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Early Edition: November 17, 2022

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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 – FIGHTING

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that a Ukrainian air-defense missile, not a Russian weapon, had most likely caused the deadly explosion in Poland. However, he took pains to say that Ukraine was not to blame, adding that “Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.” Steven Erlanger and Marc Santora report for the New York Times

Russia’s continued assault on Ukraine’s energy grid is endangering the operation of the country’s nuclear power plants. In a statement yesterday the director of the U.N. nuclear watchdog Rafael Grossi called the new strikes “a very concerning development,” the effects of which highlight the vulnerability of all Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. Marc Santora reports for the New York Times.  

Chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley argued yesterday that Ukraine may be in a position of strength to negotiate Russian withdrawal. Speaking following a meeting of allies who make up the Ukraine Contact Group, Milley laid out a comprehensive list of Russian failures, whilst highlighting that Ukraine has racked up “success after success after success.” This, Milley suggested,  may allow Ukraine to push for what it is unlikely to achieve militarily: a withdrawal of Russian forces. Oren Liebermann reports for CNN

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE 

Sanctions on Russia are disrupting the country’s military manufacturing industry and are having a detrimental effect on its economy, according to a senior U.S. Treasury Department official. The economic restrictions have forced Russian tank manufacturers to shut down for a period, making it difficult for the country to obtain key parts. The measures have also meant that Russian President Vladimir Putin has had to spend billions of dollars propping up the economy, diverting resources away from the war in Ukraine. Dylan Tokar reports for the Wall Street Journal. 

The expulsion of Russian spies from Europe in the wake of the war in Ukraine has damaged Russia’s ability to launch covert operations on the continent, the U.K.’s domestic intelligence chief has said. The decision to expel some 600 Russian officials – at least 400 of whom the U.K. intelligence services considered to be spies – has “struck the most significant strategic blow against the Russian intelligence services in recent European history,” MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said during an annual speech outlining the threats faced by the U.K. Max Colchester reports for the Wall Street Journal

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

The U.N. brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative has been extended for an additional 120 days. The deal has so far allowed millions of tons of grain to be exported from Ukrainian ports through the Black Sea. Its extension, which was announced by Ukraine, Turkey and the U.N., will help ease worries about widespread hunger amid global food shortages. Victoria Kim reports for the New York Times

Iranian drones used in Ukraine were largely made of parts manufactured by companies in the U.S., Europe, and other allied nations, new intelligence has shown. The findings demonstrate the limits of international sanctions: Tehran has been able to arm itself and its allies with new weaponry despite being the target of a comprehensive sanction regime. An investigation into the Western-origin parts has been launched by the U.S. federal agency responsible for enforcing export controls, according to industry officials familiar with the matter. Ian Talley reports for the Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian prosecutors began their on-the-ground investigations into war crimes committed in the recently liberated city of Kherson yesterday. No mass graves have been discovered in the city, but investigators said they had found 11 detention centers, including four sites they believed the Russians used to hold and torture civilians. Andrew E. Kramer reports for the New York Times

OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS 

A Dutch court will deliver its verdict today in the trial of four men accused of shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 above Ukraine in 2014. The defendants, who have ties to the Russian security services, are all believed to be in Russian-controlled territory or Russia itself, making it unlikely that they will ever serve any sentence they receive. Constant Méheut reports for the New York Times. 

A former British ambassador, an Australian economist, and a Japanese journalist are expected to be amongst the 6,000 prisoners set to be released by Myanmar’s ruling military junta today. The pardons were granted on “humanitarian grounds,” according to media reports, and follow criticism of the junta at a recent summit of Southeast Asian leaders. Alex Stambaugh and Heather Chen report for CNN

U.S. RELATIONS 

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile off its east coast, in an apparent response to Sunday’s summit between the U.S., South Korea, and Japan.  Hours before the launch, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hiu warned that the summit, which aimed to bolster extended deterrence and counteraction against North Korea, would bring the situation on the Korean Peninsula into an “unpredictable phase.” Dasl Yoon reports for the Wall Street Journal. 

A U.S. federal government agency was compromised by Iranian government-sponsored hackers, who stole passwords on the network and installed software to generate cryptocurrency. The hack likely began in February, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responded to the breach in June, the FBI and DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in a public advisory. The hackers exploited a widely known vulnerability that CISA wanted agencies about in Dec. 2021. Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN

OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS 

Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted yesterday to impeach Larry Krasner, the district attorney of Philadelphia whose progressive policies they blame for fueling violent crime in the city. The chamber impeached Krasner, a Democrat, by a vote of 107-85, largely along party lines. The two original impeachment articles didn’t allege any violations of law, but rather misbehavior in office. One article claims that Krasner’s policies have substantially contributed to the increase in crime in Philadelphia. The next step will be a trial in the Republican-led state Senate. Scott Calvert reports for the Wall Street Journal

The House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack pushed back on former Vice President Pence yesterday after he described the panel as “partisan” during an interview with CBS. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the panel’s chair, and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who serves as vice chair, in a joint statement, criticized Pence’s comments as “not accurate,” while praising his actions on Jan. 6. Later Pence also appeared on CNN, where he argued that the committee had “no right to his testimony,” citing concerns about the separation of powers. Zach Schonfeld reports for The Hill

At least 60 instructors have been accused of sexual misconduct against high school cadets in the past five years, the House panel investigating the military’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program has found. 58 of those allegations were substantiated, according to a congressional memo released yesterday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s majority staff. The figure of 33, initially reported by the New York Times in July, nearly doubled when the Pentagon this month acknowledged that there were in fact 60 allegations. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill

COVID-19

COVID-19 has infected over 97.997 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 635.235 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.

The post Early Edition: November 17, 2022 appeared first on Just Security.

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