.93 bil) package of financial aid. Hungary’s decision to veto has stymied efforts to secure the package through common E.U. debt issuance, meaning that the bloc will almost certainly fall billions of euros short of its promised assistance to Ukraine. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Ukrainian embassies in Denmark and Romania received “dangerous parcels” yesterday, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement. No details were provided about the packages, but the announcement comes after Ukrainian embassies in several countries were sent packages containing animal eyes, and after six letter bombs were mailed to offices in Spain, including the Ukrainian Embassy. Cora Engelbrecht reports for the New York Times.
The conditions for a peaceful settlement to the war in Ukraine are “not there now,” NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday. Stoltenberg accused Russia of showing “no sign of engaging in negotiations which are respecting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.” His remarks follow weeks of speculation over the potential for diplomatic talks and comments by senior western officials referencing possible negotiations. Henry Foy reports for the Financial Times.
A U.S. federal court yesterday dismissed a lawsuit against the crown prince of Saudi Arabia over the killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The decision followed a determination by the State Department that the prince has immunity as a head of state or government. In its 25-page filing, the court expressed its unease over “the credible allegations” of the crown prince’s involvement in the killing, as well as the circumstances of his appointment by his father King Salman, which some have claimed was designed to ensure his immunity in the case. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. is preparing to resume full ground operations alongside Kurdish partners in Northern Syria, Pentagon officials said yesterday. The decision risks inflaming relations with NATO ally Turkey, which blames the Kurds for a recent bomb attack in Istanbul. According to three U.S. officials, there is a risk that Turkey could follow through on its threat to send ground forces into northern Syria, potentially jeopardizing U.S. troops there and upending years of relative stability. Dan Lamothe and Louisa Loveluck report for the Washington Post.
An Iranian patrol boat tried to temporarily blind U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. The boat shone a spotlight towards the vessels and crossed within 150 yards of them on Monday night violating international standards for safe maritime behavior the statement said. Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
Australia and the U.S. have agreed to deepen defense cooperation amid growing concerns about China’s actions in the Indo-Pacific region. As part of this, the U.S. will deploy more military assets in Australia U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced at the end of annual talks between the two countries. Mike Cherney reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Special Forces in Germany have arrested 25 people suspected of supporting a domestic terrorist organization. The organization had been planning to overthrow the government and form its own state, the federal prosecutor said. The group was described as being influenced by the ideologies of the conspiracy group QAnon and a right-wing German conspiracy group called Citizens of the Reich. Melissa Eddy and Erika Solomon report for the New York Times.
A court in Argentina yesterday sentenced the country’s vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, to six years in prison and disqualified her from public office after finding her guilty of corruption. Fernández de Kirchner has temporary immunity due to her current role so will not immediately go to jail, and can appeal. Whilst she denies the allegations, following the verdict she announced that she will not run for reelection next year. Sahar Akbarzai and Emilia Delfino report for CNN.
A suspected Islamist militant killed one other person and injured at least 10 in a suicide bomb attack in the Indonesian city of Bandung. Investigators have found documents protesting the country’s controversial new criminal code at the crime scene. Whilst the new code contains sharia-based provisions, Islamist hardliners may have been angered by other measures that could be used to crack down on the propagation of extremist ideologies, analysts say. Reuters reports.
Jamaica has declared a state of emergency across the country to fight violent crime. The State of Emergency, which allows authorities to arrest people and search buildings without a warrant, will be enforced in nine of Jamaica’s 14 perished, the nation’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a public address. Teele Rebane reports for CNN.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has decided to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, the panel’s chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said yesterday. Decisions about the specifics of these referrals have not yet been made. However, questions over whether certain witnesses perjured themselves will be “part of the discussion,” Thompson confirmed. Sara Murray, Annie Grayer and Zachary Cohen report for CNN.
The Justice Department has sent grand jury subpoenas to local officials in Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin – three states targeted by former President Trump in his efforts to reverse the 2020 election results. The subpoenas – the first issued since the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith to oversee Trump-related aspects of the department’s Jan. 6 investigations – seek any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, and a long list of aides and allies. Amy Gardner, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, and Patrick Marley report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Trump Organization was yesterday convicted of tax fraud and other crimes. The convictions on all 17 counts, which stemmed from the company’s practice of handing out off-the-books perks to executives, came after more than a day of jury deliberations. While former President Trump has not been charged with anything in connection with the case, prosecutors invoked him throughout the trial, telling jurors he had personally paid for some of the perks. Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum and Lola Fadulu report for the New York Times.
The suspect in last month’s attack on an LGBTQ club in Colorado was charged yesterday with 305 criminal counts. The charges filed against Anderson Lee Aldrich include first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first and second-degree assault, and hate crimes. Five people were killed and 17 were injured in the attack. David K. Li reports for NBC News.
COVID-19 has infected over 99.081 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 646.612 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.65 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.