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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 – PRIGOZHIN PLANE CRASH
Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the paramilitary organization Wagner group, is presumed to be dead following a plane crash north of Moscow. A social media account linked to Wagner posted that Prigozhin was “killed as a result of actions by traitors of Russia.” The Kremlin has not confirmed the death, but there is speculation that the Russian leadership was involved. Nine others were also killed. BBC News reports.
President Biden yesterday suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have plotted Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death. While Biden expressed uncertainty, he said, “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind.” Alex Gangitano reports for The Hill.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Gen Sergei Surovikin, one of Russia’s leading military figures and former commander of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has reportedly been fired as air force chief. Surovikin was last seen publicly before the failed armed action by the paramilitary organization Wagner group. He was believed to have good relations with Yevgeny Prigozhin. Paul Kirby reports for BBC News.
Seven people were wounded today following a Russian missile strike on the city of Dnipro in southeastern Ukraine. Reuters reports.
Ukraine is attempting to reopen the Black Sea export route with the help of global insurers to ensure the crucial export of grain. Russia has blockaded the shipping lane since it left the Black Sea grain deal last month. Ukrainian officials are in talks with global insurance firms and commodity traders to begin a government-backed program to enable ships to travel to Ukraine’s ports. Anna Hirtenstein and Jared Malsin report for the Wall Street Journal.
Ukrainian attacks on Russian airfields destroyed two TU-22 bombers and damaged two more bombers, Ukraine’s intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said. Budanov said Ukrainian intelligence was in direct contact with the people who attacked the airfields. Reuters reports.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – BRICS SUMMIT
The BRICS are preparing to invite Saudi Arabia to join the bloc, according to people familiar with the matter. Egypt is another nation being invited, along with others in the Middle East. Reuters reports.
Dozens of countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS as the bloc considers an expansion. While China’s leader, Xi Jinping, supports an expansion, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be wary of including nations close to China. Among others, Iran has expressed an interest in joining. Vivian Yee, Natalie Alcoba, Farnaz Fassihi, and Sui-Lee Wee report for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The African Union has suspended Niger following last month’s military takeover. It will also compile a list of members of the junta and their supporters for targeted sanctions and “individual punitive measures.” Meanwhile, ECOWAS mediator Abdulsalami Abubakar said talks with the junta had been “very fruitful,” and he still hopes for a peaceful resolution, saying, “Nobody wants to go to war.” Nellie Peyton and Felix Onuah report for Reuters.
Israel’s government today vowed to retaliate as attacks in the occupied West Bank increase. This year is described as the bloodiest in the region in two decades. About 33 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks this year and roughly 180 Palestinians. Isabel Kershner reports for the New York Times.
Over a dozen protesters were arrested for trying to break into the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, as Japan began releasing treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant. The release of water has also prompted bans on seafood and sparked fears of economic, environmental, and health impacts in the region. The International Atomic Energy Agency said the release meets all international safety standards. BBC News reports.
North Korea’s second attempt to launch a spy satellite failed today, citing an error in the rocket’s “emergency blasting system.” According to North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration, a third satellite launch would occur in October. Timothy W. Martin and Chieko Tsuneoka report for the Wall Street Journal.
Taiwan increased its planned military budget by a further $2.97 billion for next year to buy weapons, including fighter jets, to strengthen its defenses against China, the government said today. Ben Blanchard and Faith Hung report for Reuters.
The Biden administration approved a $500 million arms sale to Taiwan, the State Department said yesterday. The sale includes an upgrade to F-16 fighter jets, such as infrared search tracking systems. Matthew Lee reports for AP News.
Biden administration is in negotiations with Venezuela to exchange an easing of sanctions for a free election. The talks come as Venezuela is preparing for a presidential election in 2024. “The United States continues to work to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. And as we have been clear, should Venezuela take concrete actions toward restoring democracy, leading to free and fair elections, we are prepared to provide corresponding sanctions relief,” a National Security Council spokesperson said. Rafael Bernal reports for The Hill.
The Russian Federal Security Service has requested an extension of the pretrial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being wrongfully held on spying charges. Following an earlier request, Gershkovich’s pretrial detention was already extended to Aug. 30. It is unclear how long this extension would be. Kate Vtorygina and Ann M. Simmons report for the Wall Street Journal.
Rudy Giuliani, an ex-lawyer of former President Trump, turned himself in to Georgia authorities yesterday and was booked on charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. Giuliani and the other defendants, including Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer and former Trump campaign adviser, and Sidney Powell, a former Trump legal adviser, were released immediately on bond. Aruna Viswanatha reports for the Wall Street Journal.
District Court Judge Steve Jones yesterday denied Mark Meadows’ request to extend his deadline to surrender over charges relating to his role in attempting to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. Meadows will have to turn himself in by midday tomorrow. The judge ordered an evidentiary hearing for Aug. 28 on Meadows’ requests to move his charges to federal court and dismiss the indictment. Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein report for POLITICO.
Three men are on trial this week in Michigan for supporting a right-wing terror plot to kidnap and possibly kill the State’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer. Each man faces over 20 years in prison if convicted. The case has highlighted the state of political discourse and violence in the United States. Mitch Smith reports for the New York Times.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says Republicans could formally launch an effort to impeach President Biden next month. “If they provide us the documents, there wouldn’t be a need for an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said. “But if they … fight … we will move forward with [an] impeachment inquiry when we come back into session.” Mike Allen reports for Axios.