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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.
WAGNER ARMED ACTION
Chief of the paramilitary organization Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, arrived in Belarus yesterday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has confirmed. Lukashenko said that Wagner could help the Belarusian military by sharing their experience, tactics, and weapons. NATO members Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania have warned that Wagner’s arrival in Belarus could spell trouble for them. Paul Kirby reports for BBC News.
Russia’s domestic intelligence agency yesterday said it was dropping “armed mutiny” criminal charges against Yevgeny Prigozhin and members of his paramilitary organization Wagner group. The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the mercenary group’s fighters were preparing to hand over military equipment to the army. Valerie Hopkins reports for the New York Times.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko yesterday said he stopped Russian President Vladimir Putin from making a “harsh decision.” His assertion suggests that Putin planned to kill Yevgeny Prigozhin. Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina report for the Washington Post.
General Sergei Surovikin, the former top Russian commander in Ukraine, knew of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans for armed action against Russia’s military leadership, according to U.S. officials. This revelation has prompted questions about what support Prigozhin had inside Russia’s leadership. U.S. officials also said other Russian generals may have supported Prigozhin’s attempt to change the leadership of the Defense Ministry by force. Julian E. Barnes, Helene Cooper, and Eric Schmitt report for the New York Times.
WAGNER ARMED ACTION – U.S. RESPONSE
The armed action in Russia may increase the bipartisan pressure to spend more on aid to Ukraine, even if that means breaking the debt limit deal that capped defense funding at the administration’s request of $886 billion. Bipartisan support for further arming Kyiv runs deep in Congress. However, there are vocal conservatives, and some progressives, that oppose more U.S. aid. Joe Gould, Connor O’Brien, Lee Hudson, and Paul Mcleary report for POLITICO.
Ukrainian forces are “highly likely” to have recaptured land in the country’s eastern Donbas region, occupied by Russia since 2014, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said yesterday. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country’s counter-offensive was advancing on all fronts. Alys Davies reports for BBC News.
Russian forces executed 77 civilians they had arbitrarily detained during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while another male detainee died from torture, inhumane conditions, and denial of medical care, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 864 individual cases of arbitrary detention by Russia have been recorded since it launched its invasion. Ukraine also violated international law by detaining civilians, though on a much smaller scale. The OHCHR reports.
A Russian missile struck a restaurant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk yesterday, killing at least four people and injuring more than 40 others, according to Ukrainian officials. Cassandra Vinograd and Thomas Gibbons-Neff report for the New York Times.
Americans’ view of China today shows similarities with the hostility, pessimism, and militarism in Americans’ views of the Soviet Union during the late 1940s, just before the Cold War, polls show. These polls suggest that easing the rising tensions between the two powers may be difficult for President Biden. Ian Prasad Philbrick reports for the New York Times.
The Biden administration is considering new restrictions on exports of artificial intelligence chips to China. The Commerce Department may impose restrictions as soon as early July to stop shipments to customers in China and other countries of concern without first obtaining a license. Asa Fitch, Yuka Hayashi, and John D. McKinnon report for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Global confidence in President Biden is higher than it was for then-President Trump, according to Pew research data.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – JAN. 6 ATTACK
The FBI and other agencies failed “at a fundamental level” to assess the potential for violence ahead of the Jan. 6 attack, a new report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs claims. Democrats on the Senate panel found that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “downplayed” the risks of violence and consequently failed to prepare appropriately. Read the report titled Planned in Plain Sight, released yesterday.
Rudy Giuliani, who sought to overturn 2020 presidential election results in certain states, was interviewed recently by investigators with the Justice Department special counsel’s office. A person familiar with the matter said the interview was not done before a grand jury. Eric Tucker reports for AP News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
District Judge Alvin Hellerstein is skeptical of Trump’s argument that the hush money payments case should be tried in federal court, indicating that he is poised to reject Trump’s effort. “Cohen was hired as a private matter to take care of a private matter … The fact that it was a president who made that private hiring does not change the facts or the legal principle to be derived from the facts,” Hellerstein said. Hellerstein has said he plans to issue a decision within two weeks. Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell, and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn report for CNN.
Federal magistrate judge Edwin Torres pushed back yesterday’s scheduled arraignment of Walt Nauta, former President Trump’s valet, until Jul. 6, following a canceled flight and Nauta’s inability to find a Florida-based attorney. Adriana Gomez Licon and Eric Tucker report for AP News.
Former President Trump sued E. Jean Carroll for defamation yesterday, alleging she falsely accused him of rape. Trump’s counterclaim comes after a jury found that Trump sexually abused and defamed but did not rape Carroll. Jack Queen reports for Reuters.
An appeals court dismissed Ivanka Trump from a civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against former President Trump, his business, and some family members. The court ruled yesterday that the claims against Ivanka Trump were outdated. Jacob Knutson reports for Axios.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled against Republican state legislators and their “independent state legislature” doctrine that could have handed sweeping power to states to establish rules for presidential and congressional elections and draft electoral maps. Andrew Chung reports for Reuters.
Armed police officers have been redeployed for the final weeks of school in Denver. The moves follow bouts of violence affecting Denver city schools and as national gun violence soars. Armed school police were dismissed in 2020 after protests against law enforcement following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Tim Arango reports for the New York Times.
Four people in Florida and one in Texas contracted malaria, marking the first time since 2003 that the disease has been caught within the United States, federal health officials said this week. Increased international travel could drive up cases of imported malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. About 2,000 malaria cases were reported annually in the United States before the COVID-19 pandemic. Joseph De Avila reports for the Wall Street Journal.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – SUDAN
A unilateral ceasefire declared by the head of Sudan’s RSF paramilitary, “Hemedti,” came into effect yesterday for the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha, which starts today. Cat Wiener reports for BBC News.
The U.N. refugee agency yesterday warned that an earlier projection that conflict in Sudan would prompt 1 million people to flee across its borders is likely an underestimate. Nearly 600,000 people have already escaped to neighboring countries. Emma Farge reports for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Israel seized digital funds worth millions of dollars that would have been used by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah and the foreign Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Defense Ministry said yesterday. Reuters reports.
The human rights chief, Jonas Grimheden, at the E.U.’s border agency, Frontex, last week said it could suspend operations in Greece over chronic rights abuses against migrants. The move would see dozens of border guards, vessels, and aircraft removed from a critical entry point into Europe. Monika Pronczuk reports for the New York Times.
Taiwan spotted two Russian frigates sailing in a northerly direction off Taiwan’s east coast yesterday and sent its aircraft and ships to keep watch, Taiwan’s defense ministry said. Reuters reports.