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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 – EUROPEAN RESPONSE
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said yesterday that his country would transfer four MIG fighter jets to Ukraine “literally in the next few days.” The jets would be the first sent to Ukraine by a NATO member since Russia invaded last year. White House spokesperson John Kirby said of the shipment, “it doesn’t change our calculus with respect to F-16s.” The U.S. has said it will not send fighter jets to Ukraine now but has not ruled out doing so in the future. Andrew Higgins and Lara Jakes report for the New York Times.
The government of Slovakia today said that it would send 13 MIG fighter jets to Ukraine, following Poland’s announcement. Such a move could mark a significant shift from NATO allies in increasing arms supplies for Kyiv. Slovakia’s prime minister, Eduard Heger, did not specify the timing of any delivery. Andrew Higgins, Matt Surman, and Lara Jakes report for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Chinese leader Xi Jinping plans to visit Moscow on Mar. 20-22 for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin confirmed today. The two leaders will discuss “topical issues of further development of the comprehensive partnership relations and strategic cooperation between Russia and China,” the Kremlin said, according to Russian state newswire TASS. The meeting will showcase the deepening relationship between Beijing and Moscow. Georgi Kantchev reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese companies, including one connected to the government, have sent Russian entities 1,000 assault rifles, drone parts, and body armor, according to trade and customs data obtained by POLITICO. The data reveal that China is supplying Russian companies with previously unreported “dual-use” equipment — commercial items that could be used on the battlefield. Providing Russia with dual-use items could be a way for China to increase its assistance to the country while avoiding backlash from the U.S. and Europe. Erin Banco and Sarah Anne Aarup report for POLITICO.
Russian troops have committed a “wide range” of violations in Ukraine, including war crimes, according to the latest report from the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. The violations include attacks with explosive weapons in populated areas, wilful killings of civilians, unlawful confinement, torture, rape and other sexual violence, and unlawful transfers and deportations of children. The report highlights the “deep loss and trauma” of survivors and recommends that all perpetrators of violations and crimes are held accountable through judicial proceedings under international human rights standards, “either at the national or the international level.” U.N. News reports.
At least one person died in a fire at a building used by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, FSB’s public relations office said. The FSB is Russia’s internal security service responsible for counter-intelligence, border security, and counter-terrorism. The governor of Rostov said a short circuit appeared to have caused the fire, which ignited fuel tanks. This incident follows a spate of arson attacks on government buildings in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. Robert Greenall reports for BBC News.
The State Department has approved the sale of 220 cruise missiles to Australia in a deal valued at $895m. The deal will now require a sign-off from Congress. The missiles would be used by the Virginia-class submarines that Australia will acquire from the U.S. under the AUKUS defense pact. Tom Housden reports for BBC News.
Iran has agreed to halt covert weapons shipments to its Houthi allies in Yemen as part of a China-brokered deal to re-establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials have said. The agreement to resume Saudi-Iran relations “gives a boost to the prospect of a [Yemen] deal in the near future,” while Iran’s approach to the conflict will be “a litmus test” for the success of last week’s diplomatic deal, one U.S. official said. Saudi Arabia and Iran have backed opposing sides in the Yemen conflict, one of the region’s longest-running civil wars. Dion Nissenbaum, Summer Said, and Benoit Faucon report for the Wall Street Journal.
Military forces in eastern Libya said yesterday that they have recovered the stockpile of uranium declared missing by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Roughly 2.5 tons of natural uranium were found several miles from the warehouse where they were previously stored by the Libyan National Army (LNA), a military group led by renegade Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter. An armed group from neighboring Chad may have raided the warehouse and taken the barrels hoping to find weapons or ammunition, said the head of the LNA’s media unit, Khaled Mahjoub. Victoria Bisset reports for the Washington Post.
Israeli forces have shot dead four Palestinians during an undercover raid in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials say. Israel’s military said troops killed two Hamas-affiliated militants wanted for “terrorist activities” and a person who tried to attack them with a crowbar. The Palestinian health ministry said a 16-year-old boy was also killed. The raid comes days before officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, and the U.S. will hold talks in Egypt to de-escalate tensions. David Gritten reports for BBC News.
The U.K. and New Zealand both prohibited the use of TikTok on government devices this week, citing security fears linked to the app’s ownership by a Chinese company. The U.S., the European Commission, Canada, and India have taken similar steps. Stephen Castle reports for the New York Times.
Brazil’s Rio Grande do Norte state is suffering from serious unrest for the third night caused by marauding criminal gangs who have set buses ablaze and carried out gun attacks on buildings in urban areas. The attacks were ordered from within the state’s jails when gang members’ requests for televisions, electricity, and conjugal visits were denied, Francisco Araujo, the state’s secretary of public security, said. Laura Gozzi reports for BBC News.
At least two dozen Mar-a-Lago staff have been subpoenaed to testify to a federal grand jury investigating former President Trump’s handling of classified documents. The staffers are of interest to investigators because of what they may have seen or heard while on their daily duties around the estate, including whether they saw boxes or documents in Trump’s office suite or elsewhere. Many of the staffers called to testify are being represented by counsel paid for by Trump entities, according to sources and federal election records. Katelyn Polantz, Paula Reid, Kristen Holmes and Casey Gannon report for CNN.
Investigators from Fulton County, Georgia, have an audio recording of a phone call Trump made to the Georgia House speaker to push for a special session to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. The recording adds to what’s known about the pressure campaign by Trump and his allies on Georgia officials. It’s the third audio recording of the former president’s phone calls to Georgia officials that is known to exist. The recording was played to the Fulton County special grand jury which recently concluded its work and recommended multiple indictments. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is now considering whether to make any charges. Kristen Holmes and Jason Morris report for CNN.
The House Judiciary Committee is launching an investigation into the various unauthorized record disclosures the Air Force acknowledged it made last year. In late February 2023, media reports highlighted how the Air Force improperly disclosed the personnel files of 11 servicemembers. This reportedly included disclosure of the files of two Republican party candidates to a Democratic-aligned group. In a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) sought additional information on the matter, including all records and communications related to the improper disclosures. Olivia Beavers reports for POLITICO.