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Early Edition: January 30, 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 – NATO 

Turkey has suggested that it may support the bid by Finland to join NATO while blocking Sweden. Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said today that Turkey would need to evaluate the applications from Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance “separately.” His comments come amid deteriorating relations between Turkey and Sweden following a Koran-burning protest in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Adam Samson and Richard Milne report for the Financial Times

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has asked South Kora to reconsider its rule on not exporting weapons to countries in conflict so it could help arm Ukraine. “I urge the Republic of Korea to continue and to step up the specific issue of military support,” he said, pointing to several countries, including Germany and Norway, who have changed their arms export policies to help Ukraine. Brad Lendon reports for CNN

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE 

The Czech Republic elected Petr Pavel, a retired senior NATO general, as president this weekend. Pavel, a political novice, defeated populist billionaire and former prime minister Andrej Babis, cementing the country’s position as a robust supporter of Ukraine. Andrew Higgins reports for the New York Times. 

The U.S. is trying to persuade Mozambique to use its new seat on the U.N. Security Council to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The southern African country, which has long been friendly to Moscow, was visited last week by U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield. During her visit, Thomas Greenfield told the government that neutrality was not an option when a country invades another in violation of a U.N. Charter that Security Council members are bound to uphold. Michael M. Phillips reports for the Wall Street Journal

Former U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike during a phone call in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The comment, which according to Johnson was delivered in a “jolly” manner, was made after he warned that a war in Ukraine would be an “utter catastrophe.”  BBC News reports. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated this weekend that Berlin would not send fighter jets to Ukraine. “The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all,” Scholz said in an interview with Tagesspiegel. “I can only advise against entering into a constant competition to outbid each other when it comes to weapons systems.” His comments come after a top Ukrainian official said on Saturday that Kyiv and its Western allies were engaged in “fast-track” talks on possibly sending military aircraft as well as long-range missiles to help fight the invasion by Russia. Jones Hayden reports for POLITICO

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov has accused Ukraine of “dragging its feet” on negotiations to create a safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. “The negotiation process is not easy. We forwarded our proposals to Rafael Grossi, the director general of the [International Atomic Energy Agency]. To the best of our knowledge, Kyiv has not yet provided a clear answer to the initiative of the I.A.E.A. head.” Ryabkov said in an interview with Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Josh Pennington reports for CNN

Over 66,000 alleged war crimes have been reported to Ukrainian authorities since the Russian invasion began, according to Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General. Whilst this is a staggering number, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, has vowed to investigate all of them and to bring to trial all those which met the evidential threshold. The issue of securing justice for the victims of war crimes is as important for Ukraine as defeating the Russian militarily if Russia is to be deterred from attacking Ukraine in the future, Kostin said. Liz Sly reports for the Washington Post. 

A Russian company has said it will offer five million roubles ($72,000) in cash to the first soldiers who destroy or capture western-made tanks in Ukraine. Echoing language used by Russian officials, the Urals-based company Fores said NATO was pumping Ukraine with an “unlimited” amount of arms and escalating the conflict. The company also said it would pay a 15-million rouble ($215,000) bounty on Western-made fighter jets, should they ever be delivered to Ukraine. Reuters reports. 

U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA 

The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said yesterday that he agreed with a statement that suggested the U.S. could be at war with China in 2025. In reference to a U.S. Air Force general who reportedly predicted war with China, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) told Fox News, “I hope he’s wrong as well. I think he’s right, though, unfortunately.” Olivia Olander reports for POLITICO

China’s top nuclear weapons research institute has bought U.S. computer chips at least a dozen times in the past 2 and a half years, circumventing decades-old U.S. export restrictions. Procurement documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the state-run China Academy of Engineering Physics had managed to obtain semiconductors made by U.S. companies such as Intel and Nvidia since 2020 despite its placement on a U.S. export blacklist in 1997. The chips were acquired from resellers in China. Liza Lin and Dan Strumpf report for the Wall Street Journal. 

ISRAEL 

Israel carried out a drone strike targeting a defense compound in Iran. According to Iranian officials, the country’s air defenses had fended off the attempted attack by three small quadcopters targeting a munitions factory in the city of Isfahan. The strike, which was the first known attack carried out by Israel under the new far-right coalition government, comes as Israeli and American officials discuss new ways to contain Tehran’s nuclear and military ambitions. Dion Nissenbaum, Benoit Faucon and Gordon Lubold report for the Wall Street Journal. 

Two Israelis were shot and injured in Jerusalem on Saturday, the morning after a Palestinian assailant killed seven people outside a synagogue in the city. Both victims on Saturday were taken to a hospital and were described by medics as being in serious but not critical condition. The shooter, who was identified by police as a 13-year-old boy, was shot and injured by two passers-by, according to a police statement. Patrick Kingsley reports for the New York Times. 

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank today, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The man, 26-year-old Nassim Abu Fouda, was shot in Hebron, a flashpoint for clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians. Tia Goldenberg reports for AP

OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

At least 31 people have been killed and 125 wounded in an explosion at a mosque in the city of Peshawar in Pakistan. Initial information suggests that the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber, Pakistan’s interior minister said at a press conference. Peshawar, which is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan, has been subject to frequent militant attacks since the Taliban seized control of neighboring Afghanistan more than a year ago. NPR and CNN report. 

Drones attacked a convoy of trucks in eastern Syria last night shortly after it crossed into the country from Iraq. This is according to Syrian opposition activists and a pro-government radio station. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, which took place in the border region of Boukamal – a stronghold of Iran-backed militias. AP reports. 

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS 

The Justice Department has told lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee that it is working to satisfy their request for information about classified documents found at the properties of President Biden and former President Trump. However, they are aiming to do so without harming ongoing special counsel investigations into both matters. This is according to a Justice Department letter, dated Saturday, which responded to the committee’s August request for information about the documents recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and follow-up inquiries by the panel about classified material found at Biden’s private office and residence. Zachary Cohen reports for CNN

COVID-19

COVID-19 has infected over 102.283 million people and has now killed over 1.11 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 670.400 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.82 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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