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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The U.K., France, and Germany will maintain sanctions on Iran to deter it from selling armaments to Russia. Some sanctions were due to be lifted next month under the 2015 nuclear deal terms. The U.K., France, and Germany believe Iran breached the deal by enriching and storing uranium. James Landale and Aoife Walsh report for BBC News.
China undertook large-scale military exercises in the Western Pacific this week. The exercises, involving at least 20 naval vessels and 68 warplanes, were likely aimed at practicing the enforcement of a blockade around Taiwan, said Ben Lewis, an independent defense analyst based in Washington. David Pierson and Amy Chang Chien report for the New York Times.
Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, who has been absent for the last two weeks, is under investigation for corruption and likely will be removed, two U.S. officials said. His removal would be the latest in a series of top-tier purges of China’s security ranks, increasing the uncertainty over the management of China’s foreign policy. Ellen Nakashima and Cate Cadell report for the Washington Post.
China is aiming to recruit U.K. officials in key positions in politics, defense, and business as part of a “prolific” spying operation to gain access to secrets, the U.K. government said yesterday. In a highly critical report in July, the Intelligence and Security Committee warned that China had successfully penetrated every sector of the British economy and ministers had been too slow to deal with the threat. Andrew Macaskill and Kylie Maclellan report for Reuters.
Aecio Pereira, who participated in storming government buildings in Brasília in January and was convicted of attempting a coup, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison. Pereira’s trial is the first of 232 cases of the most severe alleged crimes committed during the riots in Brazil. Prosecutors are also investigating more than 1,000 others, mainly on lesser charges. Mattea Bubalo reports for BBC News.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Washington on Thursday after the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week. The visit, coordinated with the Biden administration, aims to reinforce the importance of Congress providing funds to Ukraine. John Hudson and Maegan Vazquez report for the Washington Post.
The United States yesterday sanctioned more than 150 foreign companies and individuals accused of aiding Russia, focusing in particular on companies and individuals in countries acting as transit hubs for Russia to secure equipment for its war in Ukraine. Ian Talley reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Senior Russian officials have been meeting with Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar in a bid to secure naval access to a port in the Mediterranean. Russia has requested access to ports a mere 400 miles from Greece and Italy. The move is part of Russia’s larger push to gain influence in Africa. Benoit Faucon reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Ukrainian cruise missiles and drones destroyed a sophisticated Russian air defense system in occupied Crimea, a Ukrainian intelligence source said. “After disabling the radar stations, the navy units hit the S300 and S400 Triumph systems, worth $1.2bn, by two Neptune cruise missiles,” the source said. Ece Goksedef and Vitalii Chervonenko report for BBC News.
Ukrainian troops recaptured a village near the eastern city of Bakhmut under Russian control. Despite the slow progress, Ukraine’s counteroffensive has made steady progress against entrenched Russian positions, retaking a string of villages and advancing on the flanks of Bakhmut. Reuters reports.
Several Russian journalists have said they received notifications from Apple that their iPhones were infected with “state-sponsored” Pegasus surveillance spyware. The revelations come after Galina Timchenko, the co-founder of a Russian independent media outlet operating in exile, was alerted to the spyware on her iPhone. Gaya Gupta reports for the New York Times.
The Biden administration has approved $235 million in military aid for Egypt, redirecting $85 million to Taiwan and Lebanon. The partial reduction in funds for Egypt reflects U.S. efforts to maintain its security partnership while holding Egypt accountable for its human rights violations. Michael Crowley and Vivian Yee report for the New York Times.
A multibillion-dollar defense deal between U.S. defense giant RTX and Scopa, a Saudi weapons firm, was abruptly called off earlier this year when fears arose that Scopa had ties to sanctioned Chinese and Russian entities. Stephen Kalin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Senate Finance Committee yesterday passed a bill that would deepen U.S.-Taiwan economic ties, intended to facilitate more Taiwanese investment in the U.S. semiconductor industry. The bill would end double taxation between the two countries. It was passed unanimously in a sign of bipartisan support for Taiwan. Alan Rappeport reports for the New York Times.
Two U.S. diplomats in Russia will be expelled following their alleged contact with a Russian contractor for the U.S. Embassy charged with collecting information on the war in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The two diplomats, Jeffrey Sillin and David Bernstein have seven days to leave the country. Georgi Kantchev reports for the Wall Street Journal.
52% of respondents to a poll said they supported “sending U.S. military personnel to Mexico to fight against drug cartels,” while 26% were opposed, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll yesterday. However, 59% of poll respondents opposed unilateral action, while 29% were supportive. Republican presidential candidates have discussed military intervention in Mexico to stop the drug trade. Gram Slattery reports for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee yesterday ruled that former President Trump will not be tried alongside two of his co-defendants who requested a speedy trial for next month in the Georgia election interference case. Severing the trial of Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro from that of Trump and the other co-defendants was a “procedural and logistical inevitability,” McAfee said. Jan Wolfe and Mariah Timms report for the Wall Street Journal.
The New York state appellate court has put former President Trump’s fraud trial on hold, following a request by Trump, until the lower court judge overseeing the case rules on issues surrounding the statute of limitations. The decision may mean that the $250 million fraud trial might not begin as scheduled on Oct. 2. Kara Scannell reports for CNN.
Special Counsel Jack Smith yesterday opposed former President Trump’s bid to remove District Judge Tanya Chutkan overseeing the federal criminal election interference case, saying the request has “no valid basis.” Trump said Chutkan should recuse herself over prior statements she made in court concerning the Jan. 6 attack. Andrew Goudsward reports for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – HUNTER BIDEN
Hunter Biden has been charged with three counts of lying when buying a firearm. The charges relate to Biden allegedly lying on forms to purchase a gun while using crack cocaine. He faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
Read the Hunter Biden indictment, as reported by CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Navy will need “years to recover” from Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade on military appointments, according to the President Biden nominee, Admiral Lisa Franchetti. Connor O’Brien reports for POLITICO.
“Terrorists both foreign and domestic remain a top threat to the homeland, the Department of Homeland Security has outlined in its annual threat assessment. “During the next year, we assess that the threat of violence from individuals radicalized in the United States will remain high but largely unchanged from the assessment made throughout … the last year,” the assessment noted. Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted yesterday to fire Meagan Wolfe, the director of the state’s bipartisan elections commission. Wolfe then sued Republican lawmakers in a bid to stay in post. “The elections commission is training clerks around the state and issuing guidance, so to have uncertainty about who the top administrator is going into this crucial election season, I think is a real problem,” said Barry Burden, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and director of its Elections Research Center. Patrick Marley reports for the Washington Post.