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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.
Russian forces fired dozens of missiles at Ukrainian cities yesterday, killing at least 12 people across the country. Ukraine managed to shoot down 47 of the 55 missiles, according to its Air Force command, including 20 in the area around the capital, Kyiv. Michael Schwirtz and Alan Yuhas report for the New York Times.
U.S. officials are pressuring Turkey to stop Russian airlines from flying American-made airplanes to and from the country, senior officials familiar with the talks have said. The U.S. last month issued a warning that Turkish individuals are at risk of jail time, fines, loss of export privileges, and other measures if they fail to comply with U.S. export controls involving the servicing of Russian, Belarusian and Iranian commercial aircraft. The warning to Turkey is a key test of whether the U.S. and its allies can succeed in isolating Russia over the long term, or whether Moscow can find a way to continue economic activity with the help of third countries. Jared Malsin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. has sanctioned a Chinese company for allegedly providing satellite imagery of Ukraine to assist Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group. Spacety China had provided Terra Tech, a Russia-based technology firm, with the images, which “were gathered in order to enable Wagner combat operation in Ukraine,” the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement. Kelly Ng reports for BBC News.
The U.S. and Israeli military conducted their largest-ever joint military exercise this week. More than 180,000 pounds of live munitions were fired, and thousands of military took part in the exercise. While U.S. and Israeli military officials stressed that the exercises, which ended yesterday, weren’t explicitly aimed at Iran, they were clearly intended to send a message to adversaries in the region. Dion Nissenbaum reports for the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. Special Operations commandos killed a senior Islamic State (ISIS) leader in a raid in northern Somalia yesterday, U.S. officials said. The Pentagon identified the leader as Bilal al-Sudani. In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that al-Sudani “was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan.” Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper report for the New York Times.
Hong Kong residents in the U.S. will be permitted to stay for at least two years even if their visas expire, under a White House order preventing their deportation to the city. In a memorandum issued yesterday, President Biden extended the Deferred Enforcement Departure program for Hong Kong residents, which was set to expire on Feb. 5. The move comes as Beijing continues its withering crackdown on political dissent in the city. Andrew Restuccia and Charles Hutzler report for the Wall Street Journal.
The FBI and European law enforcement have shut down a major ransomware operation accused of extorting more than $100 million from organizations across the world, U.S. officials said yesterday. The ransomware group, called Hive, operated by encrypting victims’ computer systems and demanding payments to provide a key to unlock them. The group attacked hospitals, school districts, financial firms, and others, stealing and sometimes publishing their data. Joseph Menn, Perry Stein and Aaron Schaffer report for the Washington Post.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS PROBES
The National Archives has formally asked presidents and vice presidents to re-check their personal records for any classified documents or other personal records. This comes following the discovery of classified documents in the homes of former President Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and President Biden over the last year. The Archives’ letter, sent yesterday, was addressed to the representative of former presidents and vice presidents from the last six presidential administrations covered by the Presidential Records Act (PRA) – former President Ronald Reagan’s White House to the present. Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb and Elizabeth Stuart report for CNN.
Senate Intelligence Committee lawmakers are considering how to obtain access to the classified documents that ended up in the personal possession of Biden and Trump. Information sharing has been put on hold since the appointment of special counsels to investigate the discovery of the documents, frustrating the panel’s ability to assess the threat to national security, the extent of any damage, and the potential need for changes to procedures and laws. When asked about the situation Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) said that the committee was actively discussing what tools they had at their disposal to force the issue. Siobhan Hughes and Warren P. Strobel report for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The State Bar of California unveiled new disciplinary charges against John Eastman for his involvement in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election results. The state bar’s trial counsel is bringing 11 counts against Eastman, accusing him of violating a variety of attorney ethics rules in multiple episodes, court cases and other conduct. Eastman’s attorney Randall Miller said in a lengthy statement that Eastman “disputes ‘every aspect’ of the action that has been filed against him by the State Bar,” and alleged the charges were political in nature. Tierney Sneed reports for CNN.
The inquiry of special counsel John Durham is coming to an end without finding any evidence that the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was a deep-state conspiracy. Moreover, a monthslong review by the New York Times has found that the Durham inquiry was marred by some of the very same flaws – including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation. Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner report for the New York Times.
Five Memphis police officers were charged yesterday with second-degree murder for the death of 29-year-old Black man Tyre Nichols. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop that escalated into what the authorities have described as a display of staggering brutality. The city is expected to release nearly an hour of bodycam footage depicting the killing this evening. Rick Rojas and Jessica Jaglois report for the New York Times.
Ali Shukri Amin, a Virginia man who pleaded guilty in 2015 to providing support to Islamic State, is accused of violating his release conditions by allegedly meeting with John Walker Lindh, who served 17 years in prison for supplying services to the group. According to court documents, the FBI photographed Amin having several conversations with Lindh in 2021, a violation of Amin’s release condition that he not communicate with any known extremists. Lindh, who was released in 2019, was also on supervised release and subject to the same condition as Amin at the time of the alleged meetings, but has not been accused of violating those terms. Holmes Lybrand reports for CNN.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will resume its investigation into the killings in the Philippines under former President Rodrigo Duterte. The tribunal, based in the Hague, said its Pre Trial Chamber had granted the request of Prosecutor Karim Khan to repone the probe as it was “not satisfied” with steps taken by the Philippine government. According to government data, more than 6,000 were killed in Duterte’s war on drugs, but rights groups estimate that the number is likely much higher. Andreo Calonzo reports for Bloomberg.
Police officers in Haiti attacked the prime minister’s residence and the country’s main airport yesterday to protest the killing of more than a dozen officers in the past two weeks by the armed gangs that control much of Haiti. Officers gathered outside Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s official residence, smashed car windows, and shot weapons into the courtyard. Later, protesters, some in police uniforms, broke a window at Toussaint Louverture International Airport and trashed an entryway. Widlore Mérancourt and Claire Parker report for the Washington Post.
COVID-19 has infected over 102.260 million people and has now killed over 1.10 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 669.949 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.82 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.