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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
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday announced that he would suspend Russia’s participation in the New START treaty. The decision to step back from the last remaining major nuclear arms control treaty between the U.S. and Russia was announced during a wide-ranging state of the nation address in Moscow. While Russia’s Foreign Minister later said that Moscow would continue to observe the core provisions of the treaty, the stance will likely make it much more difficult to negotiate a follow-on accord after New START expires in February 2026. Ann M. Simmons, Sabrina Siddiqui, and Austin Ramzy report for the Wall Street Journal.
A Russian intercontinental ballistic missile test carried out around the time of President Biden’s visit to Ukraine on Monday appears to have failed. The testing of a heavy SARMAT missile – nicknamed the Satan II – capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads was conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. and did not pose any threats. Oren Liebermann and Natasha Bertrand report for CNN.
Biden is set to conclude his three-day visit to Europe with a meeting with leaders from NATO’s eastern flank. Biden’s meeting with the Bucharest Nine, the easternmost members of NATO, will reaffirm the group’s commitment to collective defense and unwavering support for Ukraine, the White House said in a statement. Victoria Kim reports for the New York Times.
The Biden administration is set to impose fresh sanctions on about 200 Russian individuals and entities this week. According to people familiar with the matter, the new sanctions package will include a number of Russian governors and the family members of Russian government officials. It will also include defense and related materials targets, technology firms and alleged sanctions-evasions networks. Vivian Salama and Laurence Norman report for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow earlier today. During the meeting, Wang affirmed the “Sino-Russian friendship” “no matter how the international situation changes”. Wang’s high-profile visit to Russia is broadly viewed to be a precursor to a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Nectar Gan and Simone McCarthy report for CNN.
Xi is preparing to visit Moscow for a summit with Putin in the coming months, according to people familiar with the plan. While the arrangements are in their early stages, the visit could take place in April or early May. According to those familiar with the matter the meeting with Putin would form part of a push by China for multiparty peace talks with Ukraine and would allow China to reiterate its calls that nuclear weapons not be used in the conflict. Austin Ramzy, Keither Zhai, and Laurence Norman report for the Wall Street Journal.
The head of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group yesterday accused the country’s defense minister and its most senior general of treason. In an audio message published by his press service, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused the “chief of the general staff and minister of defense,” of withholding ammunition and supplies from his fighters to try to Wagner, “which can be equated to treason.” The audio message is the latest in a series of increasingly hostile messages by Prignozhi taking aim at Russian military leaders. Anatoly Kurmanaev reports for the New York Times.
Russia yesterday called for a special U.N. commission to investigate the explosions that blew up the Nord Stream gas pipeline in September. The request to the U.N. Security Council was based largely on an American journalist’s allegation that a U.S. covert operation was responsible for the attack. The U.S. called the allegation “completely false.” Of the 15-member council, only China offered full support for Russia’s call for an inquiry. Karen DeYoung reports for the Washington Post.
Putin yesterday canceled a decree that partly underpins Moldova’s sovereignty in resolving the issue of the Russian-backed separatist region of Transdniestria. The revocation of the 2012 decree does not itself indicate a Russian denial of Moldovan sovereignty, however it demonstrates the Kremlin response to a perceived “anti-Russian agenda” that is making the region “very tense”. Moldova shares a border with Ukraine. Alexander Tanas reports for Reuters.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is outpacing U.S. naval capacity, according to U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. China has better shipbuilding capacity and aims to bolster its naval assets to 400 ships, up from 340, in the coming years. Meanwhile, the U.S. capacity is expected to decline before rising to 350, up from 300, by 2045. A Congressional Research Service report highlighted the U.S. Navy’s steps to address the gap with China, including sending more modern assets to the Pacific. Brad Lendon and Haley Britzky report for CNN.
A federal judge yesterday rejected the effort by relatives of victims of the Sept.11 attacks to seize $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan Central Bank funds. In a 30-page opinion, Judge George B. Daniels ruled that federal courts lacked legal jurisdiction to seize the funds. He also said that awarding them to the families would be unconstitutional because it would mean effectively recognizing the militants as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
Former Mexican anti-drug czar Genaro García Luna has been convicted of drug trafficking in a New York Court. The 54-year-old former security minister faces a mandatory sentence of a minimum of 20 years after being found guilty of taking bribes from one of Mexico’s most infamous criminal organizations – the Sinaloa drug cartel. Madeline Halpert & Bernd Debusmann Jr report for the BBC.
The Biden administration yesterday announced a new immigration policy barring migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. if they failed to apply for protection in a safe third country or if they entered the U.S. illegally. The new rule has attracted staunch criticism from migrant advocacy groups, who accuse the administration of perpetuating Trump-era asylum policies. This rule is set to become effective as of May 11. Myah Ward reports for POLITICO.
The special grand jury that investigated election interference by former President Trump and his allies in Georgia recommended multiple indictments in its final report, the foreperson of the jury said yesterday. The foreperson, Emily Kohrs, declined to name the people recommended for indictment since the judge handling the case decided to keep those details secret when he made public a few sections of the report last week. When asked whether the jurors had recommended indicting Trump, she would not answer directly, instead saying: “You’re not going to be shocked. It’s not rocket science.” Danny Hakim reports for the New York Times.
Former President Trump spent roughly $10 million from his political action committee on his own legal fees last year. The money was part of more than $16 million that Trump’s PAC, Save America, spent for legal-related payments in 2021 and 2022, federal election filings show. Some of the $16 million appears to have been for lawyers representing witnesses in investigations related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, but the majority of it went to firms directly representing Trump in a string of investigations and lawsuits, including some related to his company. Maggie Haberman reports for the New York Times.
The Supreme Court appears unlikely to limit a law that protects social media platforms from lawsuits over their users’ posts. Despite widespread fears in the tech community about such a blow, the justices’ arguments in the case of Gonzalez v. Google yesterday showed reluctance to upend almost three decades of legal precedent. Both liberal and conservative justices suggested Congress is the best body to amend the federal law at issue, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, not the courts. Josh Gerstein and Rebecca Kern report for POLITICO.
COVID-19 has infected over 103.170 million people and has now killed over 1.12 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 674.360 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.86 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.