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Early Edition: May 4, 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 DEVELOPMENTS – KREMLIN DRONE ATTACK

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday denied Ukraine carried out an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin, which Russia says was an attempted assassination of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s office said defenses downed two drones overnight. Ukraine has said the Russian accusations are merely a pretext for massive attacks on its territory. Russia has threatened to retaliate when and where necessary in response to this “terrorist” act. Will Vernon and Thomas Spender report for BBC News

Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday cautioned against believing Russia’s assassination attempt allegation, saying he would take anything coming from the Kremlin with a “large shaker of salt.” Four U.S. officials said the Biden administration had no foreknowledge of an impending drone attack on the Kremlin. Senior Biden administration officials are still working to confirm whether the suspected attack was ordered by Kyiv, conducted by a rogue pro-Ukraine group, or a false flag operation by Russia. Alexander Ward and Jonathan Lemire report for POLITICO

RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE

The Biden administration will send Ukraine another $300 million in lethal aid, the Pentagon announced yesterday. The announcement comes less than a week after Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that “preparations are being finalized” for the coming offensive and that they were “mostly ready.” Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill

Ukraine is better positioned to make headway in its expected counteroffensive against Russia than leaked intelligence reports previously indicated, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday. “Where Ukraine might have been a month ago, two months ago, three months ago, is not where it is now in terms of its ability, for example, to prosecute a counteroffensive and to deal with the ongoing Russian aggression,” Blinken noted. Missy Ryan and John Hudson report for the Washington Post

OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS

Ukrainian air defenses last night withstood Russia’s most intense air attack on Kyiv since the start of the year, Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration, wrote on Telegram. There were no civilian casualties or damage to residential buildings and infrastructure. Josh Pennington reports for CNN

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to visit the International Criminal Court today. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of (children) and that of unlawful transfer of (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.” Mike Corder reports for AP News

Darya Trepova, accused of assassinating a prominent Russian military blogger in a St Petersburg cafe a month ago, has alleged she was set up. Trepova is now in detention in Moscow on terrorism charges, accused of cooperating with Ukrainian special services. Trepova did not say who supposedly set her up. Reuters reports. 

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS

Trump Organization executives Matthew Calamari Sr. and his son Matthew Calamari Jr. are expected to appear today before the grand jury investigating possible mishandling of classified documents brought to former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, sources said. Prosecutors are expected to ask the pair about the handling of Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage and Trump employees’ conversations following the subpoena for the footage. CNN previously reported that the security footage captured Walt Nauta, an aide close to Trump, and another Mar-a-Lago employee moving boxes containing documents from a storage closet. Katelyn Polantz and Paula Reid report for CNN.

A bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce legislation to overhaul how the government classifies and protects its most sensitive national-security secrets, according to people familiar with the matter. Complementary bills would reduce the amount of classified material by making it easier to downgrade or make it public while also looking to plug perceived gaps in the existing security-clearance process. Despite the widespread agreement, policymakers have not coalesced around specific overhaul proposals, and it is unclear if the Biden administration would support the congressional action. Dustin Volz and Lindsay Wise report for the Wall Street Journal

Jared Wise, a former FBI agent, has been charged this week with illegally entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack. Wise faces four misdemeanor counts, including disrupting the orderly conduct of government and trespassing. Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times

Mass killings are happening with staggering frequency this year, an average of about one a week, according to an analysis by the Associated Press and USA Today. By the end of April, 97 people had been killed in the 19 mass killings this year, exceeding the record set in 2009 when 93 people were killed in 17 incidents by the end of April. Stefanie Dazio, Larry Fenn and Colleen Slevin report for AP News.

Police have arrested Deion Patterson, a former U.S. Coast Guard, suspected of killing one person and wounding four in a shooting at a medical building in Atlanta yesterday. The motive for the shooting and whether the suspect knew or targeted any of his victims has yet to be determined. Rich Mckay reports for Reuters

Magistrate Judge Roy Percy yesterday denied bond for William Carl Sappington, 58, who has been charged with threatening to injure or kill Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) on Apr. 26. Sappington went to the residence of George Wicker, the senator’s cousin, according to FBI special agent Jason Nixon’s testimony. “Sappington reportedly said he intended to kill Roger Wicker because of his involvement in an incident (Sappington) had with law enforcement back in 2014,” Nixon added. AP News reports. 

U.S. RELATIONS

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic committee leaders said they would introduce legislation, dubbed “China Competition 2.0,” to limit the flow of technology to China, deter China from initiating a conflict with Taiwan, and tighten rules to block U.S. capital from going to Chinese companies. Democrats hope to introduce the legislation in the next several months. Patricia Zengerle and David Shepardson report for Reuters

Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said today that the delivery of 66 new F-16Vs from the United States had been delayed due to supply chain disruptions. The ministry was working to minimize the damage and “make up deficiencies.” Reuters reports. 

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – SUDAN

U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths has said it will be challenging to secure an end to the fighting in Sudan, as the rival factions are keen to “keep it going.” Griffiths said the two rival parties spoke of their attachment to humanitarian principles, but there did not seem to be a will to end the war. Wycliffe Muia and Basillioh Rukanga report for BBC News

Both sides of the fighting in Sudan have secured vital infrastructure and neither side has gained a definitive upper hand in the fighting yet. That risks prolonging the conflict since neither side sees a reason to negotiate, and both still believe they might win, said Alan Boswell, Horn of Africa director for the International Crisis Group. Katharine Houreld and Hafiz Haroun report for the Washington Post

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – CHINA

The Chinese government has increasingly used exit bans to stop both Chinese and foreign nationals from leaving China since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, according to a new report by Safeguard Defenders. The report found that China has used exit bans to silence activists, intimidate foreign journalists, control ethnic and religious groups, and pressure people to return to China to face investigation. Meaghan Tobin reports for the Washington Post

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service withheld information about Chinese threats against Michael Chong, a Canadian lawmaker, and his family, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday. Trudeau added that he had told the agency that such threats must be revealed immediately in the future. Conservative leader, Pierre Poilievre, said he found it “very hard to believe” that the intelligence agency would not tell the prime minister or his top public safety minister about the threats. Chong learned about a threat to his family in Hong Kong from a newspaper and slammed the Trudeau government for inaction. Leyland Cecco reports for the Guardian

OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Iranian forces yesterday seized a second oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. Navy said. Two people directly involved in efforts to release the first tanker told The Wall Street Journal that its seizure was retaliation for an American move to redirect a Greek-owned tanker moving Iranian crude to China towards Texas in late April. Those two people said they did not know what was behind Iran’s seizure of the second tanker. Dion Nissenbaum and Costas Paris for the Wall Street Journal

Brazil’s federal police raided the home of former President Jair Bolsonaro yesterday as part of a probe into allegations that he faked COVID-19 vaccination records for himself and family members to travel to the United States. Luciana Magalhaes and Samantha Pearson report for the Wall Street Journal

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