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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
WAGNER ARMED ACTION
Russian President Vladimir Putin may still seek retribution against Yevgeny Prighozin, the director of the CIA, William Burns, said. Putin is likely to be trying to buy time as he works out how best to deal with the leader of the paramilitary organization Wagner group, Burns added. Gordon Corera reports for BBC News.
Poland’s military will move troops to the country’s east due to the paramilitary organization Wagner group’s presence in Belarus, Poland’s security committee decided in a meeting on Wednesday. The move came a day before the Belarusian defense ministry said Wagner troops had begun training Belarusian special forces a few miles from the border. Reuters reports.
The White House has warned that the Kremlin mined sea routes in the Black Sea and might be planning a false-flag attack on commercial transport ships. The warning comes just after Russia imposed a blockade in the Black Sea and threatened it might view commercial ships bound for Ukraine as military targets. Ukraine yesterday made the same threat to commercial ships bound for territory occupied by Russia. Michael D. Shear, Neil MacFarquhar, and James C. McKinley Jr. report for the New York Times.
Ukraine has begun firing U.S.-provided cluster munitions against Russian forces in southeastern Ukraine. It is hoped that the munitions can eliminate well-fortified Russian positions that have slowed Ukraine’s counter-offensive. John Hudson and Isabelle Khurshudyan report for the Washington Post.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) has still not been granted access to inspect the rooftops of the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said yesterday. The I.A.E.A. seeks access to the rooftops to investigate competing accusations that Russia or Ukraine are planning an attack on the facility. Francois Murphy reports for Reuters.
Western weapons and equipment intended for Ukrainian troops were stolen by criminals, volunteer fighters, and arms traffickers in Ukraine last year before being recovered by Ukraine’s intelligence services, according to a U.S. Defense Department inspector general report. Natasha Bertrand and Haley Britzky report for CNN.
China seeks access to Afghanistan’s lithium and other mineral deposits that might be worth $1 trillion. If the Taliban remains ostracized by the West, Afghanistan may fall into China’s orbit, providing China with a strategic advantage over the United States. Gerry Shih and Lorenzo Tugnoli report for the Washington Post.
The Israeli Defense Forces have threatened to arrest reservists who have pledged not to report for duty as part of protests at the government’s planned judicial overhaul. While the military has not formally provided figures, Army Radio, managed by the Defence Ministry, said “a few hundred” reservists have made the pledge. Dan Williams reports for Reuters.
The Iraqi government has ordered the Swedish ambassador to leave as a diplomatic dispute over the burning of a Quran in Stockholm intensifies. Baghdad also recalled its charge d’affaires in Sweden and halted all business with Swedish companies. Nadine Yousif reports for BBC News.
U.S. RELATIONS – NORTH KOREA
Travis King, the U.S. soldier who dashed across the border from South Korea, “may not have been thinking clearly,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said yesterday. “He is a young soldier, he was facing consequences. I imagine he had a lot of negative feelings,” Wormuth suggested. “What we want to do is get that soldier back into our custody. I worry about him, frankly,” she added. Alexander Ward reports for POLITICO.
North Korea threatened possible nuclear retaliation yesterday over the U.S. military docking one of its nuclear submarines, the USS Kentucky, in South Korea. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA
China’s enthusiastic reception of Henry A. Kissinger, the 100-year-old former secretary of state, demonstrates Beijing’s effort to reach outside official diplomatic channels to influence Washington’s thinking. Kissinger met with the Chinese defense minister, even as he rebuffed multiple requests to engage with his U.S. counterpart. Kissinger, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk have had high-profile meetings with the Chinese leadership as Republicans and Democrats are increasingly united in their tough approach to China. David Pierson, Vivian Wang, and Edward Wong report for the New York Times.
Hackers linked to China have accessed the email account of Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to China, in a cyber-espionage attack believed to have compromised hundreds of thousands of individual unclassified U.S. government emails. While specifics remain unclear, the attack could have given the hackers insights into U.S. planning for recent diplomatic efforts by senior Biden administration officials and internal conversations about U.S. policies toward China. Dustin Volz and Warren P. Strobel report for the Wall Street Journal.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – JAN. 6 ATTACK
District Court Judge Royce Lamberth yesterday rejected Jacob Chansley’s bid to throw out his conviction by citing footage aired in February by then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Chansley, known as the “QAnon shaman,” attempted to rely on Carlson’s footage showing him walking around the Capitol with little resistance from the police, even though it did not show Chansley getting into the Capitol or of the moments that featured prominently in his indictment and guilty plea. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.
Federico G. Klein, an ex-State Department appointee of former President Trump with top secret clearance, was found guilty yesterday of joining assaults on police during the Jan. 6 attack. Klein was convicted on all counts, including ten felony charges involving six violent confrontations with multiple police officers and obstruction of the electoral vote count. Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, yesterday denied charges of antisemitism and told lawmakers of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government that he was the victim of censorship by social media and Democrats. During his long-shot campaign, Kennedy promoted several conspiracy theories and drew accusations of antisemitism and racism with comments asserting that the virus was “targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people” while sparing Chinese people and Ashkenazi Jews. Aaron Zitner reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Data from 30 U.S. cities show that through the first half of this year, there were 202 fewer homicides, a drop of more than 9 percent compared with 2022. While homicides have dropped below the pandemic surge, they remain well above pre-pandemic levels, a Council on Criminal Justice report shows.
Generative artificial intelligence will likely pose a significant threat in the 2024 presidential election, warned Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh yesterday, President Biden’s pick to lead the NSA and Cyber Command. Maggie Miller reports for POLITICO.
New York City agreed to pay $13.7 million to more than 1,300 protestors arrested or assaulted by the police during the George Floyd demonstrations in 2020. Each protestor would receive at least $9,950 in the settlement, which a judge has yet to approve. The proposed settlement is among the largest a city would pay to settle lawsuits over police behavior at the George Floyd demonstrations. Alyssa Lukpat reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) yesterday released an internal FBI document containing unverified allegations that President Biden was involved in an illegal foreign bribery scheme. Republicans have been pushing for the FBI to publicly release the document seen by the House Oversight Committee, which the FBI has declined. Grassley said he was able to release the document because of “legally protected disclosures by Justice Department whistleblowers.” Annie Grayer, Marshall Cohen, and Jeremy Herb report for CNN.
House Republicans are privately warning House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)that they are concerned there will be no significant spending cuts in the coming appropriations bills. Many Republican lawmakers doubted that Congress would pass all 12 appropriations bills by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown. Juliegrace Brufke reports for Axios.