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Sometime in January, seemingly unnoticed by the outside world, an anonymous member of a group numbering just over a dozen began to post files—many labeled as top secret—providing details about the war in Ukraine, intercepted communications about U.S. allies, such as Israel and South Korea, and details of American penetration of Russian military plans, among other topics.
The documents, which appear to have numbered in the hundreds, stayed among the members of the tiny group on the Discord messaging platform until early March, when another user reposted several dozen of them to another group with a larger audience. From there, at least 10 files migrated to a much bigger community focused on the Minecraft computer game.
On Wednesday, with the U.S. government apparently still unaware, a Russian propaganda account on Telegram posted a crudely doctored version of one of the documents, alongside a few unedited ones.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department are now on a sprawling hunt for answers on how the dozens of images that purport to show secret documents surfaced online. A government probe, launched Friday at the request of the Defense Department, is searching for the source of the leak.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment Sunday on the status of the investigation.
The leak is shaping up to be one of the most damaging intelligence breaches in decades, officials said. The disclosure complicates Ukraine’s spring offensive. It will likely inhibit the readiness of foreign allies to share sensitive information with the U.S. government. And it potentially exposes America’s intelligence sources within Russia and other hostile nations.
Photo: Roman Pilipey/Getty Images
A decade after National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked a giant cache of top-secret documents about surveillance and other intelligence activities, the U.S. government is still unable to protect against such breaches.
“How the heck are we back here again?” said Brett Bruen, president of Global Situation Room, a national security consulting firm, and a former White House official in the Obama administration. “These kinds of large scale security breaches were supposed to be a thing of the past. New controls and checks were put in place. Yet, clearly it wasn’t enough and we need a major rethink [and] revision to the classified protection process.”
Who had access
The Wall Street Journal wasn’t able to independently authenticate the documents, but they contain enough detail to give them credibility. Defense officials have said they believe some of the documents could be authentic.
Photo: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS
In total, just over 50 documents with Secret and Top Secret classification markings have surfaced so far, and have been viewed by the Journal and a variety of independent intelligence analysts. A critical question is who had access, and when, to the hundreds of others that were posted in the original group between January and March, and how significant are the secrets that these files contain.
The U.S. intelligence community is expected to take measures to protect the sources and methods used in the collection of data in that material. “You have to assume it is compromised,” said Thomas Rid, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University. “But assuming that the adversary has it is one thing, knowing it is another.”
The probe into the leak will be among the FBI’s top priorities as investigators search for who had access to the information, and who would have motive to make it public, said Joshua Skule, a former FBI senior executive who is now the president of the government contracting firm Bow Wave.
“They are going to be looking to get to the bottom of who did it as expeditiously as possible, they are going to be sparing no resource,” Mr. Skule said. “The FBI is approaching this as if someone has committed a treasonous act.”
The leaked documents are photographs of presentations and files that had been printed out on A4 paper. They appear to have been folded twice, perhaps to be smuggled out of a secure facility. A variety of items can be seen in the margins of the photos, including Gorilla glue, shoes and instructions for a GlassHawk HD spotting scope, details that could facilitate the search for the leaker.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in a Telegram post that it was unlikely that Russia was behind the original intelligence breach.
Photo: oleg petrasyuk/EPA/Shutterstock
“If you have an operating channel to obtain intelligence from the Pentagon, you don’t burn it for a one-day publicity drive,” he wrote. By publicizing the leak, he added, Russia aimed to distract attention from Ukraine’s preparations for the offensive, and to “sow certain doubts and mutual suspicions” between Kyiv and its partners.
Mr. Zelensky reacted to the leak by ordering new measures to clamp down on unauthorized disclosures of military information. The U.S. has also changed how military personnel access such documents, defense officials said last week.
The most damaging files, security analysts say, are the roundups of vetted intelligence material compiled in the Central Intelligence Agency’s operations center intelligence update. They include information on conversations that the U.S. had intercepted within allied governments, such as communications of the leaders of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service and discussions among members of South Korea’s national security council on whether to sell ammunition that could end up in Ukraine.
Even more sensitive is the information that appears derived from the U.S. penetration of the Russian government, such as details on how a Russian hacker shared screenshots with the FSB security service on accessing Canada’s natural-gas infrastructure, internal Russian ministry of defense deliberations on supplying ammunition to the Wagner paramilitary group, and plans by Russian military intelligence to foment an anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian campaign in Africa.
Aric Toler, head of research and training at the Bellingcat investigative consortium, which has carried out several probes of Russian intelligence operations, said that he has been in touch with three original members of the Discord group.
The group’s members saw hundreds of classified files before the channel was wiped clean, he said. Most members are based in the U.S. The identity of the original poster remains unknown.
Document leaks have emerged as a common tactic during the war in Ukraine, but the posting of the apparent U.S. intelligence files on Discord, an online chat service favored by videogame players, follows a different, somewhat baffling pattern, according to analysts.
Once global attention was drawn to the leak, members of the Discord groups scurried to delete their accounts and to purge their servers, fearing retribution by the U.S. government and unwelcome attention from foreign intelligence agencies.
“I left that server and I really hope that I am safe,” one of the users, who had uploaded some of the leaked files to the Minecraft community, posted on Friday, adding a crying emoji.
Founded eight years ago in San Francisco, Discord first gained popularity as software that gamers could use to talk to each other in a group. The majority of these chat servers are private—shared by friends—but they can be public, too. Discord also hosts communities supporting Ukraine’s cause.
On Sunday, Discord’s website listed more than 20,000 public servers, the majority of them concern gaming. “It’s a very reliable service when the games are acting glitchy,” said Levi Gundert, chief security officer with the intelligence firm Recorded Future.
Photo: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg News
Researchers at Mr. Gundert’s firm have also found unsavory content on the platform, such as terrorist propaganda and tools for hackers. “It really looks more like a kind of free-for-all in terms of the content that’s available,” he said.
Discord would likely have information about the users of the original group’s server that would be of use to law enforcement investigators, Mr. Gundert said.
A Discord spokeswoman declined to comment.
The latest leak isn’t the first time sensitive documents have shown up on a gaming-related server. Last year, a player of the WarThunder military vehicle combat game posted real classified information on the British Challenger 2 tanks, while a year earlier another user posted a classified manual for the French Leclerc tanks.
The new disclosures are far more significant. They include information about the types of heavy weapons and equipment of the nine Ukrainian brigades that the U.S. and allies are preparing for the coming spring offensive; precise details on the quickly dwindling ammunition of the Ukrainian air defense systems; the level of protection of critical infrastructure sites; and details on how many tanks, artillery pieces and military aircraft Ukraine operates.
The slide initially publicized on Wednesday and Thursday by Russian propaganda Telegram accounts had been doctored to inflate Ukrainian battlefield casualties and to minimize Russian ones. The crude nature of the alteration suggests this wasn’t a high-level intelligence operation, security analysts said.
Another purported Pentagon document that emerged on Friday contained the same estimate of Ukrainian and Russian battlefield fatalities as the unaltered slide: up to 43,000 Russian troops and up to 17,500 Ukrainian troops, in addition to as many as 41,000 Ukrainian civilians.
Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka/Associated Press
Separately from the war, one of the items in the CIA update said that Mossad leaders “advocated for Mossad officials and Israeli citizens to protest against the new Israeli government’s proposed judicial reform, including several explicit calls to action that decried the Israeli government.” The update cited signals intelligence, an indication that conversations among the Mossad leadership have been intercepted by the U.S. government.
Mossad Sunday took the rare step of publicly denying the report, calling these allegations “mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever.”
Changes in security
U.S. national security entities have taken steps to prevent a repeat of the 2013 breach, when Mr. Snowden, then a contractor to the National Security Agency, left the country with a large number of classified documents, and provided them to journalists.
Mr. Snowden, who became a Russian citizen, has said his leak was meant to shine light on what he described as abuses of U.S. surveillance, and chose to provide them to journalists so that they would vet the documents.
There has been no explanation so far of the motives behind the latest leak.
In the current case, the U.S. is considering a range of possibilities over how it occurred, including that someone with a top-secret security clearance leaked the information or that U.S. intelligence systems were hacked, U.S. officials said Saturday.
Leak probes usually begin by determining who had access to the documents, current and former officials said. Potentially hundreds of government employees have security clearances that would give them the ability to view the documents.
Marc Raimondi, a former Justice Department official, said that the pool of people who have access to some of the highest levels of classified information expanded in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A congressional commission that investigated the attacks pointed to the lack of intelligence sharing as one of the reasons the U.S. government didn’t uncover the plot.
Since then, efforts have focused on sharing intelligence more widely, “but with having that wider pool of people having access, obviously, you run the risk that one of those people may not take their oath as seriously as they should, and you have an improper release of national defense information,” said Mr. Raimondi, chief of staff at the Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington, D.C., based think tank focused on security and trade issues.
Mr. Raimondi said sharing intelligence remains critical for protecting the U.S. and its allies, even if it comes with risks.
“An extraordinarily small number of clearance holders violate their obligation,” he said. “But when it does occur, it can be devastating.”
—Vivian Salama, Sadie Gurman, Gordon Lubold and Dov Lieber
contributed to this article.
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The thing that’s “breathtaking” about former US president Donald Trump is his “ability for unforced errors”, says Curtin University political analyst Professor Joe Siracusa.
This comes as former Trump attorney general William Barr warns the former president faces more legal peril from an investigation into his possession of classified documents.
“All this is unnecessary, it’s just because he just kind of plods through these things,” Professor Siracusa told Sky News Australia.
The most recent informant to emerge from the trial is a Texas-based activist who became uncommonly close to some of the defendants, their lawyers and relatives.
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington. The F.B.I. had informants working alongside the Proud Boys leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.Credit…Sarah Silbiger for The New York Times
Over the past two months, one subject has repeatedly come up at the trial of five Proud Boys accused of sedition in connection with the storming of the Capitol: the unusual number of informants that the F.B.I. had in or near the group.
Even before the trial began, defense lawyers had suggested that the bureau had as many as eight informants in the far-right organization in the months surrounding Jan. 6, 2021. At least one of them — from the group’s chapter in Kansas City — was in the throng of Proud Boys that marched on the Capitol that day.
On Wednesday, new court papers revealed that there was yet another informant in the Proud Boys’ orbit, one who became uncommonly close to people involved in the sedition trial.
The newly disclosed informant, a Texas-based activist named Jen Loh, took part in prayer meetings with some of the defendants’ relatives and had multiple contacts with the defendants themselves while they have been in jail. She was also in touch with some of the defense lawyers in the case, making what one of them, Nicholas Smith, has called a “constant drumbeat” of “detailed inquiries,” which Mr. Smith said he had ignored.
Carmen Hernandez, another defense lawyer working on the case, described what Ms. Loh has been doing as a “surreptitious invasion” of the Proud Boys’ defense team. She demanded this week that the government turn over any reports from other informants who may have gathered information on the defense.
Prosecutors have insisted that they never asked Ms. Loh — whose real name is Jennylyn Salinas — to cozy up to the defendants, their relatives or their lawyers. In fact, they said in court papers filed on Thursday, they cut ties with her two months ago after learning that she planned to appear at the sedition trial as a witness for one of the defendants, Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys’ former leader.
In an interview on Friday, Ms. Loh said that she had never spied on the Proud Boys or their lawyers and said that the F.B.I. never asked her any questions directly related to the trial that is now unfolding in Federal District Court in Washington. She also confirmed that she had parted ways with the bureau when she started talking with Mr. Tarrio’s lawyers.
Ms. Loh maintained that while she provided the government information about some of the defendants before the trial began, her interest in their families and legal situations was genuine.
“It’s hard to see people calling me a rat and a fed and things like that,” she said. “I think it’s sad that we’ve gotten so polarized in this country.”
The use of informants in Jan. 6 investigations has been a simmering issue almost from the moment that the Justice Department started bringing charges against people involved in the Capitol attack. For more than two years, some in the right-wing media have sought to promote the idea that the bureau instigated the assault through proxies acting on the ground on its behalf.
But the defense lawyers in the Proud Boys’ trial — while clearly disturbed by the number of informants in the group — have largely dismissed the notion that the F.B.I. wielded anyone as an agent provocateur.
“In the media, there’s a swirling notion that undercover informants instigated Jan. 6,” Mr. Smith, who represents the defendant Ethan Nordean, said several weeks ago during a pretrial hearing.
“That’s not our belief,” he went on, adding, “I think it’s slander actually.”
Instead, the lawyers have made a different point, arguing that the information the informants have provided to the government appears to be exculpatory and contradicts the central allegation in the case: that their clients went to Washington on Jan. 6 with a plan to storm the Capitol and disrupt the peaceful transfer of presidential power.
The defense, in fact, has upended the standard pattern and rather than attacking the informants has embraced them, issuing subpoenas to more than a half-dozen to appear as witnesses at the trial. But so far they have not managed to get any on the stand.
On Tuesday, for example, Judge Timothy J. Kelly quashed a subpoena the defense had given to Kenneth Lizardo, a Massachusetts Proud Boy who had what the judge described as “a reporting relationship with the F.B.I.” Judge Kelly ruled that Mr. Lizardo could avoid testifying at the trial because if he were called he planned to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
His situation suggests the extent of the bureau’s network of informants.
On the day before the Capitol attack, Mr. Lizardo accompanied Mr. Tarrio (who was himself a former F.B.I. informant) to a meeting with Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, in an underground parking lot in Washington. At that time, Mr. Rhodes’s chief lieutenant in the Oath Keepers, Greg McWhirter, the group’s vice president, was also working as an informant for the bureau.
While not much is known about the identities of the other informants in the Proud Boys, the bureau had placed secret sources in several chapters around the country, including in Cleveland and in Salt Lake City, according to a private log of internal F.B.I. messages obtained by The New York Times.
During the trial, defense lawyers have also mentioned an informant known only as Danny Mac, who once led a Proud Boys chapter in New Jersey. Matthew Walter, a former chapter president from Tennessee, told The Times last month that he had a relationship with the F.B.I. that lasted several months around the time of Jan. 6 and added that as many as 20 other members of the group did as well.
Ms. Loh said that she began working with the F.B.I.’s office in San Antonio, Texas, in 2018 or 2019 after falling victim to an attack from what she described as activists from the leftist movement antifa. At first, she said, she gave the bureau what she believed was “useful information” on leftist protesters.
Soon, however, she began getting paid for her work. At that point, Ms. Loh, who once served as a top official in an organization called Latinos for Trump, started providing information to the F.B.I. on “any type of domestic terrorism — on the right or the left,” she said.
More recently, according to the government, Ms. Loh has been active in assisting people charged in the Capitol attack “in fund-raising efforts and protesting against their conditions of confinement.” She also confirmed the government’s contention that she engaged in discussions with one of the defendant’s family members about replacing a defense lawyer in the case.
The constant and unexpected emergence of informants has unsettled the defense team. At the court hearing on Thursday, several defense lawyers complained to Judge Kelly that they had no idea if there were more informants hiding in the wings.
“There’s more C.H.S.s than there are defendants in this case,” Sabino Jauregui, one of Mr. Tarrio’s lawyers said, using an abbreviation for confidential human source, the F.B.I. official term for an informant.
“I asked my intern the other day if she’s a C.H.S.,” he said.
Festival Recap: San Diego Latino Film Festival 2023 – The UCSD … The UCSD Guardian Online “latino” – Google News
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(NewsNation) — Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have raised concerns that the United States needs to send more weapons, and not to Ukraine, but to Taiwan. This renewed call to arm Taiwan comes as a congressional delegation just wrapped up a surprise trip to the country, where they concluded that a Chinese invasion […]
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Labor takes victory lap on clean energy after doubling the approval of projects Sydney Morning Herald “Renewable Energy” – Google News Puerto Rico Topics and Daily News Review from Michael_Novakhov (11 sites)
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There is a VERY angry ex-governor right now. This man is hemorrhaging rage. And his anger is aimed at young voters. This man is called Scott Walker. He is the former Governor of Wisconsin.
Long ago, he was considered the last great hope of the Republican Party. They wanted him to run for President. Until he actually DID, and the whole world saw what an inept, terrible candidate he was.
And now Scott is raging! His rage is flying out of him, heading west, east, north, and south. It is no doubt one of the worst moments of his life. It’s the moment the republicans in Wisconsin lost some of their power as Democrats took back the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
You see, Walker was a corrupt and terrible governor who enacted legislation to help strip democrats of any power at all. The “Walker years,” as many call them, was the moment in time that Wisconsin started on a downward dog.
Many even moved out of the state. There can be no doubt that Scott Walker was one of the worst governors this country has ever seen. And Walker appears crestfallen that the Democrats won in Wisconsin. So he offered up fiery words, accusing voters of being engaged in “radical indoctrination.”
Have you noted, readers, how much projection the GOP does? They’re the ones, of course, who seek to indoctrinate people into their barbaric ways. All we want is to help people. Scott apparently cannot cope with our win. Because on Thursday, he tweeted his outrage at young voters and school campuses, whom he blamed for this indoctrination.
Walker also says the GOP must counter this indoctrination, or they’ll never win again. I like this last part — about the GOP never winning again. And Walker has it wrong, as usual. Please show me a time any Republican had it RIGHT.
I’m sure — I’m positive that many voters when casting their votes, thought about Scott Walker. I’m sure because many Wisconsinites had said that is when the true misery in their state started.
Walker ran his state with excellent incompetence, gerrymandering the shit out of it and engaging in behavior that turned many a stomach.
Walker, in his tweeting, did not offer any solutions on how to win young voters back. That is likely because he doesn’t have any. And he sees the writing on the wall. That’s where his rage comes from. He sees the writing on the wall — that the GOP is on its way to being extinct.
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Classified Pentagon documents containing information about US and NATO plans for a Ukrainian offensive and key details of the ongoing war have leaked. And the Biden administration is reportedly demanding they be scrubbed from the internet. Is there a hidden agenda behind the leak?
The New York Times has reported “a significant breach of American intelligence in the effort to aid Ukraine” through the leak of classified documents which have been shared on social media. It correspondents cited “senior Biden administration officials” who apparently tipped the outlet off to the story. Documents circulating on Telegram which closely resemble those referred to by the Times are reproduced at the end of this article.
The Times writes, “Military analysts said the documents appear to have been modified in certain parts from their original format, overstating American estimates of Ukrainian war dead and understating estimates of Russian troops killed. The modifications could point to an effort of disinformation by Moscow, the analysts said… The analysts warned that documents released by Russian sources could be selectively altered to present the Kremlin’s disinformation.”
Neither the New York Times nor the “military analysts” it cited explain how the documents were altered, or why they have the appearance of tampering. However, because the leaked documents have arrived in the form of photographs of printed documents, rather than original files, the possibility of forgery or alteration must be considered.
The leaked documents claim that Russia has sustained troop losses ranging from 16,000 to 17,500 while Ukrainian losses amount to as many as 71,500 – a staggering differential that stands at odds with the triumphalist narrative projected by Kiev. They are dated March 1 2023 and appear to be part of an ongoing briefing effort to analyze the war’s progress and plan a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Grayzone obtained the documents from a public Telegram channel. Though they resemble those described by the Times, we can not confirm their authenticity.
According to the New York Times, the Pentagon is investigating the leak while the White House is “working to get them deleted.” Twitter owner Elon Musk appears to have confirmed the pressure campaign, sarcastically commenting, “Yeah, you can totally delete things from the Internet – that works perfectly and doesn’t draw attention to whatever you were trying to hide at all.”
Yeah, you can totally delete things from the Internet – that works perfectly and doesn’t draw attention to whatever you were trying to hide at all
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 7, 2023
Leaked docs: Ukrainian killed in action outnumber Russians 4:1
Perhaps the most notable piece of information contained in the leaked documents relates to military death tolls, with Ukrainian and Russian losses estimated at about a 4:1 ratio. According to one document, 71,500 Ukrainian troops have been killed in action.
That figure is close to the 100,000 KIA’s cited by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a November 2022 speech, before her comments were retracted. It also tracks closely with statements by one of Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky’s top advisers, Mykhailo Podolyak, who told the BBC in June of last year that Ukraine was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers per day (200 deaths per day over the course of 370 days between the launch of Russia’s military operation and the date of the documents would total 74,000.)
Other American and EU state officials have offered dramatically different figures placing Russian KIA’s over the six figure mark. For instance, Norway’s defense chief has charted 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers dead to Russia’s 180,000, while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Miley asserted that Russian losses are “significantly well over 100,000.”
Another key detail in the documents pertains to the size of the front lines in Donetsk: Russia maintains 91 battalions in the “Donetsk axis” with around 23,000 total personnel, while Ukraine maintains eight brigades and 40 battalions, with 10,000 to 20,000 total personnel.
The documents also outline expectations of weapons deliveries to Ukraine from the US and other NATO countries along with training schedules for Ukrainian forces as a Spring counteroffensive approaches. The timeline spans from January through April, detailing twelve Ukrainian brigades under construction and the weapons they have been or will be supplied. Nine brigades are said to be armed and trained by the US and NATO allies, and six are said to be ready by the end of March, while the rest will be in action by the end of April. The brigades are said to require 253 tanks, 381 mechanized vehicles, 480 motor vehicles and more.
While the documents distributed on Telegram contain important details about NATO and Ukrainian military capacity, and highlight the astounding depth of American involvement in the war, their publication raises a number of questions.
If the documents were partially faked, were they disseminated to help Russia advance its public relations goals, perhaps by minimizing their casualty numbers or inflating those of their foe? They certainly would not be fooling anyone at the Department of Defense, since they obviously have the original files on hand. Or could it be that the United States leaked the documents with faulty intelligence strewn throughout their contents to confuse Russia ahead of a Ukrainian offensive?
There is also the possibility that they are one hundred percent authentic. If so, Ukraine and its Western patrons may have more serious problems than a few leaked documents.
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President Volodymyr Zelenskiy denounced Russian air strikes coinciding with the observance of Orthodox Palm Sunday, including an attack that killed a father and daughter at home in the city of Zaporizhzhia.
Ukraine’s military reported Russian attacks and shelling throughout the front, with the heaviest fighting still focused on two cities in eastern Donetsk region — Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Russian forces have been besieging Bakhmut for months in the longest battle in more than a year of war.
Ukraine’s State Emergencies Service said a 50-year-old man and his daughter, 11, were killed after Russian forces struck a residential building in Zaporizhzhia, in the southeast.
A woman identified as the wife and mother of the victims was pulled from under the rubble.
“This is how the terrorist state marks Palm Sunday,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. “This is how Russia places itself in even greater isolation from the world.”
The president praised several units defending positions in the east and said he hoped Palm Sunday next year “will take place with peace and freedom for all our people”.
The majority of Ukraine’s 41 million people are Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter a week from now.
Pope Francis, who has been critical of Russia’s war, prayed for peace during Easter events in the Vatican: “Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia.”
Russia’s Defence Ministry said its forces had destroyed a depot containing 70,000 tonnes of fuel near Zaporizhzhia. It also said Russian forces had destroyed Ukrainian army warehouses storing missiles, ammunition and artillery in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said more than 40 enemy attacks had been repelled over the past 24 hours.
It said Russian forces had launched unsuccessful advances on areas west of Bakhmut, now largely destroyed but with a pre-war population of 70,000. At least 10 towns and villages had come under Russian shelling.
The report said Russian forces also made no headway in attacks on Avdiivka, a second focus of fighting in the east, and reported widespread Russian shelling in northern regions. Officials in the south said Russian aircraft had used guided bombs against towns in Kherson region.
The military have said Ukrainian forces will keep defending Bakhmut against repeated Russian attacks, though Zelenskiy last week acknowledged that if troops risked being encircled they could be pulled back.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command, said on national television: “The enemy is trying to take our city-fortress at any cost.
“Although it is extremely difficult, we are still in control of the situation. Our units are holding back the enemy and inflicting a maximum of damage.”
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said Russian forces controlled the centre of Bakhmut, with much of their actions now focusing on the city’s railway station.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- On “Fox News Sunday” Senator Lindsey Graham said he’d be open to sending US troops to defend Taiwan.
- The GOP Senator warned that China appears to be preparing to create a blockade around the island nation.
- Warning of Russian and Chinese expansionism, he said the US needs to “up our game.”
Senator Lindsey Graham on Easter Sunday struck a somber tone in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” warning of Russian and Chinese expansionism and saying the United States needs to “up our game” in preparation for global military moves coming this year.
Graham, a GOP Senator from South Carolina, said the problem is “Putin and it’s Xi,” referring to the leaders of Russia and China, who he says are emboldened by the United States’ botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
“I think they’re setting the stage possibly for a blockade of Taiwan, that the Communist Chinese party is going to test us dramatically this year and next year before the election,” Graham told the outlet. “In 1961, the Russians tried to isolate West Berlin. So I’m fearful that the Chinese may be setting conditions to blockade Taiwan in the coming months or weeks, and we need to respond forcefully if they do that.”
That force, Graham said, should include aggressively training Taiwanese forces “so they can fight like Ukrainians,” putting nuclear-tipped missiles back in our submarines, sending F-16 jets to the country, and, if need be, troops to defend the island nation.
“I’d be very much open to using US forces to defend Taiwan because it’s in our national security interest to do so,” Graham said, citing the large supply of high-end microchips created in Taiwan and the risk of allowing China to take control of the technology.
He added: “I would up our game — and if you don’t up your game now you are gonna have a war.”
While some Republican politicians have criticized the United States’ ongoing support of the Ukrainian war effort, Graham has maintained his support of providing military and humanitarian aid, even proposing the White House ramp up hostilities against Russian forces. He has been described by many as a war hawk.
Representatives for Graham did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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The White House is planning to re-up discussions with abortion pill manufacturers and U.S. pharmacy chains on ways to push back against efforts to ban mifepristone, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, as it appeals a Texas court ruling suspending the approval of the drug.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, on Friday suspended approval of mifepristone, which will essentially make sales of the pill illegal in the U.S., while a legal challenge proceeds. A conflicting Washington state ruling on Friday blocks changes to pill sales in 17 states.
In January, the Food and Drug Administration made a regulatory change that made it possible for retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills in the country for the first time, but more than a dozen states have passed laws limiting such sales.
There are no retail pharmacies that are currently certified to dispense mifepristone and many are going through the certification process.
“We are discussing ways to offer them legal support,” one of the sources said of manufacturers and retail pharmacies.
Options being discussed include having the U.S. Department of Justice back any legal challenges brought against manufacturers and pharmacies, and providing legal advice on how they can continue dispensing the pills, the sources said. The DOJ is separately seeking an emergency stay of the Texas order.
The White House does not direct the DOJ’s litigation strategy, a senior administration official said. The official also said the Justice Department does not provide legal advice to private entities. There is a separate volunteer process that gets private attorneys and law firms to do legal work on different issues that the agency oversees.
It was not immediately clear which companies will be involved in these discussions. The White House declined comment.
Major U.S. manufacturers of abortion pills include GenBioPro Inc and Danco Laboratories. Pharmacy chains dispensing such pills include Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O) , CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) and Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N).
Walgreens said in March it would not dispense abortion pills in the 20 states where it risked breaking the law.
On Sunday, Walgreens declined comment. The other companies did not respond to a request for comment on any discussions with the White House.
The administration official said the White House has “absolutely previously connected with both pharmacies and manufacturers but we have not had any discussions on this since Friday when the decision came out.”
Any potential future conversations will not include decisions that impact “how the FDA will operate or is operating,” the official said.
The White House’s Gender Policy Council, Inter Governmental Affairs and the vice president’s office have been holding strategy calls for nearly two months on how to make medical abortion available after the Texas judge ruled, anticipating Friday’s outcome.
Discussions between the Biden administration and pill manufacturers and pharmacies over the issue have been ongoing for months, sources said, but Friday’s decision brings fresh urgency.
A flurry of White House strategy calls on Friday and Saturday also focused on “immediate, short-term” relief offered by the conflicting order from Washington state , three sources said.
Minutes after Texas judge Kacsmaryk’s order, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice in Spokane, Washington, an Obama appointee, ordered the FDA not to make any changes to mifepristone access in some Democrat-led states.
The administration believes that the Washington ruling gives it more time to respond legally to Texas’s final decision. It could “expedite review of Texas, encourage an immediate stay on it and puts a huge question mark over it,” one of the sources said.
Politically, the sources said, it makes it easier for the White House to make its case to the public that the FDA approval of the drug was accurate, mobilize activists and supporters to turn the issue into one that resonates with voters ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.
“There’s a lot of legal analysis that needs to get done…about how these two orders interact,” the senior administration official said.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris said on Friday the administration will fight the Texas ruling.
“We’re going to fight it. The Attorney General has announced @TheJusticeDept will file an appeal and seek an immediate stay of the decision,” Biden tweeted.
The legal battle is likely to work through multiple levels of appeals courts over a period of months or years before it is resolved.
The administration is seeking an emergency stay of Kacsmaryk’s order from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The path forward discussed during the White House strategy calls touched on how the DOJ will wait for a decision from the 5th Circuit, which has a conservative reputation, the sources said.
If it does not stay the ruling, the department will seek an expedited review by the Supreme Court, they said.
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