Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news.
Vietnam is making secret plans to purchase weapons from Russia in contravention of U.S. sanctions despite warming U.S.-Vietnam relations. A document signed by the Vietnamese deputy finance minister reveals Vietnam’s plans to modernize its military by agreeing to a new arms deal with Russia that would “strengthen strategic trust” when “Russia is being embargoed by Western countries in all aspects.” Hannah Beech reports for the New York Times.
U.K. lawmakers are calling on the government to designate China as a threat following the arrest of a parliamentary researcher accused of spying for China. Police confirmed over the weekend that two men were arrested under the Official Secrets Act in March. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak raised concerns about interference from China with President Xi Jinping while at the Group of 20 summit in India. Nick Eardley reports for BBC News.
China is proposing new laws allowing authorities to fine or detain individuals who wear clothes that “hurt the nation’s feelings,” leading to concerns over freedom of expression in the country. Criminal law professor Lao Dongyan, from Beijing’s Tsinghua University, warned that the proposed measures could infringe people’s rights. The proposal coincides with China’s growing nationalism. Chris Lau reports for CNN.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – GLOBAL RESPONSE
A “milestone” Group of 20 joint declaration in India that avoids condemning Russia for its war against Ukraine has been praised by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as “a step in the right direction.” Zoya Mateen and Simon Fraser report for BBC News.
The Republican Party is increasingly divided on the extent of U.S. support for Ukraine, with a small number of Democrats also raising concerns. American attitudes toward Ukraine are shifting, which may be increasingly reflected in the election as U.S. support for Ukraine becomes more of an issue. A White House budget request in August would bring the total U.S. investment in Ukraine to $135 billion. Abigail Hauslohner reports for the Washington Post.
Russian officers’ torture of Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war is a systematic, state-endorsed policy, said Alice Jill Edwards, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture. Edwards’ conclusion is among the firmest condemnations implicating the Russian leadership by an independent expert since the full-scale invasion. “Russian authorities have failed so far to send a directive to their soldiers and the military command informing them that torture and such types of detentions and interrogations are not acceptable,” Edwards said. Carlotta Gall reports for the New York Times.
Brazil’s judiciary will decide whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will be arrested if he attends next year’s Group of 20 summit in Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said today. His comments were made as he sought to review Brazil’s accession to the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.). Brazil is a signatory to the Rome Statute that led to the founding of the I.C.C. “I want to know why the U.S., India, and China didn’t sign the I.C.C. treaty and why our country signed it,” Lula said. Nidhi Verma reports for Reuters.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
Ukrainian forces have retaken more territory on the eastern and southern fronts, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said today. Maliar said Ukraine retook about 0.77 square miles of land in the past week around Bakhmut, captured part of the village of Opytne, and had “partial success” near Novomaiorske, another village in the Donetsk region. Reuters reports.
Ukraine may have as few as six weeks before changing weather halts its counter-offensive, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said yesterday. Milley’s comments come after one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s senior security officials indicated Ukraine’s forces could continue their counter-offensive well into the winter. Andrew Carey, Niamh Kennedy, and Yulia Kesaieva report for CNN.
President Biden arrived in Vietnam yesterday to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership, Vietnam’s highest designation for foreign partners, placing the United States at the same level as Russia and China. High-level meetings between the two countries are expected to become more common, and investment in industries, including semiconductor production, will increase. Jon Emont, Catherine Lucey, and Katy Stech Ferek report for the Wall Street Journal.
The United States could begin withdrawing troops from Niger in the coming weeks after it relocated troops from a larger base to a smaller one out of an “abundance of caution,” leading to a capacity problem at the smaller base. Nevertheless, the Pentagon aims to maintain a military presence in military-ruled Niger “for as long as possible,” one official said. Niger remains a critical hub for U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations. Oren Liebermann and Natasha Bertrand report for CNN.
Russia has detained two U.S. citizens, one of whom is accused of supporting the jailed opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, while the other was allegedly caught trying to smuggle his son out of Russia. While the State Department confirmed both arrests on Friday, it declined to provide further details. Neil MacFarquhar reports for the New York Times.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – 2020 ELECTION INTERFERENCE
Eric Munchel, known as the “Zip Tie Guy” for his actions during the Jan. 6 attack, and his mother were sentenced to prison on Friday. Munchel was sentenced to nearly five years, while his mother, Lisa Marie Eisenhart, got two and a half years. They were both fined $2,000 and will additionally face two and a half years of supervised release. Eduardo Medina reports for the New York Times.
Northern District of Georgia Judge Steve C. Jones rejected an effort by Mark Meadows, ex-White House chief of staff to former President Trump, to move his case from state court to federal court. The ruling does not bode well for the other defendants who also sought the venue change, as well as Trump, who is widely expected to seek the move too. A federal court setting would have given Meadows advantages, including a jury pool more favorable to Trump. Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim report for the New York Times.
Read the ruling on Mark Meadows’ efforts to move his case from Georgia state court to federal court, as reported by the New York Times.
A Georgia grand jury recommended criminal charges against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as well as Georgia’s then senators, Kelly Loeffler (R) and David Perdue (R), following its investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The grand jury also recommended charges be brought against Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, adviser Boris Epshteyn, and lawyers Lin Wood and Cleta Mitchell. None were ultimately charged. Luc Cohen and Jack Queen report for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TUBERVILLE NOMINATIONS BLOCKADE
Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) is urging the Senate to change its rules amid Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade of over 300 military promotions. “I wish the Senate would change their rules so that one senator doesn’t have that kind of power, so that we actually would have a democracy where you have a fair vote,” Smith said. “What he and the Freedom Caucus believe is, ‘If you don’t get what you want, do as much damage as you possibly can’ to the government,” he added. Joe Jacquez reports for The Hill.
House Foreign Affairs Chair Mike McCaul (R-TX) said Senator Tommy Tuberville’s blockade of over 300 military promotions is “paralyzing” and a “national security problem.” McCaul’s comments are the latest in a growing chorus of criticism. “No one can stop Chuck Schumer from holding votes on these nominations. He just doesn’t want to,” a spokesperson for Tuberville retorted. “It’s also inaccurate because acting officials are in all of these roles. In some cases these acting officials are the nominees for permanent roles. No jobs are open or going undone right now.” Shawna Mizelle reports for CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Former President Trump inflated his annual net worth by as much as $3.6 billion, according to court filings by New York Attorney General Letitia James, as part of her civil fraud allegations against Trump. James previously said Trump’s annual net worth from 2011 to 2021 was inflated by between $812 million and $2.2 billion. James Fanelli reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The unified Senate is preparing to lead on government funding and critical national security issues in the fall legislative session, daring divided House Republicans to oppose it and take the blame for shutting down the government. Paul Kane reports for the Washington Post.
The number of Russian spies in the United States is still “way too big” despite efforts to root them out, FBI Director Christopher Wray said last week. “The Russian traditional counterintelligence threat continues to loom large,” he added. Julia Shapero reports for The Hill.
Despite a record surge in far-right attacks on the power grid nationwide, many officials are unaware of the extent of the threat due to communication gaps between law enforcement and state and federal regulators. No single agency keeps a complete record of all such attacks. Conservative figures suggest 60 incidents characterized as physical threats or attacks on major grid infrastructure, in addition to two cyberattacks, occurred during the first quarter of 2023 alone. Catherine Morehouse reports for POLITICO.