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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 – U.S. RESPONSE
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Washington yesterday. During his visit he made an impassioned speech before Congress, where he urged the U.S. to increase its military aid to Ukraine. He stressed that the aid provided by the U.S. wasn’t charity, but “an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.” Ken Thomas and Andrew Restuccia report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Biden administration announced that it will provide an additional $1.85 bil in military aid to Ukraine. The package includes $1 bil in weapons and equipment from Pentagon stocks, including a Patriot battery – the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has provided to Ukraine so far. The remaining $850 mil will be provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and will be used, in part, to fund a satellite communication system. Lolita C. Baldor and Matthew Lee report for AP.
The U.S.’s decision to supply Ukraine with Patriot missile systems, will not contribute to settling the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday. Peskov, said there had been no signs of readiness for peace talks during Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, and that this was evidence the U.S. was fighting a proxy war with Russia “to the last Ukrainian.” The Guardian reports.
Russia’s ambassador to Washington said Zelenskyy’s visit to the U.S. “showed that neither the administration nor Zelenskyy are ready for peace.” According to a transcript of his comments released by the Russian embassy, Anatoly Antobov also criticized plans to provide Ukraine with Patriot missile systems, questioning whether they would be operated by U.S. or NATO specialists. The Washington Post reports.
The Senate voted yesterday to confirm veteran diplomat Lynne M. Tracy as the new U.S. ambassador to Russia. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opened the chamber’s session by saying that the confirmation, alongside a fresh $45 bil aid package, would send a strong signal that Americans stand “unequivocally” with the Ukrainian people. AP reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
During a televised address at the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the war in Ukraine could be financed without “limits.” Hitting back at the criticism that the Kremlin had left Russia’s armed forces without key fighting equipment, Putin said his government was providing “everything the army needs.” Anastasia Stognei and Polina Ivanova report for the Financial Times.
During his address Putin also acknowledged some of Russia’s military shortcomings and listed areas in need of improvement. Drones must be able to communicate targeting information through encrypted channels “in real time,” he said, adding that the military needed to “improve the command and control system” and its ability to strike back at enemy artillery. Anton Troianovski reports for the New York Times.
Russian forces have systematically targeted influential Ukrainians, to neutralised resistance through detention, torture and executions, a AP investigation has found. Russian troops hunted Ukrainians by name, using lists prepared with the help of their intelligence services. The strategy appears to violate the laws of war, and could form part of a case for genocide. Erika Kinetz reports for AP.
French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday called on Europe to reduce its reliance on the U.S. for security. Speaking to three reporters on his return to Paris from a summit in Jordan, Macron said that Europe needs to take a more assertive role within NATO, and develop its own defense capabilities. Macron stressed that his push to develop European defense would not stand as an alternative to NATO, but would allow the continent to act “inside NATO, with NATO but also not depending on NATO.” Noemie Bisserbe and Stacy Meichtry report for the Wall Street Journal.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack released more that 30 witness interview transcripts yesterday from key figures who aided former President Trump in his effort to overturn the 2020 election. Conservative attorney John Eastman and one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn were among those whose transcripts were released. The transcripts confirm that most of these individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, and show how witnesses like Eastman and Flynn were unable to validate their assertions about election fraud. Zachary Cohen, Sara Murray, Tierney Sneed and Annie Grayer report for CNN.
The Inland Revenue Service (IRS) subjected former President Obama and President Biden to annual audits of their tax returns once they took office, spokespeople for the pair said yesterday. The disclosure of routine audits of Obama and Biden during their presidencies raises further questions about how Trump avoided such scrutiny until Democrats in the House started inquiring. Charlie Savage and Alan Rappeport report for the New York Times.
Two former executives of Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency ventures have pleaded guilty to federal criminal fraud charges. Caroline Ellison, who was chief executive of the cryptocurrency hedge fund Alameda Research, and Gary Wang, a founder of FTX, are both cooperating in the prosecution of Bankman-Fried, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said yesterday. David Yaffe-Bellany, Matthew Goldstein and Benjamin Weiser report for the New York Times.
Frank R. James, the man accused of carrying out an attack on the New York subway system in April, is expected to plead guilty to terrorism charges. James has been charged with 10 counts of terrorist attack for each of the 10 people shot, as well as a firearms charge. No one was killed in the attack, which took place during morning rush hour on April 12. Rebecca Davis O’Brien reports for the New York Times.
Israel’s longest service prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that he has succeeded in forming a coalition government. Once finalized and ratified by Parliament in the coming days, the coalition deal will return Netanyahu to office just 18 months after he left it. Netanyahu will lead the most right-wing administration in Israeli history, sparking concerns that his reliance on far-right factions will cause Israel to drift away from liberal democracy. Patrick Kingsley reports for the New York Times.
Fiji has mobilized its military to maintain “security and stability” after last week’s election delivered a hung parliament. Whilst a coalition of parties claim to have a combined majority and have agreed on the People’s Alliance leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, as prime minister, Fiji’s incumbent prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has not conceded defeat. Both men have led coups in the past. The Guardian reports.
The U.N. Security Council (U.N.S.C.) has called on Myanmar’s ruling military junta to release all political prisoners, including deposed State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. U.N.S.C. Resolution 2669 is the first passed on the Southeast Asian country since its independence. The resolution, which was proposed by the U.K., also expressed ““deep concern at the ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military,” and called for greater humanitarian assistance for victims of violence, including the persecuted Rohingya minority. Richard Roth reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 100.184 million people and has now killed over 1.09 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 655.453 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.67 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.