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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.
A Libyan intelligence official charged in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, has been taken into U.S. custody and will face charges in Washington. In 2020, U.S. authorities announced charges against the suspect Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who was in Libyan custody at the time. Though he is the third Libyan intelligence official charged in the U.S. in connection with the attack, he is the first to be successfully extradited there. Eric Tucker and Sylvia Hui report for AP News.
A man accused of taking part in attacks in Mali in 2015 that killed dozens of people, including an American aid worker, has been extradited to the U.S. to face multiple terrorism charges. Fawaz Ould Ahmed Ould Ahemeid, arrived in the U.S. on Friday and appeared on Saturday before a federal magistrates judge in Brooklyn, NY, where he pleaded not guilty. Ahemeid has already pleaded guilty to related offenses in Mali, where he was sentenced to death. It is not clear what the extradition means for his sentence in Mali. Rebecca Davis O’Brien reports for the New York Times.
African leaders will head to Washington this week for a major summit hosted by President Biden. The U.S.-African Leader Summit will start on Tuesday and will include top-level meetings, new initiatives and business deals, and a gala dinner at the White House. The summit comes as global powers, including China and Russia, vie for military, commercial, and diplomatic interests in the continent. Declan Walsh reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. killed two Islamic State (ISIS) officials in a helicopter raid in eastern Syria, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. One of the officials killed was a regional leader who was involved in planning operations in eastern Syria. The raid was a unilateral U.S. operation, CENTCOM said, and the initial assessment was that no civilians were killed or injured. Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr report for CNN.
The Democrat’s victory in Georgia last week has given them unilateral subpoena power in many committees, without support from the Republican Party. How the Democrats plan to use this power has begun to emerge, with key Democratic senators eyeing investigations of corporate abuses, tax dodging, harmful “big tech” practices and powerful entities like drug makers and oil companies. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that caucus leaders will meet to map out a path forward, saying that corporate corruption and inequities were among the things that the “subpoena power can deal with.” Sahil Kapur reports for NBC News.
Drafts of the Jan. 6 committee’s report have begun circulating, with a final report expected to be formally approved on Dec. 21. According to those briefed on it, the final report will have eight chapters that closely align with the evidence the panel unveiled during its public hearings earlier this year. It will also contain a long executive summary describing former President Trump’s culpability for efforts to subvert the 2020 election. More details of what is expected to be in the final report are provided by Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu for POLITICO.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Ukraine launched missile attacks on the illegally occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine, according to reports from officials on both sides of the conflict. According to Russian state media, 20 missiles also hit the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Sunday. There have also been reports of multiple explosions in illegally-annexed Crimea, including at a military barracks in Sovietske. Josh Pennington, Julia Kesaieva, Tim Lister and Mariya Knight report for CNN.
Ukrainian forces have struck a headquarters of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, the governor-in-exile of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine has said. The strike on a hotel in Kadiivka, Luhansk, where the group allegedly meet, has caused Russia “significant losses” Serhiy Haidai said, adding that he expected “at least 50%” of the surviving forces to die due to lack of medical treatment. Phelan Chatterjee and Sam Hancock report for BBC News.
Russia launched an aerial assault on the already battered cities of Odesa, Kherson, and Mykolaiv. The attacks used advanced Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles, the Ukrainian Air Force said in a statement. The U.K.’s intelligence agency warned that Iran’s support to the Russian military was likely to grow in the coming months. Marc Santora reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – NUCLEAR THREAT
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia might change its nuclear doctrine to allow for a preemptive first strike. At a news conference in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, Putin said that the U.S. policy did not exclude the possibility of a preventative blow, whereas Russia’s current policy only allowed for a retaliatory strike. Putin’s comments came days after he warned of the “increasing” threat of nuclear war. Tim Lister reports for CNN.
Russia is expanding its nuclear arsenal, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned on Friday. Austin’s comments echoed assessments in the Pentagon’s nuclear policy review, which revealed that Moscow continued to add to its stockpile of close to 6,000 warheads. Helene Cooper reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with the leaders of the U.S., France, and Turkey yesterday. The calls, which touched on issues central to the war, including grain, the global economy, and defending against Russia, came ahead of Group of Seven nations and NATO meetings set to take place this week. Yan Zhuang reports for the New York Times.
NATO’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg warned on Friday that Russia’s war in Ukraine could expand into a wider conflict with the Atlantic alliance. “If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong,” Stoltenberg said in an interview released on Friday with the Norwegian journalist Anne Lindmo, in which he added that there was “no doubt” a full-blown war against NATO was a “real possibility.” Anushka Patil reports for the New York Times.
E.U. foreign ministers will meet in Brussels today to try to agree on further sanctions on Russia and Iran and an additional 2 bil euros ($ 2.11 bil) in aid for Ukraine. However, it remains unclear whether Hungary will block some decisions, resorting to what diplomats have called “blackmail diplomacy” over locked E.U. funds for Budapest. Sabine Siebold reports for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Four people have been charged as part of an investigation into suspected bribes from Qatar to current and former officials and lawmakers in the European Parliament. The office of the Belgian federal prosecutor, which announced the charges, did not name any of those charged and named only “a gulf state.” However, a Belgian official directly involved in the case said that the country allegedly involved was Qatar. Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports for the New York Times.
Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon, was sentenced to more than five years in prison on Saturday for fraud. Lai, whose publications were some of the most aggressive critics of China’s Communist Party, has already been imprisoned for participating in unauthorized protests and is facing more serious national-security charges. His latest sentencing has drawn international condemnation, with U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price decrying the outcome as “neither fair nor just.” Austin Ramzy reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić met with his national security council amid growing tensions in Kosovo between the authorities there and ethnic Serbs. The latest unrest, which saw Kosovo and E.U. police deployed to majority-Serb areas, was triggered by the arrest of a Serb former police officer on Saturday. Both the E.U. and NATO, which has peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, have called on all parties to avoid provocations. Elsa Maishman and James Gregory report for BBC News.
The president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, has called on the international community to intervene in Haiti to halt gang violence. Whilst the U.S. wants to see a broader political consensus inside the country before committing to military intervention, Abinader said the situation demanded immediate action. The Dominican Republic has received a large number of Haitian migrants in recent years and has been criticized for its deportation and mass detention of suspected illegal Haitian migrants. Michael Stott reports for the Financial Times.
COVID-19 has infected over 99.413 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 649.195 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.