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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – KHERSON
Russian forces have completed their withdrawal from Ukraine’s Kherson Region west of the Dnipro River, including Kherson city, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Images and videos on social media show that the main bridge over the river has been destroyed. Mick Krever reports for CNN.
A high-ranking Russian-appointed official in Ukraine’s Kherson region has died following a car accident, local officials said yesterday. The official, Kirill Stremousov, had been outspoken about Russia’s weakening military position on the western bank of the Dnipro River, and in recent weeks had predicted the Russian pullback in public comments. His death was first reported in Russian state news media on Wednesday, and shortly after Moscow’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu ordered Russia to retreat from the city of Kherson. James C. McKinley Jr. reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been urging diplomacy in Ukraine. However, other senior officials have resisted the idea. Whilst these officials believe the war will likely be settled through negotiation eventually, they maintain that neither side is ready to negotiate. They are also concerned that any pause in the fighting would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a chance to regroup, according to officials familiar with the discussions. Peter Baker reports for the New York Times.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III will host the seventh meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group next week. The meeting will be hosted virtually and will include defense ministers from nearly 50 countries. At the meeting, the ministers are expected to discuss how their governments can continue to provide arms, ammunition, and equipment to Ukraine. C. Todd Lopez reports for DOD News.
White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, announced another $400 million in military aid for Ukraine yesterday. The latest package brings the amount of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration to $19. 3 billion. Dan Bilefsky and John Ismay report for the New York Times.
The U.S. has observed Russian naval vessels preparing for a possible test of a new nuclear-powered torpedo in recent weeks. However, in the last week, the vessels were seen leaving the testing area in the Arctic Sea without carrying out a test. The U.S. believes that Russia may have encountered technical difficulties, a senior U.S. official said. Jim Sciutto reports for CNN.
Former President Bush will hold a public conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy next Tuesday. The event aims to underscore the importance of the U.S.’s continuing support for Ukraine, amid questions about the willingness of the Republican Party to maintain that support. The event will take place at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas and will be open to the public. Kyle Atwood reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Ukraine is not considering negotiations with Russia to end the war, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General has said. In an interview with BBC News, Andriy Kostin also stressed the need for Russian leaders to be held accountable and called for the establishment of a special international tribunal. He also highlighted the importance of international cooperation in collecting the evidence and witness testimonies needed to build a legal case. Catherine Byaruhanga reports for BBC News.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Myanmar’s military is relying more heavily on Russia-supplied aircraft in its campaign against resistance fighters. Over the past month, Myanmar’s military has deployed Russia-made Yak-130 jets and MI-35 helicopters across the country, dropping unguided, imprecise munitions that have killed dozens of people, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The campaign has prompted louder calls from human rights groups for foreign governments to stop the supply of aircraft equipment and aviation fuel to the Southeast Asian country. Rebecca Tan and Cape Diamond report for the Washington Post.
Swedish prosecutors have indicted two brothers for espionage on behalf of Russia. The two men are suspected of having provided Russian intelligence agency GRU with classified information for a decade, starting in 2011. The Prosecutor’s Office highlighted the seriousness of the alleged crime, saying that the actions of the suspects could be detrimental to the Nordic country’s security. Reuters reports.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has announced that he will invite Benjamin Netanyahu to form Israel’s next government. Netanyahu has served as Israel’s Prime Minister 5 times and is already the nation’s longest-serving leader. Herzog will officially issue the mandate to Netanyahu on Sunday. Elliot Gotkine and Amir Tal report for CNN.
The Taliban have banned women from visiting parks in Afghanistan’s capital. Women were previously allowed to visit parks on three days every week. However, now they won’t be allowed even if they are accompanied by a male relative. Yogita Limaye and Simon Fraser report for BBC News.
India’s Supreme Court has ordered the release of six people convicted of killing the country’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, 31 years after their imprisonment. Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide bomb attack on May 21, 1991. The attack was blamed on separatist rebels fighting for a Tamil state in Sri Lanka. Over the years, various Tamil Nadu governments have requested the release of those found guilty of the killing. Rhea mogul and Swati Gupta report for CNN.
The Vatican’s former chief auditor, Libero Milone, is suing the Vatican for wrongful dismissal. According to Milone, he was dismissed after he uncovered misuse of funds by Vatican officials. He claims that he told Pope Francis of his findings but that nothing was done. In spring the Vatican opened its own investigation into Milone for embezzlement. Jason Horowitz reports for the New York Times.
The Justice Department yesterday urged a federal judge to expedite the trial of Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House aide charged with defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. Assistant U.S. attorney Raymond Hulser argued that speed was important, as it might force Navarro to cooperate with the committee before it dissolves at the end of the year. However, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ultimately rejected this request and set the trial to begin on Jan. 11, a week after the committee’s authorization is set to expire. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.
Jan. 6 defendant Ryan Nichols, who posted violent live-streamed diatribes before, after, and during the attack, was released from pretrial detention yesterday. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan – who had initially ordered and repeatedly upheld Nichols’ incarceration – said that he still considered Nichols a danger to the community. However, he found that Nichols’ current detention was preventing him from accessing the digital evidence that he needs to prepare for his trial. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.
Several top executives resigned from Twitter yesterday, with some citing concerns over Elon Musk’s leadership. Those who resigned included the company’s head of moderation and safety, its chief privacy officer, its chief compliance officer, and its Chief Information Security Officer. The departures prompted a rare warning from the Federal Trade Commission that it may step in to ensure the company is complying with certain privacy and security requirements. Joseph Menn, Cat Zakrzewski, Faiz Siddiqui, Nitasha Tiku and Drew Harwell report for the Washington Post.
COVID-19 has infected over 97.977 million people and has now killed over 1.07 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 634.380 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.61 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
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