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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 – BRICS SUMMIT
Chinese leader Xi Jinping yesterday unexpectedly did not deliver a speech at the BRICS summit in South Africa, sending his commerce minister instead. No explanation was given for his absence at the meeting, which included leaders from India, Brazil, and South Africa. “The fact that Xi skipped his speech at this meeting, but showed up to other engagements before and after this one, suggests there was something acute that pulled him away…” said Brian Hart, a fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Nectar Gan and Jennifer Deaton report for CNN.
China seeks to expand the BRICS bloc, with over 60 nations attending the summit in South Africa. One Chinese official said, “If we expand BRICS to account for a similar portion of world GDP as the [Group of Seven], then our collective voice in the world will grow stronger.” Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s goal is not to compete with the United States in the existing liberal institutions but to “change the world order into a Sino-centric one.” Ishaan Tharoor reports for the Washington Post.
Divisions among BRICS nations reemerged yesterday as they consider an expansion. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said, “We do not want to be a counterpoint to the G7, G20 or the United States.” Meanwhile, China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended remotely, seemed to take the opposite view. Analysts say the bloc has struggled to form a coherent view of its role. Bhargav Acharya and Gabriel Araujo report for Reuters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin used his speech at the BRICS summit to rally support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Putin blamed Russia’s exit from the Black Sea grain deal on the West. He spoke via video link because he is wanted for war crimes under a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court, to which South Africa is a party. Lynsey Chutel reports for the New York Times.
The Chinese technology firm Huawei may be building secret semiconductor-fabrication facilities in China under the names of other companies to overcome U.S. sanctions. Ian King and Debby Wu report for Bloomberg.
South Korea held its first nationwide air defense drills in six years today as North Korea continues to test its nuclear and missile capabilities. Hyonhee Shin and Ju-min Park report for Reuters.
Even though the Taliban declared an amnesty after taking control of Afghanistan, “at least 218 extrajudicial killings of former government officials” have taken place, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported. Around 800 human rights violations against former government members were documented following the Taliban takeover on Aug. 15, 2021, until June 30, 2023, the U.N. mission said. The report suggests that the Taliban leadership may have struggled with fighters’ accumulated grievances and a culture that often considers revenge an obligation. Richard Pérez-Peña reports for the New York Times.
Iran has built an advanced homemade drone named Mohajer-10, which has an operational range of 1,240 miles, can fly for up to 24 hours, and can carry a payload of up to 661 pounds. A video was released yesterday by Iran, with the caption “prepare your shelters” in both Hebrew and Persian. U.S. officials have accused Iran of sending similar drones to Russia in its war against Ukraine, which Iran denies. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE
Despite reports that Ukraine is struggling to advance along the frontline, Ukraine has not reached a stalemate with Russia, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said. Ukraine is taking territory on a “methodical, systematic basis,” he added. While Ukraine grapples with stiff resistance in the northeast, it has made significant gains in the southeast, according to an Institute for the Study of War assessment. Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive is struggling because it has misallocated resources, including troops, U.S. and other Western officials say. Ukrainian commanders have split their forces in two, sending troops to the south and east rather than focusing on the south to achieve the strategic goal of severing the land bridge between Russia and the occupied Crimean Peninsula. Eric Schmitt, Julian E. Barnes, Helene Cooper, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff report for the New York Times.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
A drone struck a building in central Moscow, while air defenses downed two drones in the Mozhaisk and Khimki districts of the Moscow region today. No casualties were reported. Emily McGarvey reports for BBC News.
The United States does not support attacks inside Russia, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said following the latest drone attack on Moscow earlier today. Kanishka Singh reports for Reuters.
Three people have been killed in a drone attack in Russia’s Belgorod region, the governor said. Reuters reports.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will travel to China next week in a bid to stabilize the U.S.-China relationship. Raimondo is set to meet senior Chinese officials and U.S. business leaders between Sunday and next Tuesday. Ana Swanson reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. State Department yesterday said it would impose sanctions after accusing China of the forcible assimilation of more than one million Tibetan children in government-run boarding schools. “These coercive policies seek to eliminate Tibet’s distinct linguistic, cultural, and religious traditions among younger generations of Tibetans,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Visa restrictions will be imposed on unnamed officials. James T. Areddy reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Eighty-one bills have been introduced in 33 states so far this year that would prohibit the Chinese government, some China-based businesses, and Chinese citizens from buying property near military bases or agricultural land. Alabama, Idaho, and Virginia have made these measures state law. Asian American advocacy groups have criticized the bills for going beyond national security, possibly encouraging discrimination. Kimberly Kindy reports for the Washington Post.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Yuscil Taveras, an employee of former President Trump, retracted “prior false testimony” after switching lawyers, implicating Trump in the mishandling of classified documents case. Taveras now accuses Trump and two aides of “efforts to delete security camera footage.” Eric Tucker reports for AP News.
Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, and David Shafer, one of Georgia’s fake electors, joined Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House chief of staff, in attempting to move their Georgia election interference charges to federal court. Zack Schonfield reports for The Hill.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Threats against public officials are on the rise and are expected to worsen, with 501 threats against public officials resulting in federal charges since 2013. Threats increased sharply in 2017 and 2021, years after critical elections, and were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and immigration policies. Pete Simi and Seamus Hughes have written in the Understanding Threats to Public Officials report.
Narayana Rheiner, who “pushed a police line” and “pulled the riot shield out of [an] officer’s hands, causing the officer to fall down several stairs onto the ground” during the Jan. 6 attack, was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in prison, the Department of Justice stated.