Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — Biden to rally world against Russia in UN speech

Joe Biden
FILE – President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with state and local elected officials about reproductive health care, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Aug. 26, 2022, in Washington. Biden will host The Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference, the public health partnership’s fundraising campaign, on Wednesday, Sept. 21, in New York. The start has been delayed by two days so that Biden, who has pledged $6 billion in U.S. government support for the fund, could attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Biden will rally world leaders to stand up against Russia’s “naked aggression” toward Ukraine in remarks to the United Nations General Assembly.  

We’ll dive deep into his speech. Plus, we’ll talk about the Naming Commission’s recommendations to rename or remove more than 1,100 military assets linked to the confederacy.   

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

President speaking against Russia’s aggression

President Biden will call on world leaders to stand up against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly. 

  • Biden will address the international body on Wednesday as he seeks to rally support to push back against Russia amid Ukraine’s recent gains on the battlefield. 
  • He will address the United Nations General Assembly while facing an international crisis for a second consecutive year. Last year, Biden arrived in New York City roughly a month after the U.S. pulled its forces out of Afghanistan in a chaotic withdrawal.

A ‘firm rebuke’ of Russia: “Among other things, he’ll offer a firm rebuke of Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we’ve seen the past several months,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday. 

“The main thrust of his presentation will really be about the United Nations charter. About the foundational principle at the heart of that charter, that countries cannot conquer their neighbors by force,” Sullivan added. 

‘Increasingly strong headwinds:’ Sullivan noted that neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in New York for the meetings. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to be in attendance. 

“Our competitors are facing increasingly strong headwinds and neither President Xi nor President Putin are even showing up,” he said. 

A challenge ahead: Building support for Ukraine at the U.N. could prove difficult for Biden, as many members have either been sympathetic to Russia or antagonistic toward the United States. Russia sits on the U.N. Security Council, and as a result has the ability to thwart efforts to hold Moscow accountable. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in his speech at the U.N. on Tuesday criticized the economic impact of Western sanctions, but did not mention Russia in his remarks. 

Other things to watch for: In the annual speech, Biden will also lay out his vision for American foreign policy and principal leadership, Sullivan said. 

  • “He will make significant new announcements about the U.S. government’s investments to address global food insecurity and he’ll lay out in detail how the U.S. has restored its global leadership and the integrity of its word on the world stage by delivering on the promises we make and he has made as president,” he said. 
  • The president will hold his first one-on-one meeting with the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss, and plans to host world leaders and their spouses while in New York. He will also host a session on combating AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide. 

Read the full story here.  

BIDEN NOMINATES RUSSIA AMBASSADOR

President Biden on Tuesday nominated Lynne Tracy to serve as ambassador to the Russian Federation to navigate a tense relationship between U.S. and Russia amid the war in Ukraine. 

Tracy currently serves as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, a post that she’s held since 2019. 

Before that, she was the senior adviser for Russia in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and was the deputy chief of mission at U.S. Embassy in Moscow. 

Former ambassador John Sullivan left Russia earlier this month after serving in the post for almost three years. His time in that particular position included Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in February. Biden retained Sullivan, who was former President Trump’s appointee. 

The administration said Sullivan’s departure, which appeared abrupt, was planned and a new ambassador would be named soon. 

Read more here.  

Panel: Rename, remove Confederacy-linked assets

The commission in charge of reviewing military bases and assets named after Confederate figures has put forward its final suggestions to rename or remove more than 1,100 items that fall under the purview of the Defense Department (DoD).    

In its third and final report to Congress, delivered Monday, the Naming Commission flags several of the recommended changes among the hundreds.   

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Congress now must sign off on the proposed changes before they can take effect.   

Suggested name changes: Among other suggestions, the recommendations include:  

  • Stripping the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery 
  • Altering street, school and building names 
  • Renaming two Navy ships 
  • Examining four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works 

The panel does not go so far as to give name recommendations for those civil works, instead punting the job to Congress due to some of the assets being jointly owned by DoD and individual states, according to the report.    

Earlier recommendations: Earlier this summer the group suggested the Army change the names of nine bases currently honoring Confederate generals.   

In part-two of the commission’s report released last month, the panel identified items that carry Confederate figures’ names at the military academies.    

The group’s report suggested that the West Point U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy rename landmarks and structures that commemorate Robert E. Lee and other Confederate officers.   

Read the full story here.  

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

  • The last day of the Air Force Association’s 2022 Air Space and Cyber Conference will begin at 8:15 a.m. 
  • The Foundation for Defense of Democracies will hold a discussion on “Assessing America’s Cyber Resiliency: A Conversation with The CSC 2.0 Co-Chairs” at 8:30 a.m. 
  • The Defense Strategies Institute will hold the 11th Annual Military Tactical Communications Summit at 8:45 a.m. 
  • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will hold a discussion on “New Paradigm for Cyber Competition: A Conversation on Cyber Persistent Theory” at 10 a.m. 
  • The Stimson Center will hold a discussion on “Deepening U.S.-Japan Alliance Cooperation in the Face of Global Challenges” at 10:30 a.m. 
  • The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel will hold a hearing on “Update on the Implementation of Recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military and the Establishment of the Office of Special Trial Counsel” at 2 p.m.  
  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “Russia’s Malign Use of Private Military Companies” at 2 p.m. 
  • The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Ensuring Veterans’ Timely Access to Care in VA and the Community” at 3 p.m. 
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing “To receive testimony on the status of military recruiting and retention efforts across the Department of Defense” at 3:30 p.m. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!

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