The Biden administration announced $1 billion in additional military aid for Ukraine, aid that comes as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said it was ‘a pivotal moment’ in the fight of Kyiv against Russia.
We’ll detail the contents of the latest package and the United States’ message for other Western countries, as well as the House Democrats’ new defense spending proposal and more on the White House’s next step with its controversial meeting in Saudi Arabia. saudi.
It’s Defense and National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. A friend sent you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Austin warns of ‘pivotal moment’ in Ukraine war
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Kyiv faces “a pivotal moment” in its fight with Russia, pointing to recent military aid sent to Ukraine by Western allies while urging countries to send more.
Ukraine is currently struggling to prevent Russia from claiming its easternmost region and industrial heartland, known as Donbass, and has stepped up calls for more help from the West with heavy weapons.
“Everyone here is acutely aware of the dangers Ukraine faces as Russia renews its reckless assault on Donbass,” Austin told a news conference in Brussels, after meeting with officials from nearly 50 countries gathered for the third Ukraine Defense meeting. contact group.
A new package: The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a new billion-dollar security assistance package to Ukraine that will include artillery, coastal defense weapons and ammunition to bolster its military in its war of nearly four months with the Kremlin.
- At the press conference, Austin said the package would include High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HMARS) guided munitions, 18 additional howitzers, tactical vehicles and 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition.
- Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier on Wednesday, thanked Washington for the deadly assistance, but stressed that Ukrainian forces “urgently need more heavy weapons delivered more regularly”.
Austin said other countries have also pledged to send more heavy weapons, including Germany, which is sending three multiple-launch rocket systems; Slovakia, which provides Kyiv with helicopters and rocket ammunition; and Canada, Poland and the Netherlands, all sending more artillery.
Continue like that: While addressing Western officials earlier, Austin urged nations not to falter in their support for Ukraine as it faces “a pivotal moment on the battlefield.”
Russia has changed tactics and is increasingly using long-range fire to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions, Austin explained. “We must therefore intensify our joint commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense. And we must push ourselves even harder to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself, its citizens and its territory.
In defense: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who spoke alongside Austin, defended the number and type of weapons the US has already sent to Ukraine , claiming that “no single weapon system ever, quote-unquote, tips the scales”.
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House Dems to propose $802 billion defense policy bill
Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee are expected to propose $802.4 billion in revenue for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2023, a committee aide told The Hill. .
- The revenue, which was first reported by Bloomberg, includes $772.5 billion in discretionary revenue for the Department of Defense, a figure broadly in line with what President Biden has requested. for defense spending.
- It also includes $29.5 billion for the Department of Energy and an additional $400 million for other defense-related activities outside of the Department of Defense.
- The top line does not include $11 billion in national defense spending outside the committee’s jurisdiction and other adjustments, the aide said.
The committee is due to consider the defense bill next week before it heads to the floor of the House. These numbers are subject to change as the committee amends the bill during the markup process.
What the GOP wants: Republicans have pushed for defense spending to be 3-5% above inflation.
Meanwhile…: The Senate Armed Services Committee was scheduled to annotate its version of the NDAA on Wednesday and could continue through Thursday if necessary.
The House Appropriations Committee released its defense spending bill on Tuesday, which includes $761.68 billion for the Pentagon. The committee also released a $314 billion military construction and veterans affairs bill, of which $15.1 billion is earmarked for military construction projects.
The committee is due to annotate the two bills next Wednesday.
Learn more here
White House moves forward with Saudi meeting
The White House is moving forward with a contentious meeting between President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a dramatic reversal of the president’s campaign pledge to make the kingdom’s government a ‘pariah’ on the world stage .
- Plans for the meeting, which was due to take place next month during Biden’s trip to the Middle East, have sparked criticism in Washington, where some have claimed it was sending the wrong signal when it comes to human rights abuses. the man and the murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- The White House itself excluded the meeting from an official statement releasing it on Tuesday, which also mentioned that Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia came at the invitation of Saudi King Salman.
- A senior administration official confirmed late Monday that the president would meet Crown Prince Mohammed while in Saudi Arabia, but stressed it would be held alongside “dozens” of other Gulf leaders.
More details: Meanwhile, the Saudi Embassy, in a statement, provided more substantial details on plans for Biden to meet with the crown prince, saying the two would hold ‘formal talks’ on bilateral relations and a series of questions.
Among these issues will be the global energy supply. High gas prices exacerbated by Kremlin sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine have irked the Biden administration, which has turned to countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to boost global supply in an attempt to lower prices.
Biden and other Middle Eastern leaders are also expected to address Iran, the war in Yemen and Israel’s growing relationship with its Gulf and Arab neighbors.
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JAN. 6 PANEL TO FOCUS ON TRUMP PRESSURE ON PENCE CAMPAIGN
The relationship between former President Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence will take center stage during the committee’s third hearing on January 6 as it examines the “pressure campaign on Vice President Pence waged by the former president.
“Tomorrow’s hearing will focus on former President Trump’s attempts to pressure former Vice President Pence to unilaterally change the election results during the joint session of Congress on January 6” , a select committee aide told reporters.
“Even though advice was swirling around the White House that this scheme was illegal, it was completely baseless, the president nonetheless publicly continued to pressure Mike Pence,” the aide added, something that “directly contributed to the attack on the Capitol”. . And that put the vice president’s life in danger.
The committee previously showed video of a noose brought to the Capitol that day, and relayed that when Trump was told about the chants to “hang Mike Pence,” he reportedly replied, “maybe our supporters have the right idea”.
Learn more here.
ON SALE TOMORROW
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will hold a press conference following the NATO Defense Ministerial at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium
- The National Defense Industrial Association will hold its 2022 Human Systems Conference at 8 a.m.
- Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova will speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at 9 a.m.
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host a virtual discussion on “Korea-Japan Relations and Trilateral Cooperation,” with former National Security Council East Asia Director Christopher Johnstone at 9:45 a.m.
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies will also host a webcast lecture “Assessing Russia’s War in Ukraine,” with former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, at 10 a.m.
- The Hudson Institute will host a virtual discussion on “Regaining Decision Advantage: Overhauling Joint All-Domain Command and Control to Bolster US Deterrence,” at 12 p.m.
- House credits homeland security the subcommittee will annotate its bill for fiscal year 2023 at 9 a.m.
- The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold a hearing on the “January 6 Inquiry,” with testimony from Greg Jacob, former chief counsel for the Vice President, at 10 o’clock.
WHAT WE READ
That’s all for today. Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. Until tomorrow!
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