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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – NATO
Turkey yesterday agreed to greenlight Sweden’s NATO bid. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to seek ratification in the parliament as soon as possible. In exchange for Turkey’s support, Sweden will continue to work bilaterally with Turkey against terrorism. Sweden will also help reinvigorate Turkey’s application to enter the E.U. NATO has agreed to establish a new “special coordinator for counterterrorism.” Ben Hubbard, Lara Jakes, and Steven Erlanger report for the New York Times.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said that the E.U. should unfreeze Turkey’s accession before Turkey’s parliament ratifies Sweden’s NATO bid. However, a European Commission spokesperson said NATO and E.U. enlargement are “separate processes,” adding that the two processes cannot be linked. Huseyin Hayatsever and Ece Toksabay report for Reuters.
Ukraine’s relationship with NATO will be a crucial issue at the Vilnius, Lithuania, summit beginning today. During the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, Ukraine, and Georgia were told membership was possible in the future, yet no clear path was set out. “We believe that it is long overdue to invite Ukraine to NATO,” said Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister. There is a widespread expectation that new weapons will be promised at the summit, as well as more ammunition supplies. Gordon Corera reports for BBC News.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – ISRAEL JUDICIAL OVERHAUL
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s parliamentary coalition today gave initial backing to a controversial bill to restrict the Supreme Court’s oversight powers. The reforms are comprised of several bills that would weaken the power of Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn legislation and government decisions. Mass protests are expected to reignite later today in response to the vote. AP News reports.
Israel is at risk of “going off the rails” with the rushed overhaul of its judicial system being voted on this week, the departing U.S. ambassador to Israel, Thomas Nides, said. The United States usually refrains from commenting on purely domestic Israeli affairs, but Nides said the overhaul raised questions about Israel’s democratic credentials and the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Dov Lieber and Michael Amon report for the Wall Street Journal.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – A.S.E.A.N.
The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will meet this week amid pressure to resolve tensions in the South China Sea, where some members have overlapping territorial claims with China. China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have made competing claims in the South China Sea, a key trade route. Indonesia hopes to accelerate talks on a long-stalled code of conduct on the South China Sea that would create rules to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight. Kate Lamb reports for Reuters.
China’s foreign minister Qin Gang will not attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting this week, extending an unexplained public absence of over two weeks. Top diplomat Wang Yi will represent China at the meetings instead. Qin has missed other meetings with foreign officials leading to speculation of health concerns. Yew Lun Tian and Karen Lema report for Reuters.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The European Commission has announced a pact with the United States to allow easier legal transfer of personal “necessary and proportionate” data between the E.U. and the United States. The deal ensures that Meta, Google, and other tech companies can continue sharing information with the United States. Yesterday’s pact aims to ease European concerns over personal information being shared with U.S. intelligence agencies. The agreement allows Europeans to make a claim to a newly created Data Protection Review Court if they suspect their data has been collected by U.S. intelligence. Chloe Kim reports for BBC News.
WAGNER ARMED ACTION
Yevgeny Prigozhin and his paramilitary organization Wagner group lieutenants met with Russian President Vladimir Putin days after the group’s failed armed action in Russia, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. The meeting is indicative of Wagner’s continued importance for Russian security. Peskov said Wagner unit commanders pledged fealty, saying “they are staunch supporters” of Putin. Matthew Luxmoore, Ann M. Simmons, and Georgi Kantchev report for the Wall Street Journal.
During their armed action, the paramilitary organization Wagner group forces sent a contingent of military vehicles to a fortified Russian army base with nuclear weapons, according to videos posted online and interviews with locals. Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said that the Wagner fighters reached the nuclear base intending to acquire Soviet-era nuclear devices to “raise the stakes” in their armed action. Budanov said the Wagner fighters could not enter the facility housing nuclear weapons. Budanov’s assertions could not be independently verified. Reuters reports.
House Oversight Committee Republicans are calling for scrutiny of Department of Defense accounting errors that allow the United States to send another $6.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine. The error “raises more concerns about DOD’s ability to protect taxpayer funds.” Andrew Solender reports for Axios.
President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged their support for Ukraine before the NATO summit. “Couldn’t be meeting with a closer friend and a greater ally,” Biden said yesterday while sitting next to Sunak. These demonstrations of unity come as the NATO summit in Lithuania is expected to divide members, particularly on the questions of Ukraine’s NATO bid and cluster munitions. Toluse Olorunnipa and William Booth report for the Washington Post.
Nearly 50,000 Russian soldiers died in the war in Ukraine so far, according to the first independent statistical analysis of Russian war fatalities. Russia has publicly acknowledged the deaths of just over 6,000 soldiers. Erika Kinetz reports for AP News.
Israeli ministers have criticized President Biden after he said their government contained “some of the most extreme” members he had ever seen. Biden also said that the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the occupied West Bank, had “lost its credibility” and “created a vacuum for extremism among the Palestinians.” David Gritten reports for BBC News.
President Biden began his four-day trip to Europe yesterday with meetings with U.K Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III. The U.S.-U.K. relationship was described as “rock solid,” as they discussed economic cooperation, climate change, and security issues. Andrew Restuccia and Paul Hannon report for the Wall Street Journal.
Gal Luft, the co-director of the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, has been charged with acting as a Chinese agent and attempting to broker the sale of weapons and Iranian oil. Federal prosecutors say that Luft, a U.S., and Israeli citizen, “agreed to covertly recruit and pay” an unnamed ex-U.S. official to support specific Chinese policies publicly. Luft also allegedly attempted to broker arms sales involving customers in China, Libya, the U.A.E., and Kenya. Luft is considered a fugitive after he was arrested in Cyprus on U.S. charges on Feb. 17 this year and fled after being released on bail pending extradition. Max Matza reports for BBC News.
David C. Weiss, the federal prosecutor who led the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden, yesterday disputed testimony to Congress by I.R.S. agent Gary Shapley, who said that Weiss asked Justice Department officials to give him special counsel status. Weiss, appointed to the role by former President Trump, clarified that he had spoken about the possibility of requesting status as a special attorney, not as a special counsel. Glenn Thrush reports for the New York Times.
Former President Trump yesterday asked for a delay in the trial concerning his handling of classified documents until after the 2024 election. Trump contends that proceeding with the trial while he remains a presidential candidate would make it impossible to find an impartial jury. Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO.
Over half of the current Joint Chiefs are due to step down during the next few months without a Senate-approved successor due to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade on promotions in the military. Tuberville is blocking promotions in response to the Pentagon policy ensuring abortion access for service members. Over the next few months, the staff chiefs of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force, as well as Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs, will step down. Haley Britzky reports for CNN.
The U.S. Air Force suspended personnel moves and bonuses for this fiscal year as the service encounters a funding shortfall driven by high costs, according to a statement yesterday. While funding shortfalls are not uncommon, they usually only lead to fewer flight hours. Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
House Republicans are working on new legislation to prevent foreign nationals from influencing America’s political process. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), chair of the House Administration Committee, is introducing legislation to ban 501(c)(4) organizations, which are tax-exempt groups that can engage in general issue advocacy and support state ballot initiatives, from contributing to political committees for four years if they accept foreign donations. The move draws attention to foreign donations to Democrat-aligned and progressive nonprofit organizations. Hans Nichols and Stef W. Kight report for Axios.
The United States has destroyed the last of its chemical weapons stockpiles, the Pentagon confirmed yesterday. Alex Horton reports for the Washington Post.
Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall last week dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit brought by three survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre who sought reparations for the attack in the city’s Greenwood district. Lawyers representing the survivors plan to appeal the decision. As many as 300 people were killed during the massacre. Thirty-five blocks were leveled, and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed. Arian Campo-Flores and Jennifer Calfas report for the Wall Street Journal.