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BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF


Russia

  • The U.S., UK, and Canada accused the Russian hacking group APT29 (aka “Cozy Bear”)—one of the groups accused of hacking DNC emails back in 2016—of now using custom malware to steal COVID-19 vaccine research.

  • American intelligence thinks the hacks were probably aimed at advancing Russia’s own vaccine work, rather than sabotaging other countries’ progress.

  • Russian officials said they had no idea who was hacking into foreign research, and one official even framed the accusations as an attempt to discredit Russia’s own (stolen?) work on a vaccine.

China

  • The Trump administration is reportedly considering banning travel to the U.S. by ALL members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families, which is to say: basically everyone in China who could afford to travel to the U.S. (the order would affect 90 million people). An initial NYT report about the possible order says Pres. Trump may still reject it. It would certainly face retaliation.

  • Hong Kong reportedly told Taiwanese officials their visas would only be renewed if they sign a document affirming Beijing’s claim to Taiwan. Taiwanese officials called it an “unnecessary political obstacle.”

Afghanistan

  • The Taliban says it has freed 845 government troops—of 1,000 total that it committed to freeing—and remains “fully committed” to its Feb. 29th deal with the U.S. (although it keeps attacking Afghan government assets, and the government says the detainees the Taliban freed were civilians rather than security forces). The Afghan government has released 4,050 Taliban prisoners of the 5,000 promised in that deal.

Venezuela

  • Former New Mexico Governor (and ex-U.S. Ambassador to the UN) Bill Richardson said he met with Pres. Maduro yesterday, but was unable to secure the release of U.S. citizens jailed there under accusations that they led a failed coup against Maduro in May.

  • The U.S. Southern Command sent the guided-missile destroyer Pinckney on a freedom of navigation mission off the coast of Venezuela to challenge Venezuela’s “excessive maritime claims in international waters” (the U.S. accuses Venezuela of “improperly claim[ing]” waters that lie three nautical miles outside of its 12-mile sea territory).

Azerbaijan

  • Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to a ceasefire, but it collapsed after a day and they returned to shelling.

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