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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the weekend.
In its second major airstrike in three days, Russia fired missiles at targets across Ukraine, hitting a railway hub in eastern Ukraine. The Russian strikes set a huge blaze in a southeastern district, Pavlohrad, a railway hub behind the southern and eastern fronts, where officials reported on Monday that 34 people were wounded, including children, and dozens of homes damaged. Ukraine officials said that 15 of 18 Russian cruise missiles were shot down, shielding the capital, Kyiv, and other major cities. The strikes follow 23 civilian deaths three days ago, where a Russian missile hit a high-rise apartment building in Uman, central Ukraine. “Ukrainian officials also released images of a scorched wasteland, and said an industrial enterprise was hit, which they did not identify. Mykola Lukashuk, head of the Dnipropetrovsk region council, said the attack had damaged 19 apartment blocks, 25 houses, three schools, three kindergartens and several shops,” Reuters reports.
A Crimean oil depot erupted in fire after it was hit by two Ukrainian drones. Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Kremlin-installed governor of the Crimean port city Sevastopol, posted footage of the blaze on his Telegram channel. He said the fire caused no casualties and would not reduce the supply of fuel for Sevastopol. Ukraine did not openly claim responsibility, but emphasized its right to strike any target in response to aggression by Russia, which has controlled Crimea since its 2014 invasion of Ukraine. David Rising reports for AP.
As Russia toughens penalties for men avoiding military service, more than 1,000 face criminal charges for offenses such as abandoning their units, and more than 1,100 have been convicted of evading military service. Penalties are harsh, such as 3 to 10 years for refusing an order to participate in combat, or sentences of years in a penal colony for trying to escape conscription. Neil MacFarquhar reports for the New York Times.
Pope Francis met with European leaders during a three-day visit to Budapest as part of a “mission” to end the war between Russia and Ukraine. Francis said he discussed the situation with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been on the outs with European Union leaders in Brussels and opposed military aid to Ukraine, and with Metropolitan Hilarion, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Budapest. Before his trip, the Pope met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to discuss a “peace formula.” Jason Horowitz reports for the New York Times.
JPMorgan Chase & Co is set to buy “the substantial majority of assets” of First Republic Bank and assume all of the lender’s deposits, insured and uninsured, in a deal arranged by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the independent government agency that insures deposits for bank customers. “The banking giant will take $173 billion of loans and about $30 billion of securities of First Republic Bank including $92 billion of deposits, JPMorgan said in a statement. It is not assuming the bank’s corporate debt or preferred stock,” Reuters reports.
Former President Trump has asked the judge in the E. Jean Carroll defamation and battery case to declare a mistrial, arguing in a letter filed early this morning that the judge, Judge Lewis Kaplan, had made “pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings” against Trump. Alternatively, said Trump attorney Joe Tacopina, lawyers would ask Judge Kaplan to “correct the record for each and every instance in which the Court has mischaracterized the facts of this case to the jury” or offer Tacopina greater leeway in cross examining Carroll. “Here, despite the fact trial testimony has been underway for only two days, the proceedings are already replete with numerous explanations of Defendant’s unfair treatment by the Court, most of which has been witnessed by the Jury,” the letter read. “Among the issues raised by Tacopina are the judge’s ruling restricting Tacopina from asking Carroll additional questions about any efforts Carroll made to try to obtain security camera footage from the department store, ‘expressing a corroborative view’ that there was no one on the sixth floor of the department store at the time of the alleged assault, and calling certain lines of the defense attorney’s questioning ‘argumentative’ in front of the jury,” Kara Scannell reports for CNN.
Local and federal authorities were using tracking dogs and cell phone signals in a widening manhunt for Francisco Oropeza, who allegedly fatally shot five people in Cleveland, Texas. Officers found his cell phone abandoned and believe Oropeza is no longer in the area. Before the shooting, neighbors had asked Oropeza to stop firing a rifle in his yard because a baby was trying to sleep. Raja Razek, Andy Rose, and Ray Sanchez report for CNN.
The FBI issued a statement Sunday night saying Oropeza was considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached by members of the public. Authorities were widening their search to as far as 20 miles from the location of the shooting. Andrea Blanco reports for The Independent, via Yahoo News.
The U.S. Army released the names of three soldiers killed in a mid-air collision between two military helicopters over Alaska. “The battalion is devastated and mourning the loss of three of our best,” said Lt. Col. Matthew C. Carlsen, commander of Alaska-based 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation. The cause of the collision is under investigation by a team from the Alabama-based U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center. Dennis Romero reports for NBC.
The Justice Department is investigating whether former President Donald Trump and his allies raised more than $250 million to press his allegations of election fraud in 2020 that they knew to be false. “The Justice Department, with its ability to bring criminal charges, has been able to prompt more extensive cooperation from a number of witnesses. And prosecutors have developed more information than the House committee did.” Maggie Haberman, Alan Feuer, and Jonathan Swan report for the New York Times.
Historic snowmelts in California are raising flooding risks. As temperatures warm after record snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, parts of California’s Central Valley – which includes Sacramanto and Fresno – face the risk of damaging floods. More than 500 inches of snow fell in some areas during a historic winter season. Evan Bush, Jiachuan Wu, and Kathryn Prociv report for NBC News.
Regulators on the California Air Resources Board approved a ban on the sale of new big rigs and buses running on diesel by 2036, and new carbon dioxide-emitting trucks by 2045. “This rule provides manufacturers, truck owners and fueling providers the assurance that there will be a market and the demand for zero-emissions vehicles, while providing a flexible path to making the transition toward clean air,” said Liane Randolph, chair of the board. California now awaits a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency to legally enforce the rule. Neelam Bohra and Coral Davenport report for the New York Times.
The United States has facilitated the departure of almost 1,000 American citizens from Sudan, as a second convoy from Khartoum arrived at Port Sudan. The convoy of eight buses on Sunday followed another the previous day of 18 buses carrying several hundred American evacuees. “The death toll from the crisis in Sudan has climbed over 500, according to the World Health Organization, with thousands more wounded.” CBS News reports
President Joe Biden meets with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines at the White House on Monday. The talks are scheduled amid growing concerns over China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea, including harassing Philippine navy and coast guard patrols. Biden and Marcos also are due to discuss new economic, education, and climate initiatives during the four-day visit, the first in more than a decade by a president of the Philippines. Aamer Madhani and Jim Gomez report for AP.
The U.N. working group on arbitrary detention has called for the immediate release of Guantánamo “forever prisoner” Abu Zubaydah, saying his detention has no basis in law. The U.N. body’s decision, the first issued against the United States regarding Zubaydah’s detention, urged the U.S. government to close the facility and expressed “grave concern about the pattern that all” cases at Guantánamo follow and recalled that, “under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.” The opinion marks the first international decision against multiple states for their distinct contributions and “joint responsibility.” “Thailand, Poland, Morocco, Lithuania, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom played a role in the extraordinary rendition programme, whether through directly detaining persons subjected to it, or through knowingly assisting the implementation of the programme through transport access and the provision of locations for unregistered detention sites. These States are all jointly responsible for the arrest, rendition and arbitrary detention of Mr. Zubaydah,” the decision stated. Julian Borger reports for The Guardian.
Newly released government photographs reveal key moments inside the White House during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Through Freedom of Information Act and Presidential Records Act requests, the Washington Post obtained more than 900 photos of the event, including images of former President Barack Obama watching the video feed of the raid and shaking hands with top officials. Nate Jones reports for the Washington Post.
North Korea has criticized the recent U.S.-South Korea agreement to strengthen Seoul’s defenses and regularly deploy U.S. strategic assets to the region, warning it would escalate tension to the “brink of a nuclear war.” State media KCNA reported on Monday that a summit held last week between President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, during which Biden promised to furnish Seoul with more insight into American nuclear planning over any conflict with North Korea, had put the peninsula in a “quagmire of instability.” A U.S. Navy nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine will also visit South Korea for the first time since the 1980s. “KCNA said the agreement stipulated the allies’ willingness to take ‘the most hostile and aggressive action’ against North Korea, citing Choe Ju Hyon, whom it described as an international security analyst,” Reuters reports.
Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Hussein al-Qurashi was killed in Syria by Turkish forces this weekend, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday. IS selected al-Qurashi as its leader in November after its previous leader was killed in an operation in southern Syria. “Syrian local and security sources said the raid took place in the northern Syrian town of Jandaris, which is controlled by Turkey-backed rebel groups…One resident said clashes started on the edge of Jandaris overnight from Saturday into Sunday, lasting for about an hour before residents heard a large explosion,” Reuters reports.
Eight tons of medical aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross landed in Sudan on Sunday. While many foreign nationals have been evacuated and thousands of local families fled for the city of Shendi, those remaining in Khartoum face shortages of food, water, medicine, and electricity. Mitchell McCluskey, Eyad Kourdi, Heather Chen and journalists in Sudan report for CNN.
Sudan’s health care system is facing the risk of total collapse. Health care services continue to deteriorate in the capital Khartoum, as fighting enters its third week. The Sudan Doctors’ Trade Union warned that the system could completely collapse within days. Lynsey Chutel reports for the New York Times.
Russia vowed retaliation after Polish authorities seized the Russian Embassy School in Warsaw, asking employees to leave the campus premises. Russia’s Foreign Ministry described the action as “controversial, illegal and provocative,” while Polish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lukasz Jasina said the property “belongs to the Polish state and was taken by Russia illegally.” The school will continue operating from a different part of the Russian embassy. Xiaofei Xu and Darya Tarasova report for CNN.