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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.


Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow today to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders will hold a closed meeting to discuss sensitive issues including international affairs, according to Russian officials. Tomorrow Xi will attend a meeting with Russia’s prime minister, participate in talks and attend a state dinner. Carly Olson reports for the New York Times

Putin visited the occupied Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday, in his first trip to territory seized in the past year. Putin drove through the streets of Mariupol, which was captured by his forces in May, after arriving there by helicopter, the Kremlin said in a statement. The city holds special significance for Russia as a symbol of its goal to control eastern Ukraine and for Kyiv as an illustration of Russian atrocities. Matthew Luxmoore reports for the Wall Street Journal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Friday that the country would move to ratify Finland’s application to join NATO, adding that he hoped the vote would take place before elections in mid-May. Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, who met in Ankara with Erdoğan, thanked him for the move to ratify but told reporters that Finland’s membership would not be “complete without Sweden.” Turkey has so far not agreed to approve Sweden’s membership bid, claiming that the country has become a haven for Kurdish separatists and other dissidents it considers terrorists. Steven Erlanger reports for the New York Times

The U.N. brokered deal allowing Ukraine to export grain through its Black Sea ports despite Russia’s blockage has been extended. Ukraine said the agreement has been extended for 120 days. However, Moscow indicated that it had only agreed to a 60-day extension, adding that it was only willing to extend beyond the 60 days if there was “tangible progress” in unblocking flows of Russian food and fertilizer to world markets. The U.N. confirmed the deal had been rolled over but did not specify for how long, as did Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Ben Hall reports for the Financial Times


The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for war crimes for Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights Maria Lvova-Belova. The court said that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin and Lvova-Belova bear individual criminal responsibility for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a statement announcing these arrest warrants the court said that it was mindful “that the conduct addressed in the present situation is allegedly ongoing, and that the public awareness of the warrants may contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes.” ICC News reports. 

Just Security has published an article by Rebecca Hamilton titled “The ICC Goes Straight for the Top: Arrest Warrant Issued for Putin.” 


North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile with a mock warhead yesterday, saying it was simulating a nuclear attack on U.S. and South Korean forces. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided two days of nuclear attack drills, launching a missile as a warning to Washington and Seoul for “frantically escalating” tensions by conducting joint exercises, Pyongyang’s state media reported today. Kim said possessing nuclear weapons wasn’t enough to deter a war and called on the military to perfect its nuclear forces to strike fear into the enemy. Dasl Yoon reports for the Wall Street Journal

President Biden issued a warning yesterday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his plans to overhaul the country’s judicial system. During a phone call between the two leaders, Biden expressed “concern” about the plan, saying that democratic values – including “genuine checks and balances”- had to remind a pillar of the U.S.-Israel relationship. According to a readout of the call, Biden also offered support for the efforts underway in the country to find a compromise on the proposed reforms, which have led to street protests by tens of thousands of Israelis. Yasmeen Abutaleb reports for the Washington Post

The Justice Department is investigating the surveillance of U.S. citizens by the Chinese company that owns TikTok, according to three people familiar with the matter. The investigation, which began last year, appears to be tied to the admission in December by the Beijing-based company, ByteDance, that its employees had inappropriately obtained the data of American TikTok users, including that of two reporters who cover the tech industry and a few of their associates. Emily Baker-White reports for Forbes


Former President Trump said Saturday that he expects to be arrested in connection with the investigation into his role in paying hush money to adult actor Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. In a social media post, Trump, referring to himself, said the “leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday of next week.” In an echo of his appeals to supporters in the wake of the 2020 presidential elections, he also called for action, writing: “Protest, take our nation back.” According to a report from CNN’s John Miller, meetings were ongoing last week among city, state, and federal law enforcement about security preparations for a possible Trump indictment. Kaitlin Collins, Kristen Holmes and Paula Reid report for CNN

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) yesterday pushed back on Trump’s calls for protests if he is ultimately indicted. “I don’t think people should protest this, no,” McCarthy told reporters, “we want calmness out there.” McCarthy also said that Trump’s tweet was likely meant to “educate” people about the investigation, and should not be interpreted as a call for violence. Olivia Beavers and Jordain Carney report for POLITICO

A New York defense attorney who briefly advised former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is expected to testify today before the Manhattan grand jury investigating the hush money scheme. Robert Costello is slated to testify at the request of the former president’s lawyers, according to people familiar with the matter. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has also called for Cohen to be available today if needed. While it wasn’t clear why Cohen, who has already testified, would be called again, prosecutors could use him to rebut testimony from Costello. Corinne Ramey and Joe Palazzolo report for the Wall Street Journal

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) and senior Republican Party leaders are preparing to demand testimony from members of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is reported to be among those to be called for testimony. However, it is unlikely that Bragg or his subordinate would answer questions about an ongoing probe or prosecution. While Republicans could threaten to hold him in contempt of Congress, the Justice Department would be unlikely to press charges in a partisan dispute. Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, and Ryan Lizza report for POLITICO


Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Egypt yesterday in an effort to reduce tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts this week. The meeting, which was also attended by other Middle Eastern and U.S. representatives, is the second in two months and comes amid fears that this Ramadan could be a particularly violent time, after the deadliest start to a year in more than two decades for Palestinians and Israelis. Isabel Kershner and Patrick Kingsley report for the New York Times

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad traveled to the U.A.E. yesterday for an official visit. In the latest sign of his normalization in the region following a decade-long isolation since the Syrian civil war began, al-Assad was greeted in Abu Dhabi with a 21-gun salute, according to a report published by the official Emirates News Agency. In Abu Dhabi, al-Assad met with Emirati ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and the two discussed the “brotherly relations” between their countries, the agency said. The trip comes just days after al-Assa travels to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Vivian Nereim Hwaida Saad reports for the New York Times

Taiwan’s former President Ma Ying-jeou will visit mainland China next week, the first such trip by a former Taiwanese leader since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. He will pay respects to his ancestors in southwestern Hunan province and lead a delegation of Taiwanese students to interact with counterparts from mainland China in a number of cities, according to the foundation. While the trip is ostensibly a private one it is filled with historic symbolism and comes at a time of deepening tensions over the future of Taiwan. Eric Cheung and Kathleen Magramo report for CNN