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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.
The investigation into Yevgeny Prigozhin, the exiled chief of the paramilitary organization Wagner group, remains open, according to Russian state media yesterday. These reports cast doubt over the deal purportedly struck between Prigozhin and the Kremlin that saw Prigozhin end his armed action in exchange for a dropping of any charges and permission to exile in Belarus. Andrew Osborn reports for Reuters.
The Kremlin yesterday said that Ukraine is preparing an attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-occupied territory. Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged allegations that a false-flag attack is looming. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said, “The threat of sabotage by the Kyiv regime is high,” though he provided no evidence. Fredrick Kunkle, Francesca Ebel, and Natalia Abbakumova reports for the Washington Post.
At least four people have been killed and 32 injured in a Russian rocket strike on an apartment building in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, which the mayor said was “one of the biggest attacks” on civilian infrastructure in the city. Jaroslav Lukiv reports for BBC News.
Ukraine’s military launched a strike on the Russian-occupied city of Makiivka on Tuesday night, hitting what appeared to be an arms depot that sparked a large explosion. Russian media said that civilian targets were struck. Makiivka is a symbolic location as it is where Ukraine dealt the heaviest blow to Russian forces; a single Ukrainian strike in January killed at least 63 Russian soldiers — and possibly hundreds more. The strike demonstrates Ukraine’s offensive capability amid only slow gains on the frontline. Cassandra Vinograd reports for the New York Times.
Russia yesterday opened a criminal investigation into a brutal attack by masked men in Chechnya on the Russian journalist Yelena Milashina and lawyer Alexander Nemov. For years Milashina has been investigating alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya and received many threats before, including to her life. Andrew Osborn and Maxim Rodionov report for Reuters.
The Kremlin yesterday denied that Chinese President Xi Jinping had personally warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. It was previously reported that Xi delivered the message when he visited Moscow in March. China has publicly expressed opposition to any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. This development comes as several Kremlin-linked analysts have supported a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Europe. Pjotr Sauer reports for the Guardian.
Poland and Hungary were rebuked by the E.U. Commission yesterday for democratic deficiencies identified in the E.U.’s annual rule of law report. The report raises “serious concerns” over the independence of Poland’s courts and judges and says “there are legitimate doubts as to its independence.” While less critical of Hungary, the report said corruption remained an issue. Raf Casert reports for AP News.
Patrick Gordon Macdonald, an Ottawa man, is facing terrorism-related charges after being accused of facilitating recruitment videos for the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, the Royal Mounted Canadian Police said yesterday. This case marks the first time in Canadian history that a person advocating a violent far-right ideology has been charged with terrorism and hate propaganda. Atomwaffen Division’s founder and an associate were charged this year in the United States after being accused of planning to attack Baltimore’s power grid. Jasper Ward reports for Reuters.
Tel Aviv District Police Commander Ami Eshed said he was quitting the force yesterday due to political intervention by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right cabinet members, whom he said wanted excessive force used against anti-government protesters. Eshad said “the ministerial echelon” had broken all rules and had blatantly interfered in professional decision-making. Hundreds of protestors took to the streets following Eshad’s announcement. Maayan Lubell reports for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Further details of an affidavit the FBI used to obtain a warrant to search former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence were revealed yesterday. The unredacted details reveal new evidence of surveillance footage seemingly showing Trump aide Walt Nauta moving boxes in May and June before Justice Department investigators visited the property. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said that a specific portion of the document must remain under seal as it “identifies investigative steps that have not yet been made public.” Devlin Barrett reports for the Washington Post.
Former President Trump aide Walt Nauta is set to return to the Florida court today for his arraignment that was previously postponed due to his inability to find a lawyer and a delayed flight. Adriana Gomez Licor and Eric Tucker report for AP News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – DISCORD LEAKS
The Pentagon will improve accountability measures relating to handling classified national security information after National Guardsman Jack Teixeira allegedly leaked military secrets on Discord earlier this year. There was no systematic failure and no need for drastic changes to how the Pentagon safeguards classified information, according to a review made public yesterday. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed Department of Defense officials to “validate” that their personnel have a continuing need to access sensitive information and ensure that those personnel have a valid non-disclosure agreement on file by Sept. 30. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.
The Pentagon warned against an “overcorrection” in response to the Discord leaks. The Pentagon review’s conclusion that there was “no single point of failure” and recommendation of only minor procedural changes appeared to lack the urgency of some bipartisan lawmakers in Congress who have criticized U.S. agencies for repeatedly failing to prevent significant leaks. Dustin Volz reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Conspiracy theories are expected to be used as a defense in today’s trial of Alan Hostetter, a former police chief, who is charged with conspiracy and obstruction in relation to the Jan. 6 attack. Hostetter has said his defense will be based on assertions that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump and that the assault on the Capitol was staged by “federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.” Prosecutors have warned that proceedings could have a “circuslike atmosphere.” Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times.
Taylor Taranto, the Navy veteran arrested near former President Obama’s house carrying guns, recently recorded himself making threatening remarks regarding House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-MD), prosecutors said yesterday. Taranto also threatened a federal facility housing a nuclear research reactor in suburban Maryland. Taranto, a QAnon conspiracy theorist, showed up near Obama’s home shortly after former President Trump posted what he claimed was Obama’s address on his social media platform. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui will hear arguments today on Taranto’s pre-trial detention. Spencer S. Hsu reports for the Washington Post.
President Biden and the prime minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, met at the White House yesterday, as both leaders redoubled efforts to persuade opponents to allow Sweden to join NATO. Biden said he is “anxiously looking forward to [Sweden’s] membership” in NATO. However, high-level talks held last month in Turkey – the primary opponent of Sweden’s NATO bid – yielded no apparent progress toward approving Sweden’s application. Maggie Astor and Katie Rogers report for the New York Times.
Leading Republicans in Congress, as well as former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are coalescing around a plan to use the U.S. military to address drug trafficking in Mexico. In an NBC poll in late June, sending troops to the border to stop drugs was the single best-liked of 11 Republican proposals tested with primary voters. Furthermore, it was the only plan that gained support from most registered voters. Michelle Hackman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. Navy prevented Iranian forces from seizing two merchant tankers in the Gulf of Oman yesterday, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs said.
Russian jets disturbed U.S. drones conducting a mission against the self-styled ISIS militant group targets in Syria yesterday, a U.S. commanding officer said. Russian forces should “cease this reckless behavior and adhere to the standards of behavior expected of a professional air force so we can resume our focus on the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the commander of the Ninth Air Force and the Combined Forces Air Component for U.S. Central Command. Courtney Kube reports for NBC News.
Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian dual citizen and a graduate student at Princeton University, was captured by a Shiite militia while conducting doctoral research in Baghdad in March, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday. “…Tsurkov is still alive,” the prime minister’s office said, “and we hold Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being.” Israel identified Tsurkov’s captors as the Shiite militia Kataib Hezbollah, a militia closely affiliated with Iran. Mikhail Klimentov reports for the Washington Post.