Good morning. We’re protecting NATO’s intensifying protection, the Taliban’s abrupt reversal on women’ training and Julian Assange’s jail marriage.
Amid talks, NATO bolsters its defenses
NATO introduced on Wednesday that it could double its military presence on its japanese entrance. The extra 4 combat-ready, battalion-size units had been deploying in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
President Biden arrived in Brussels for a rare technique session, the place he’ll press European allies for much more aggressive sanctions on Russia. Here’s the latest.
But Europeans really feel the affect of sanctions and the battle extra acutely than Americans, and NATO members try to defend Ukraine with out straight participating with Russia.
European leaders could also be particularly unwilling to observe the U.S. in stopping purchases of Russian oil and gasoline: The E.U., on common, will get 40 % of its pure gasoline and 1 / 4 of its oil from Russia. Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, which has the biggest financial system in Europe, mentioned halting such purchases would imperil “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Escalation: The U.S. is quietly making contingency plans in case President Vladimir Putin unleashes Russia’s stockpiles of chemical, organic or nuclear weapons. Even with out excessive weapons, Russia has all but obliterated on a regular basis civilian life in Ukraine.
State of the battle:
The newest Western intelligence reviews point out that Russian forces remain stalled. A senior NATO official mentioned round 15,000 Russian troopers might need died, greater than double the Pentagon’s determine of round 7,000.
On Wednesday, the U.S. authorities formally concluded that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine.
The French automobile firm Renault has halted its operations in Russia.
Wary of how Russia may react, Israel rejected requests from Ukraine and Estonia to buy and use Pegasus, a strong spyware and adware device.
Russia’s invasion has proven Germany — which swiftly started its largest rearmament program because the finish of the Cold War — to be a weak link in NATO.
Taliban reneges on women’ colleges
In an abrupt reversal, the Taliban mentioned women’ excessive colleges in Afghanistan would remain closed till officers might guarantee their accordance with Islamic regulation, saying that feminine academics and a non secular uniform had been wanted. Girls’ colleges had been speculated to open this week.
Wednesday’s reversal is a major blow to the Taliban’s worldwide credibility: The transfer got here a bit of greater than every week earlier than the U.N. had hoped donor international locations would decide to extra humanitarian help to Afghanistan.
It might additionally threaten that funding. The worldwide group has made women’ training a central situation of international funding and any future recognition of the Taliban.
Context: Afghanistan is grappling with an financial collapse that has left over half of the inhabitants with out ample meals.
Details: Over a million women had deliberate to return to class on Wednesday. Some did, solely to be pressured to return house. “They came to my office, crying,” a principal in Kabul mentioned.
Julian Assange marries in jail
The WikiLeaks founder wed Stella Moris, his longtime associate with whom he has two younger youngsters, on the London jail the place he has been held since 2019. Supporters of the couple had been inspired to attend a “solidarity vigil” exterior the power, Belmarsh Prison.
It was not instantly clear who attended the ceremony, or if the couple was allowed to carry a reception or spend time alone afterward.
Background: Assange is combating extradition to the United States on espionage fees. After years of courtroom battles, Britain’s Supreme Court refused his latest appeal to stop his extradition.
Details: In an essay in The Guardian that was printed on Wednesday, Moris wrote that each side of the personal ceremony was being intensely policed. WikiLeaks posted footage on Twitter of Moris after the ceremony.
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