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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
Ukraine’s military says it has advanced on one of the front lines in southeast Ukraine, as Western officials speculate a significant thrust is underway. While Ukraine has not confirmed that it has strengthened its counter-offensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s attacks had “significantly” intensified. Paul Kirby reports BBC News.
U.S. Abrams tanks are expected to arrive in Ukraine in September. The U.S. plans to send 31 tanks, but the initial delivery will comprise only six to eight tanks. Lara Seligman, Alexander Ward, Paul Mcleary, and Joe Gould report for POLITICO.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – RUSSIA-AFRICA SUMMIT
Russia is ready to replace Ukrainian grain exports to Africa on a commercial and aid basis to avoid a “global food crisis,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a summit with African leaders in St Petersburg. “We will be ready to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain each in the next three to four months,” he said. Anton Troianovski, Declan Walsh, and Lynsey Chutel report for the New York Times.
The African Union yesterday called on Russia to reinstate the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal allowing Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain. “The problem of grains and fertilizers concerns everyone,” Comoros President Azali Assoumani, who heads the 55-nation African Union, said during the Africa-Russia summit. Nicolas Camut reports for POLITICO.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – WAGNER
Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia may close their borders with Belarus if there are serious incidents involving the paramilitary organization Wagner group along their frontiers with Belarus, Poland’s Interior Minister said yesterday. Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Poland of having territorial ambitions in Belarus after Poland moved military units to its east after Wagner mercenaries began training Belarusian special forces a few miles from its border. Reuters reports.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the paramilitary organization Wagner group chief, was photographed in St. Petersburg during this week’s Africa-Russia summit. BBC News reports.
Taiwan has resumed its annual war games, known as the Han Kuang Exercise, after some cancelations because of a looming typhoon. The exercises test the island’s air and sea defenses in case of a Chinese invasion. BBC News reports.
Japan’s annual defense white paper, approved last week, calls on Japan to “fundamentally” reinforce its military and cooperate closely with allies like South Korea as threats from China, Russia, and North Korea mount. Ben Dooley reports for New York Times.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party has withdrawn the bill that would have stripped the attorney general of the right to oversee the prosecution of government ministers, including the prime minister. The Likud leadership disowned the bill after opposition leaders said the bill confirmed the party’s effort to interfere in Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial. Patrick Kingsley reports for the New York Times.
The ongoing coup against Western-allied President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger comes amid political upheaval, a rise in Islamist extremism, and growing Russian influence across the region. Eve Sampson reports for the Washington Post.
Further requests have been filed with the police for permission to burn the Quran in Sweden, as Swedish prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, said he is “extremely worried,” as backlash in Muslim majority countries continues. Kristersson said the decision to grant permission for the demonstrations was up to the police. The Swedish minister for civil defense, Carl-Oskar Bohlin, said: “Russia-backed actors are amplifying incorrect statements such as that the Swedish state is behind the desecration of holy scriptures.” The Guardian reports.
The U.S. State Department yesterday ordered non-emergency government personnel and their family to leave Haiti, citing “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure.” U.S. citizens have been advised to leave Haiti as soon as possible “by commercial or other privately available transportation options.” Reuters reports.
The United States is expected to announce military assistance worth over $300 million for Taiwan. Congress authorized up to $1 billion worth of weapons aid for Taiwan in the 2023 budget. Mike Stone and Idrees Ali report for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
In a new indictment, former President Trump faces one additional count of wilful retention of defense information and two of obstruction, and he is accused of pressuring an employee to delete security footage at Mar-a-Lago, in the case related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents. A staff member at Mar-a-Lago, Carlos de Oliveira, has also been indicted for allegedly asking what could be done to delete the footage. Brandon Drenon reports for BBC News.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Democratic-led Senate voted 86-11 to pass its version of the annual defense policy bill, setting it on a collision course with the Republican-controlled House, which narrowly voted to add controversial measures. In passing their version, senators sidestepped the House’s ultraconservative Freedom Caucus push for amendments concerning abortion and transgender care for service members. Lindsay Wise and Simon J. Levien report for the Wall Street Journal.
President Biden yesterday said an “extreme political agenda” lay behind Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade on military nominations. Biden has said Tuberville is “now blocking more than 300 military operations.” Lucy Hodgman reports for POLITICO.
The Labor Department yesterday condemned a national surge in child labor after inspectors found thousands of violations. The Labor Department announced an 87 percent increase in employer fines in recent months. Lawmakers from both parties blamed Xavier Becerra, the Health and Human Services secretary, for failing to protect migrant children. Becerra’s agency is responsible for releasing children to safe living conditions after they cross the border alone. About 300,000 minors have come to the United States alone since 2021. Hannah Dreier reports for the New York Times.