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June 28, 2017

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Ukraine at Center of Global Cyberattack

Computer systems in Europe, Asia, and the United States were hit Tuesday by a ransomware attack that has crippled tens of thousands of computers worldwide (NYT). Ukraine seemed to be a main target of the hack, which appears similar to a virus known as Petya that emerged last year. The attack reached computers belonging to the Ukrainian government (RFE/RL) and postal service, as well as banks, an international airport, and the Chernobyl nuclear facility. Russia-based security firm Kaspersky Lab said the attack had caused some two thousand incidents (BBC), mostly in Ukraine, Russia, and Poland. Maersk, the largest operator of containerships, closed terminals around the globe (WSJ) and said many of its computer systems were still out as of Wednesday morning.

ANALYSIS

"It is the second massive attack in the past two months to use powerful U.S. exploits in attacks against the IT infrastructure that supports national governments and corporations," David Filipov, Andrew Roth, and Ellen Nakashima write for the Washington Post.

"In addition to the ongoing kinetic threat of military action against Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, there have been two major cyberattacks on Ukraine's electric grids in December 2015 and December 2016," Rep. Michael McCaul said in this CFR event.

"The source for Petya's ransomware code had been available on the dark web since April, and been used multiple times," Alfred Ng writes for CNET.

PACIFIC RIM

South Korea's Moon to Meet Trump

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with North Korea (NYT), will meet U.S. President Donald J. Trump at the White House on Thursday. Moon halted the deployment of a U.S. missile shield in South Korea earlier this month.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at North Korea's military capabilities.

INDONESIA: Indonesian authorities imposed a twenty-day travel ban on billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo (Reuters), who is building hotels that will be managed by U.S. President Trump's company, as they investigate charges that he threatened a prosecutor. 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan Rebukes U.S. Over Kashmiri Militant

Pakistan's interior minister called a U.S. announcement on Monday classifying a Kashmiri militant as a global terrorist "completely unjustified," saying it appears that "the blood of Kashmiris is not at all important” (Dawn) to the United States. The statement came a day after President Trump met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

INDIA: Lodha Group, a business partner of the Trump organization in Mumbai, cut prices of units in a partially constructed Trump tower (FT) by more than $100,000 in a bid to attract buyers before India rolls out a new national sales tax on July 1.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

U.S. Reviewing Air Strike on ISIS Prison

U.S. military officials said they are reviewing allegations by an independent monitoring group that an air strike by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria on a prison run by the self-proclaimed Islamic State killed at least sixty people (VOA). A news outlet in Deir ez-Zour said civilians and rebel fighters were detained (BBC) in the facility.

CFR's Micah Zenko says the United States has relaxed oversight of civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq in the New York Times.

QATAR: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson separately held talks (The National) in Washington on Tuesday with Qatar's foreign minister and Kuwait's cabinet affairs minister as part of an effort to support Kuwait's mediation of a diplomatic dispute between Qatar and a Saudi-led bloc of Arab nations.

CFR's Steven A. Cook, Philip H. Gordon, and Ray Takeyh discuss Qatar's diplomatic crisis.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Sudan Deports Three Americans

A South Sudanese police spokesman said that three Americans, reportedly an active-duty serviceman and two military veterans, were deported from South Sudan to Kenya (Sudan Tribune) for entering the country without valid visas.

ANGOLA: Several U.S. lawmakers called on Angola to drop its prosecution (VOA) of Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais. Marques was charged with insult against public authority after publishing a 2016 article about an allegedly illegal real estate transaction made by the country's attorney general.

EUROPE

Report: One-Third of EU Workers May Leave UK

One-third of non-British workers in the United Kingdom, including nearly one-half of highly skilled EU workers, said they are considering leaving the country in the next five years (Guardian), according to the consulting firm Deloitte.

AMERICAS

Helicopter Drops Grenades on Venezuelan Supreme Court

Venezuela's communications minister said a helicopter reportedly piloted by a former police intelligence officer dropped grenades over the supreme court building (WaPo) on Tuesday. President Nicolas Maduro called the pilot a "terrorist" (Guardian).

CFR's Shannon K. O'Neil discussed what to expect in Venezuela over the coming months.

COLOMBIA: Colombia's top anti-corruption prosecutor was arrested (NYT) in Bogota after U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents recorded him in Florida meetings where a former Colombian governor was asked to pay bribes.

UNITED STATES

Former Trump Campaign Chair Registers as Foreign Agent

Paul Manafort, formerly a campaign manager for President Trump, registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for consulting work worth more than $17 million (RFE/RL) for the pro-Russian party of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort left Trump's campaign after reports emerged that he worked as a lobbyist on behalf of Ukraine.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a London speech Tuesday that globalization and technological change have devastated many middle-income American communities (WSJ).

CFR's Edward Alden and Robert E. Litan lay out a bipartisan plan to assist people left behind by technology and global competition.