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Biden to reportedly withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021



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President Joe Biden is expected to announce a plan to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, The Washington Post reports. He is expected to make the announcement on Wednesday.

The Pentagon confirmed to this reporter that they are aware of the reports, but wouldn’t comment on the stories and deferred any questions to the White House. The White House didn’t immediately respond.

Currently, the Pentagon says there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There’s been a presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan for 19 years.

Daniel Hoffman is a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency. In a phone interview with this reporter on Tuesday, Hoffman questioned whether Biden has a plan to combat the existing and growing national security threats from terrorist groups in the region like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

In a recent op-ed for The Washington Times, Hoffman wrote that Biden should be careful not to let the region become a safe haven for terrorists. “Cognizant that the Obama administration’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 helped create the conditions for ISIS to flourish, Mr. Biden should keep firmly in mind the distinction between an ‘endless war’ and a forward-deployed U.S. presence — strictly limited in personnel and scope and buttressed by allied contributions — that defends our clear national interests and doesn’t outsource them to unreliable partners or hostile actors.”

Moreover, Hoffman said Biden’s reasoning for making the deadline September 11 seemed “political.” “That date has a very serious meaning for us,” he said, referring to the 2001 Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Biden has previously indicated his future plans to draw down the number of troops in the region and recently said he “can’t picture” having U.S. troops there next year.

A May 1 deadline remains in place for Biden to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan under a deal brokered between the Trump administration and the Taliban. Biden, however, has been opposed to the Trump-Taliban deal while still supporting a pull-out of U.S. troops. However, he has yet to provide a definitive timeline.

Last month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kabul where he met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. On a later February 5 call, Austin and Ghani spoke of the need for a deal to end the war and agreed on working towards peace.

Follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer

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U.S. Commerce Department: Chinese firms are supplying Russian entities



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On Tuesday, the United States Commerce Department said several companies in China are supplying Russia’s military. The announcement was made alongside a “new round of blacklist restrictions for foreign firms aiding Moscow’s war against Ukraine” reports National Review.

“These entities have previously supplied items to Russian entities of concern before February 24, 2022 and continue to contract to supply Russian entity listed and sanctioned parties after Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine,” stated an official Commerce Department notice posted to the Federal Register.

“Commerce also blacklisted several Chinese companies and Chinese government research institutes for their work on naval-technology and supplying Iran with U.S. tech in a way that harms America’s national security” adds National Review.

Six companies that are helping further the Russian invasion are also based in Lithuania, Russia, the U.K., Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

National Review reports:

The Commerce Department stopped short of blaming the Chinese government for the sanctions-evasion activity it identified today. Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo previously said that there doesn’t appear to be any “systemic efforts by China to go around our export controls.” The Biden administration has publicly and privately warned Beijing against supporting the Russian war, with White House officials even leaking to the press about an effort to present China’s ambassador in Washington with information about Russian troop movements ahead of the invasion.

While Beijing has not expressed outright support for the invasion, it has used its propaganda networks to back Moscow’s narrative. Meanwhile, top Chinese and Russian officials have moved to solidify the “no-limits” partnership they declared in early February. General secretary Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin held a call this month, marking the construction of a new bridge between their two countries, during which they reiterated their support for the burgeoning geopolitical alignment.

National-security adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that the U.S. has no indications that Beijing has provided Russia with military equipment. A Finnish think tank, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, estimated on June 12 that Chinese imports of Russian oil since the outset of the conflict have amounted to $13 billion, making China the biggest consumer of the country’s oil exports. Previously, it was Germany. “While Germany cut back on purchases since the start of the war, China’s oil and gas imports from Russia rose in February and remained at a roughly constant level since,” the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission noted.

Official advisor Anton Gerashchenko tweeted incredible video of Ukrainian soldiers sweeping through fields, writing “this is how our fields are de-mined so that farmers can harvest crops.”  On Monday a Russian missile struck a mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, where over 1,000 civilians were inside.

“Almost two dozen people were still missing Tuesday one day after a Russian airstrike struck a Ukrainian shopping mall and killed 18 civilians inside…On top of the 18 dead and 21 people missing, Ukrainian Interior Minster Denis Monastyrsky said 59 were injured. Several of the dead were burned beyond recognition” reported the New York Post.



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