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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 – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump has claimed the “secret” documents he referred to on tape were only newspaper clippings. A recording was made during Trump’s conversation with a writer and publisher in July 2021. According to the transcript, Trump declares that “as president, I could have declassified it,” adding, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.” Maggie Haberman, Alan Feuer, and Jonathan Swan report for the New York Times.
Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart yesterday ordered defense lawyers for former President Trump not to release evidence in the classified documents case to the media or the public, according to a court filing. Reinhart also put strict conditions on Trump’s access to the materials. Douglas Gillison and Kanishka Singh report for Reuters.
The FBI resisted investigating former President Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack for over a year. A wariness about seeming partisan, institutional caution, and disagreements over the necessary evidential threshold needed to investigate the actions of Trump and those around him all contributed to the slow pace. Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis report for the Washington Post.
Former President Trump said he had been too “busy” to hand over the boxes containing classified materials to the National Archives and Records Administration. Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A House Appropriations Committee bill would end the Defense Department’s practice of releasing summaries of the service records of members of the U.S. military to the public. Republicans are trying to prohibit funds from being used to release personal information about current and former service members without their consent. News organizations and some employers have used this information to verify people’s military service. Courtney Kube reports for NBC News.
Twitter’s decision to charge over $500,000 annually for a once-free tool to analyze posts is impeding disinformation and war crimes research, according to experts and nonprofit groups. It could also slow rescue efforts during natural disasters. Louisa Loveluck reports for the Washington Post.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA
China and Cuba are negotiating to establish a new joint military training facility on the island, according to current and former U.S. officials. Discussions for the facility on Cuba’s northern coast are at an advanced stage but not concluded, U.S. intelligence reports suggest. The planned facility is part of China’s “Project 141,” an initiative by the People’s Liberation Army to extend its global network of military bases. Warren P. Strobel, Gordon Lubold, Vivian Salama, and Michael R. Gordon report for the Wall Street Journal.
President Xi Jinping hailed “progress” and spoke of “agreements on specific issues” after meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing yesterday. While Blinken welcomed the reopening of high-level communication, he also admitted that there were “many issues on which we profoundly – even vehemently – disagree.” Nonetheless, the talks are likely to cause relief in a tense region. According to a recent survey by the Eurasia Group Foundation, more than 90% of respondents in South Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore are “worried” about a confrontation between the United States and China. Laura Bicker reports for BBC News.
U.S. RELATIONS – INDIA
The United States is expected to give India access to critical U.S. technologies that Washington rarely shares with non-allies during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit this week. The United States is looking to supplant Russia as India’s defense partner. India is looking to the West amid its military tensions and fraying ties with China. Krishn Kaushik, Sarita Chaganti Singh and David Brunnstrom report for Reuters.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “there is an unprecedented trust” between New Delhi and Washington as he embarks on a trip to the United States this week. Rajesh Roy, Brendan Moran, and Gordon Fairclough report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE
Even as there is no sign the Chinese government is sending lethal aid to Russia, the United States is worried that private Chinese companies will provide matériel and technology that Moscow’s military could use in Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday. Blinken’s comment marks a change in emphasis compared to recent months. Blinken had previously said that the Chinese government was considering sending lethal aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
President Biden has said the threat of Russian president Vladimir Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons is “real.” Biden’s comment comes days after denouncing Russia’s deployment of such weapons in Belarus. Martin Belam and Helen Livingstone report for the Guardian.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Alexei Navalny faces multiple charges, including creating an extremist organization and financing extremist activities, that could add decades to his nine-year prison term. The trial is being held behind closed doors. Navalny says investigators told him to expect another case related to terrorism charges. Steve Rosenberg reports for BBC News.
Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ordered weapons have yet to be delivered to Ukraine. As of early this spring, hundreds of millions had been paid to defense contractors for arms that never materialized, one person involved in Ukraine’s arms purchasing said. Some of the much-publicized arms donated by Ukraine’s allies have been so damaged that they have only been used for spare parts. As much as 30 percent of Kyiv’s weapons stocks are under repair at any given time. Justin Scheck and Lara Jakes report for the New York Times.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – EUROPE
The Moldovan Constitutional Court has ordered the immediate dissolution of Sor, a pro-Russian political party. In March, Moldova’s police chief warned that Russian intelligence agencies had been using protests organized by Sor to destabilize the country. BBC News reports.
Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and China’s premier, Li Qiang, will relaunch consultations today after a three-year suspension. Germany views China as one of its most important economic partners but also a “systemic rival” and will therefore try to shield its critical technologies and encourage its businesses to diversify away from Beijing. China will try to convince Germany, its largest European trading partner, to stick to business as usual, pulling Germany away from the United States. Erika Solomon and Nicole Hong report for the New York Times.
Germany’s armed forces only have around 20,000 high-explosive artillery shells left, according to confidential defense ministry papers prepared to convince the budget committee of the need for urgent purchases. Germany has sent much of its stocks to Ukraine. Germany’s military needs to build up an inventory of some 230,000 shells by 2031 to comply with NATO goals to have enough artillery to withstand 30 days of intensive combat. Reuters reports
Spain’s far-right Vox party has taken office in several Spanish cities and a powerful region over the weekend. Vox’s electoral success comes after it forged a coalition agreement with the moderate right. The coalition may foreshadow a broader alliance to govern the country after next month’s general elections. Constant Méheut reports for the New York Times.
Greek authorities came under more pressure yesterday as new accusations of negligence surfaced over the coast guard’s handling of the maritime incident in which hundreds are still missing. Experts say the Greek authorities violated maritime law by not assisting the boat earlier. Jason Horowitz, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, and Niki Kitsantonis report for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said Sudan has descended into “death and destruction” at an unprecedented speed. “Without strong international support, Sudan could quickly become a locus of lawlessness, radiating insecurity across the region,” Guterres added. Richard Hamilton reports for BBC News.
The treatment of Afghan women and girls by the Taliban could amount to “gender apartheid,” U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday. The U.N. defines gender apartheid as “economic and social sexual discrimination against individuals because of their gender or sex.” Reuters reports.