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Early Edition: January 18, 2023


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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 – BROVARY HELICOPTER CRASH

At least 18 have been killed and 29 injured in a helicopter crash in the Kyiv suburb of Brovary. Among those killed was Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, Denys Monastyrsky. Monastyrsky is the highest-ranking government official to die since Russia’s invasion began. The cause of the crash, which involved a State Emergency Service helicopter, was not immediately clear, and there was no initial information that the aircraft had been shot down. Megan Specia and Andrew E. Kramer report for the New York Times

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE 

The Pentagon is sending U.S. ammunition stored in Israel to help meet Ukraine’s need for artillery shells. Israel has consistently refused to supply weapons to Ukraine, and initially expressed concerns about appearing complicit in arming Ukraine if the Pentagon drew its munitions from the stockpile. Eric Schmitt, Adam Entous, Ronen Bergman, John Ismay and Thomas Gibbons-Neff report for the New York Times

The U.S.’s top general met with his Ukrainian counterpart in person for the first time yesterday. The meeting between Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen Valeriy Zaluzhny, the leader of Ukraine’s military, took place at an undisclosed military base in southeastern Poland. Eric Schmitt reports for the New York Times

President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke on the phone yesterday to discuss military support for Ukraine. According to a spokesperson for Scholz, both leaders agreed that their support “must be effective, sustained, and closely coordinated.” The conversation came ahead of talks in Germany this week. Claudia Otto and Nadine Schmidt report for CNN

During this trip to the U.S., British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged the West to increase its support for Ukraine.  Speaking before a meeting with his American counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Cleverly told reports, “we have started to see a slowing — an ossification — of the line of contact.” That is why “we think now is the right time to intensify our support for Ukraine,” he added. Dan De Luca and Abigail Williams report for NBC News

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE

NATO defense ministers will meet in Brussels today and tomorrow to discuss how best to support Ukraine. On Friday they will be joined at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany by officials of a broader group of nations that has coordinated aid to Ukraine. U.S. defense secretary Lloyd Austin will lead the discussions, which will focus on the types and amounts of weaponry to supply. Steven Erlanger reports for the New York Times

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today. In his nightly address yesterday Zelenskyy said that Kyiv was “lobbying for increased global pressure” on Russia while at Davos. Carly Olson reports for the New York Times. 

The executive arm of the E.U. yesterday said it was considering the establishment of an “international prosecution office” to investigate the crime of aggression in Ukraine. This office could be a precursor to the establishment of a special tribunal to hold Russia’s leadership accountable for the war in Ukraine, E.U. justice commissioner Didier Reynders told the European Parliament. E.U. lawmakers are expected to back a non-binding resolution later this week calling for the establishment of the tribunal. EURACTIV reports. 

Just Security has published a piece by Ryan Goodman titled “Toward an Interim Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague for the Crime of Aggression Against Ukraine.” 

BELARUS 

Belarus yesterday put the country’s main exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on trial in absentia for treason. Tikhanovskaya, who is based in Lithuania, described the trial as a “farce.” According to Belarusian state media Tikhanovskaya and four other exiled opposition figures stand accused of “plotting an unconstitutional seizure of state power,” “inciting social hatred,” and other crimes. Anton Troianovski reports for the New York Times

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko would face “massive disobedience” if he decided to send troops to fight alongside Russia in Ukraine, Tikhanovskaya has said. Speaking in Davos, where she is seeking to bolster international support for her country’s opposition, Tsikhanouskaya said that while Minsk was already helping the Kremlin by allowing Russian troops to train and use the country’s military infrastructure, “Belarusians don’t see Ukrainians as enemies.” Anne-Sylvaine Chassany and Katie Martin report for the Financial Times

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS

The Justice Department considered having FBI agents monitor a search by President Biden’s lawyers for classified documents at his homes, but decided against it. According to people familiar with the matter, the Justice Department made this decision both to avoid compromising the special counsel’s investigation and because Biden’s attornies had quickly turned over the first batch and were cooperating. Aruna Viswanatha, Sadie Gurman and C. Ryan Barber report for the Wall Street Journal

Just Security has published a piece by J. William Leonard titled “Vice Presidents and Rules Governing Classified National Security Information.” 

Senior House Republicans are considering launching impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Key committee chairs are already preparing to hold hearings on the problems at the southern border, which Republicans say could serve as a prelude to an impeachment inquiry against Mayorkas. However, more moderate Republicans have expressed concern that such a move could turn the American people off if the party is perceived as overreaching. Melanie Zanona, Manu Raju and Annie Grayer report for CNN

Failed Republican candidate for New Mexico Solomon Peña visited the homes of local Democratic leaders to dispute his election loss prior to allegedly orchestrating a series of shootings at their residences. Peña, who is accused of conspiring with and paying four men to carry out the shootings, was implicated in the attacks by an informant who was also present at the shootings. Deon J. Hampton, Phil McCausland and Mirna Alsharif report for NBC News

The Justice Department won’t seek the death penalty for the man accused of killing 23 people in 2019 at Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Patrick Crusius faces 90 federal charges for his alleged role in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Jury selection for his federal case will begin in January 2024. Adolfo Flores reports for the Wall Street Journal. 

U.S. RELATIONS 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met face-to-face with her Chinese counterpart Vice Premier Liu He. Yellen pledged to manage differences and “prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict,” as the two nations try to thaw relations. Liu, also said he was ready to seek common ground between China and the U.S. Fatima Hussein reports for AP

OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS 

A former lawmaker embroiled in the European Parliament cash for influence scandal has reached a plea deal with Belgian authorities. The lawmaker, Pier Antonio Panzeri, will “make substantial, revealing, truthful and complete statements” about the operation of the scheme in exchange for a lighter sentence, the prosecutor’s office said yesterday. Panzeri, who has been held in custody along with four others, is accused of taking payments from Qatar and Morocco. Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Monika Pronczuk report for the New York Times

COVID-19

COVID-19 has infected over 101.724 million people and has now killed over 1.10 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 667.693 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.73 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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