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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The maximum age for Russian military conscription has been raised from 27 to 30, the Russian Parliament voted yesterday, as it seeks to expand the army. Russian President Vladimir Putin promised that conscripts serving for a year would not be sent to Ukraine, yet many are deployed along the border and could be sent to battle. The move indicates a planned “protracted war of attrition,” said Dmitri Kuznets, who analyzes the war for Meduza, an independent Russian news website. Whet Moser and Natasha Frost report for the New York Times.
The Pentagon announced an additional $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine yesterday. Kelly Kasulis Cho, Jennifer Hassan, and Eve Sampson report for the Washington Post.
While Russian forces are primarily on the defensive along the 600-mile front in eastern and southern Ukraine, they are on the offensive along a 60-mile front in northeastern Ukraine. Marc Santora and Finbarr O’Reilly report for the New York Times.
PARAMILITARY ORGANIZATION WAGNER GROUP
Three Malian government and military officials have been sanctioned for facilitating the deployment and expansion of the paramilitary organization Wagner group activities in Mali, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced yesterday.
The U.K. government “under-played and under-estimated the Wagner Network’s activities, as well as the security implications for Europe,” the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee has reported. Wagner’s military activity has been detected in Ukraine, Syria, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, and Mali. The group is accused of killing civilians. The matter has become more urgent since up to 10,000 Wagner fighters have set up base in Belarus while rhetorically announcing their desire to make a cross-border raid into Poland. Frank Gardner reports for BBC News.
China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang was abruptly replaced by his predecessor Wang Yi yesterday. The ousting comes after weeks of questions and speculation about Qin’s future after he disappeared from public view last month. All of Qin’s activities during his six-month tenure as Foreign Minister have been erased from public record. Qin’s whereabouts, the reason for his removal, and future remain uncertain. Simone McCarthy reports for CNN.
Israeli doctors have gone on strike, the stock market and currency sank, and protesters vowed to keep up mass demonstrations in response to the judicial overhaul that passed in the Knesset on Monday. In a move that could spark a constitutional crisis, petitions were also filed to the high court asking it to strike down the law. Dov Lieber reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Russia endeavors to strengthen ties with Asian allies as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu joins a Chinese delegation at a celebration in North Korea this week, and President Vladimir Putin plans to travel to a conference in China. Shoigu joins a Chinese delegation in Pyongyang to mark “Victory Day,” the 70th anniversary of what the North considers its victory in the Korean War. In October, Putin will meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to discuss bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Gaya Gupta and Neil MacFarquhar report for the New York Times.
A Belgian court has found six men guilty of terrorist murder, more than seven years after suicide bomb attacks killed 32 people at Brussel’s airport and a metro station in March 2016. Some defendants on trial had already been convicted of participating in the Paris terror attacks months earlier. Paul Kirby reports for BBC News.
Over 40 people have died in Algeria, Italy, and Greece, and thousands have been evacuated as Mediterranean wildfires rage. The heatwave is expected to continue as temperatures are forecast to rise above 111F in parts of Greece. Laurence Peter reports for BBC News.
A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone’s propeller was severely damaged when a Russian jet dumped flares on it while flying “dangerously” close in Syria over the weekend. This is only the latest “buzzing” incident, which the United States says indicates Russia’s “blatant disregard for flight safety.” Professor Michael Scharf, a former state department legal adviser, said, “The U.S. is on shaky legal ground in Syria.” Because “Russia has been invited in by the Assad regime … Russia has a better legal claim,” he added. Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
The United States is at a critical stage to try and negotiate the release of Travis King, the soldier who dashed across the demilitarized zone into North Korea last week, said Mickey Bergman, executive director of the Richardson Center for Global Diplomacy. The best chance at releasing a prisoner is just after they are detained when they have been interrogated but not yet charged with a crime, like spying. However, the United States has no official diplomatic relationship with North Korea, relying instead on a network of backchannels. Chelsea Bailey reports for BBC News.
Special counsel Jack Smith’s office is examining a 2020 White House meeting in which federal officials assured then-President Donald Trump of the security and integrity of the U.S. election system. Officials from agencies including the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) explained to Trump why it is extraordinarily difficult to hack into or fraudulently change the results of a U.S. election. Trump is said to have been receptive to this message. Kevin Collier, Tom Winter, and Natasha Korecki report for NBC News.
District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar yesterday struck down a strict new asylum policy that the Biden administration said was crucial to reduce illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border. The ruling was stayed for 14 days while the federal government appealed the decision. The law, which Tigar ruled to be “both substantively and procedurally invalid,” is not the only factor that saw the rates of border crossing plunge since May, and it is unclear how the ruling will affect immigration. Miriam Jordan and Eileen Sullivan report for the New York Times.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has indicated that the House is on course to pursue an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. The inquiry concerns claims of corruption linked to the President’s son Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings. McCarthy emphasized the distinction between launching an inquiry and an actual impeachment vote. Annie Linskey and David Harrison report for the Wall Street Journal.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who has blocked over 280 senior military promotions over the Pentagon’s abortion policies, yesterday said he is not likely to change his position before the Senate departs for a five-week August recess. Alexander Bolton reports for The Hill.
A growing number of Americans support using violence to restore former President Trump to the White House, a survey by the Chicago Project on Security Threats (CPOST) has shown. Between Apr. 6, 2023, and Jun. 26, 2023, the number of Americans agreeing that “the use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency” increased from 4.5% to 7%. That is a jump from 12 million to 18 million American adults. Robert Pape reports for CPOST.