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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said yesterday that the number of migrants encountered crossing the southern U.S. border has dropped by half since Tile 42 ended. However, Mayorkas cautioned that it is “too early” to tell whether the migrant surge has peaked. Summer Concepcion reports for NBC News.
Jack Teixeira, the alleged leaker of intelligence reports on Discord, was preparing for a “race war.” “[Teixeira] did call himself racist multiple times,” a friend said in an interview. Filings by federal prosecutors show that Teixeira had amassed a small arsenal of rifles, shotguns, and pistols, as well as a helmet, gas mask, and night-vision goggles. Shane Harris, Samuel Oakford, and Chris Dehghanpoor report for the Washington Post.
President Biden declared on Saturday that white supremacy is “the most dangerous terrorist threat to our homeland” as he gave the commencement address at Howard University, the nation’s most prestigious historically Black college. Biden alluded to former President Trump’s past statements to link him to racist elements in American society. Biden will have to shore up support among Black voters as strategists have expressed concern about an enthusiasm gap that could complicate his prospects for re-election. Peter Baker and Zolan Kanno-Youngs report for the New York Times.
As mass shootings continue to gain national attention, assault weapons bans have gained momentum in Democratic-controlled states. 10 states, all heavily Democratic, now have an assault weapons ban. “This is now an electorally winning issue,” said Democrat Jay Inslee, governor of Washington. Zusha Elinson reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Generative Artificial Intelligence could mislead voters, impersonate candidates, and undermine elections on a scale and at speeds not seen, according to experts. “We’re not prepared for this,” warned A.J. Nash, vice president of intelligence at the cybersecurity firm ZeroFox. “The big leap forward is the audio and video capabilities that have emerged … it’s going to have a major impact,” Nash added. David Klepper and Ali Swenson report for AP News.
U.S. Special Operations forces are not required to vet for past human rights violations by the foreign troops they arm and train as surrogates, newly disclosed documents show. The United States increasingly relies on deputizing local partner forces in places like Niger and Somalia instead of deploying large numbers of U.S. troops. Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt report for the New York Times.
U.S. ambassador, Reuben Brigety, has “apologized unreservedly” for claiming South Africa sold weapons to Russia, South Africa’s foreign ministry said. On Thursday, Brigety alleged a Russian ship was loaded with ammunition and weapons in Cape Town last December. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered an inquiry into the alleged incident. Pumza Fihlani reports for BBC News.
The Group of Seven (G7) this week is expected to make a joint statement rejecting the use of economic retaliation against nations over policy disputes and other disagreements in a veiled criticism of China’s recent policies. The joint statement will be made during the G7 summit in Japan and comes as concerns mount over Beijing’s increasing use of what its critics call “economic coercion” to show its displeasure with other countries. Annie Linskey, Ken Thomas, and Yuka Hayashi report for the Wall Street Journal.
China sentenced a 78-year-old United States citizen, John Shing-Wan Leung, to life in prison today on spying charges. Leung was detained on Apr. 15, 2021, by the local bureau of China’s counterintelligence agency in the southeastern city of Suzhou. Details of the charges against Leung, who holds permanent residency in Hong Kong, have not been publicly released. AP News reports.
The U.S. military is working with allies to send more ships and aircraft to the Middle East as Iran escalates its seizures of merchant tankers, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby announced on Friday. Over the past two years, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has attacked or disrupted 15 tankers as tensions between Iran and the United States grow over Iran’s nuclear program. Ari Hawkins reports for POLITICO.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – DISCORD LEAKS
Yevgeniy Prigozhin, chief of the paramilitary organization Wagner group, offered to give Kyiv information on Russian troop positions if Ukraine’s commanders withdrew their soldiers from the area around Bakhmut. Prigozhin conveyed the proposal to his contacts in Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, with whom he has maintained secret communications during the war. One official said that Kyiv rejected the offer because it was thought Prigozhin’s proposals could have been disingenuous. Shane Harris and Isabelle Khurshudyan report for the Washington Post.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has proposed occupying Russian villages to gain leverage over Moscow, bombing a pipeline that transfers Russian oil to Hungary, and privately wishing to hit targets inside Russia’s borders, according to classified U.S. intelligence documents gleaned through intercepted digital communications. Zelenskyy has dismissed the U.S. intelligence claims as “fantasies” but defended his right to use unconventional tactics to defend Ukraine. Zelenskyy has gained the backing of Western governments, in part, by refusing to use Western weapons for attacks inside Russia. John Hudson and Isabelle Khurshudyan report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – WESTERN RESPONSE
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in the United Kingdom today after securing new commitments from Berlin and Paris for military aid and support during his tour of Western European countries. Germany almost doubled its military commitment to $2.95 billion. France has agreed to train and equip several Ukrainian battalions with tens of armored vehicles and light tanks. Annabelle Timsit and Rachel Pannett report for the Washington Post.
Discussions have intensified among NATO members about Ukraine’s accession into the alliance as the next NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, looms. Member states are scrambling to bridge divisions over how quickly Kyiv should enter the alliance, as eastern members are pushing for concrete steps to accession. In contrast, western members seek a mere bureaucratic upgrade. Missy Ryan and Emily Rauhala report for the Washington Post.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Two Russian commanders, Col. Vyacheslav Makarov, and his deputy Col. Yevgeny Brovko were killed near Bakhmut over the weekend. The killings come amid continued Ukrainian counterattacks on the outskirts of Bakhmut. Russian forces also launched a wave of drones and missiles at Ukraine over the weekend. Ian Lovett and Thomas Grove report for the Wall Street Journal.
At least two Russian combat aircraft and two helicopters crashed over the weekend within Russian territory and may have been shot down, unconfirmed reports suggest. Ukraine has not confirmed that its air defenses were involved in the downing of the aircraft. On Saturday, Daniil Bezsonov, a Russian military blogger, said, “The enemy most likely acted from an ambush by its air defense forces … So the enemy most likely knew the route and time of our air group’s departure.” Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko report for CNN.
Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, begins a tour of Russia, Ukraine, and other European nations today to discuss a “political settlement” to the Ukraine crisis. Reuters reports.
A cease-fire between Israeli forces and militants in the Gaza Strip appeared to hold yesterday after a five-day clash that killed 33 Palestinians and two people in Israel. POLITICO reports.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks to be heading for a runoff with opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu after he failed to win a majority of the vote over the weekend. According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, with the unofficial count nearly completed, Erdogan received 49.4 percent of the vote to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.8 percent. Ben Hubbard and Gulsin Harman report for the New York Times.
The Philippines has placed navigational buoys within its exclusive economic zone to assert sovereignty over the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard said yesterday. The step comes amid China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea. Beijing has deployed hundreds of coast guard and fishing vessels in disputed areas for years. Reuters reports.
Thailand’s opposition secured a huge election victory yesterday after crushing parties allied with the military. Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat report for Reuters.