Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — US, allies go after Russia during UN meeting  

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center left, speaks during a high level Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The U.S. and its allies vowed to punish Russia over its invasion of Ukraine at a meeting of the United Nations’ Security Council.  

We’ll break down the highlights from the meeting. Plus, we’ll preview Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart following President Biden’s recent comments on Taiwan. 

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.

Ukraine’s allies vow to punish Russia 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top diplomats allied with Ukraine squared off with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a meeting of the United Nations Security Council Thursday, confronting Russia on alleged war crimes and pledging to prosecute those responsible. 

The Security Council meeting was taking place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a televised address mobilizing 300,000 troops to ramp up the war in Ukraine. 

What Blinken said: “That President Putin picked this week, as most of the world gathers at the United Nations, to add fuel to the fire that he started shows his utter contempt for the U.N. Charter for the General Assembly and for this council,” Blinken said.  

  • “The very international order that we have gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes. We cannot, we will not allow President Putin to get away with it.” 
  • Blinken also noted the chorus of condemnation toward Russia’s war during the General Assembly coming from “countries developing and developed, big and small, north and south.” 
  • “Even a number of nations that maintain close ties with Moscow have said publicly that they have serious questions and concerns about President Putin’s ongoing invasion,” he added. 

Ukraine weighs in: The Security Council meeting was attended by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who told a press conference before the meeting that he would “keep safe social distance with” Lavrov, in one of the few instances where the two diplomats would be in the same room. 

Kuleba used his remarks at the council to call for establishing a special tribunal to put “President Putin and his entourage on trial … for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.” 

“And Russia should know one thing: It will never be able to kill all of us,” he added.   

What the ICC said:United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres bluntly blamed Russia for the deaths and injuries of civilians.  

Those remarks were followed by the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, who — while not blaming Russia specifically — rejected claims from Moscow of staged atrocities in Ukrainian villages where mass graves and bodies lying in the streets suggested Russian war crimes.  

  • “When I went to Bucha and went behind St. Andrew’s Church, the bodies I saw were not fake,” Khan said, adding the ICC is determined to investigate crimes that fall within the court’s jurisdiction. 
  • “We must demonstrate the resolve and the determination and the principle in order not to disappoint and fail those that are in most need of the law as we speak.” 

Support for Russia: Russia received only tepid support from countries that have maintained ties with Moscow.  

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing supports “dialogue and negotiations without preconditions” and that “sovereignty, territorial integrity of all countries should be respected.” 

Read the full story here.  

Blinken to meet with Chinese counterpart 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet this week with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the State Department said on Thursday. 

The meeting is set for Friday and comes after President Biden gave an emphatic “yes” when asked if U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if China invaded, in an interview with CBS’s “60 minutes” that aired on Sunday. 

The Chinese foreign ministry made a formal complaint, issuing “stern representations” following Biden’s remarks, which the White House argued did not constitute a change in U.S. policy. 

What China said: “As part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and manage competition responsibly, the Secretary will discuss a range of bilateral and global issues with” the People’s Republic of China State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the statement read. 

Rising tensions: China views any efforts by foreign governments to elevate relations with Taiwan as a red line and considers the self-governed island an inalienable part of the mainland. 

The U.S. position toward Taiwan, and Biden’s repeated statements that American forces would defend the democratic island, have infuriated the Chinese. Relations between Washington and Beijing have continued to devolve over a host of security, military, geopolitical, economic and environmental issues. 

Read the full story here.  

‘FAT LEONARD’ ARRESTED IN VENEZUELA

Leonard Francis, better known as “Fat Leonard,” has been arrested in Venezuela after he escaped from home confinement earlier this month while awaiting sentencing in connection to the biggest U.S. military corruption case in the last decade.  

Francis, a Malaysian former military contractor, pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges of bribing U.S. Navy officials as part of a $35 million bribery scandal. He was assigned to house arrest in San Diego weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced but allegedly cut off his GPS monitor and left on Sept. 4.  

Francis arrived in Venezuela from Mexico and planned to make a stop in Cuba before going to Russia, Venezuela’s Interpol Chief Carlos Gárate Rondón said in an Instagram post Wednesday.  

Rondón said Francis was arrested at Simón Bolívar International Airport in the city of Maiquetía as he was about to leave the country and will be turned over to Venezuela’s judicial authorities to start extradition proceedings. 

Read more here.  

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

  • The Belfer Center will host a discussion on “Beyond the Nuclear Canon: Teaching the Bomb in the 21st Century” at 10 a.m. 
  • The Hudson Institute will host an event on “The Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict and the American Interest” at 12 p.m. 
  • The Middle East Institute will host His Excellency Rashad al-Alimi of the Republic of Yemen at 3 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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Tags Antony Blinken Biden Dmytro Kuleba Sergey Lavrov Vladimir Putin
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