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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.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – LEAKED INTELLIGENCE REPORTS
The Air Force has suspended two commanders from the National Guard unit where accused intelligence leaker Jack Teixeira served, a spokesperson said yesterday. The spokesperson also confirmed that “the Department of Air Force has temporarily removed these individuals’ access to classified systems and information.” Dan Whitcomb reports for Reuters.
Federal prosecutors will today urge a judge to keep intelligence leaker Jack Teixeira behind bars, arguing he may still have access to secret national defense information he could expose. Investigators are trying to determine whether Teixeira kept any physical or digital copies of classified information, including files that have not surfaced publicly. Alanna Durkin Richer and Eric Tucker report for AP News.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Former President Trump cannot block former Vice President Pence from testifying before a grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday. Pence may now speak under oath about the pressure Trump put him under to declare the 2020 election results invalid. However, Trump could attempt to block the testimony by appealing to the Supreme Court. Rachel Weiner reports for the Washington Post.
Charles Lieber, a former Harvard chemistry professor, was sentenced on Tuesday for making false statements to the government and failing to declare large sums of money China had paid him. Lieber had a three-year contract with a Chinese entity under which he agreed to establish a research lab at Wuhan University, publish articles, organize international conferences, and apply for patents on the school’s behalf. The conviction results from an initiative to identify scientists suspected of sharing sensitive information with China. Gina Kolata reports for the New York Times.
All nine Supreme Court justices have signed a “Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices.” Although designed to quell rising calls for ethics reform, it did not break much new ground and stopped short of adopting an enforceable code of conduct. Josh Gerstein reports for POLITICO.
President Biden is set to announce a new “Washington Declaration” to coordinate with South Korea and to reassure Seoul of protection against nuclear attack. At the same time, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will re-commit to non-proliferation. Dave Lawler reports for Axios.
A U.S. Navy nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine will visit South Korea to help demonstrate Washington’s resolve to protect the country from a North Korean attack. This is the first time since the 1980s that such a visit will occur. Josh Smith and Ju-min Park report for Reuters.
U.S. spy agencies detected construction at a suspected Chinese military facility in the U.A.E. in December, one year after Washington’s ally announced it was halting the project because of U.S. concerns, leaked intelligence reports reveal. China’s efforts in the U.A.E. are part of a campaign by China’s military to build a global military network that includes at least five overseas bases and 10 logistical support sites by 2030. John Hudson, Ellen Nakashima, and Liz Sly report for the Washington Post.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – SUDAN
Fighting is continuing in parts of Sudan despite a 72-hour ceasefire largely holding. Sudan’s army chief has reportedly approved extending the ceasefire beyond Friday for another 72 hours. BBC News reports.
The World Health Organization expects “many more” deaths in Sudan due to disease outbreaks, lack of access to food and water, and disruptions to essential health services, including immunization, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday. Reuters reports.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – CHINA
Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu has arrived in India to attend today’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation defense ministers’ meeting amid strained ties between the countries. This is the first visit to India by a Chinese defense minister since a deadly clash between their troops in 2020 in which at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed. BBC News reports.
China yesterday broadened the scope of its expansive counter-espionage law. The changes expand the definition of espionage from covering state secrets and intelligence to any “documents, data, materials or items related to national security and interests.” Analysts warn that the move could create additional legal risks or uncertainty for foreign companies, journalists, and academics. Simone McCarthy and Nectar Gan report for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
A senior Iranian Shia Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Abbasali Soleimani, has been killed in a gun attack in northern Iran, state media report. Ayatollah Soleimani was one of 88 clerics on the Assembly of Experts, which appoints the Supreme Leader. The attacker, who has been arrested, was a bank security guard. The motive remains unclear. David Gritten reports for BBC News.
Representatives of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa walked backed Ramaphosa’s suggestions on Tuesday that it would be prudent for the country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. The representatives clarified that it would push for withdrawal only as a last resort if other efforts to end what it considers the court’s inequitable treatment of certain nations failed. John Eligon reports for the New York Times.
The youth wing of Germany’s far-right party, Alternative für Deutschland, has been classified as a “certified right-wing extremist endeavor,” allowing the highest level of scrutiny by the German domestic intelligence service. Members of the youth wing show signs of increasing radicalization and ethno-nationalism. Marcel Fürstenau reports for Deutsche Welle.
Brazil’s Congress is launching an official investigation into the Jan. 8 storming of the nation’s political and judicial institutions. Right-wing supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro stormed and ransacked the country’s parliament, supreme court, and the presidential palace, claiming his election defeat was rigged and calling for military intervention. Bolsonaro has denied any involvement. Bryan Harris and Michael Pooler report for the Financial Times.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – LEAKED INTELLIGENCE REPORTS
Russian military leaders’ recruitment plans to enlist 400,000 additional troops are raising the alarm among other government officials worried about an increasingly critical labor shortage, according to leaked intelligence reports. President Vladimir Putin “reportedly backed” his military’s proposal to “quietly recruit” additional troops throughout 2023. Russia is facing the worst workforce shortage in over 20 years due to the war. Mary Ilyushina reports for the Washington Post.
Russia will be able to fund the war in Ukraine for at least another year despite the sanctions, according to leaked intelligence reports. Adam Taylor reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Chinese leader Xi Jinping called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday, their first conversation since the Russian invasion began. During the hourlong conversation, the two leaders talked about working together toward a “just and sustainable peace” for Ukraine, Zelenskyy has said. China’s Foreign Ministry said it would send a special representative for Eurasian affairs to Ukraine and other countries “for in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.” Austin Ramzy reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Despite degeneration, Russia’s “ground force … is bigger today than it was at the beginning of the conflict,” Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the commander of U.S. European Command, told the House Armed Services Committee. Russia’s navy and air force have not sustained significant hardware losses. Haley Britzky reports for CNN.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny told a Moscow courtroom yesterday that he is facing extremism charges that could keep him imprisoned for 30 years. Gregory Svirnovskiy reports for POLITICO.