Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — US pushes allies to reject Russian annexation effort

FILE – A military vehicle drives along a street with a billboard that reads: “With Russia forever, September 27”, prior to a referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk People’s Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. Four occupied regions in Ukraine are set to start voting Friday Sept. 23, 2022 in Kremlin-engineered referendums on whether to become part of Russia, setting the stage for Moscow to annex the areas in a sharp escalation of the nearly seven-month war. (AP Photo/File)

The U.S. is mobilizing its allies to reject Russian attempts to annex territory in Ukraine, something Kyiv hopes will spark more military support.

We’ll break down what’s to come. Plus, we’ll talk about a bipartisan effort in the Senate to include a critical munitions acquisition fund for Ukraine in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

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. Subscribe here.

US mobilizes allies amid Russia nuclear threats 

The U.S. and its allies are mobilizing the international community to reject Russian attempts to annex territory in Ukraine, in a move that Kyiv hopes will spur greater military support to deliver Moscow a decisive battlefield defeat.   

Hawkish supporters of Ukraine say now is the time for the U.S., Europe and NATO to increase the delivery of heavy artillery, tanks and war planes to Kyiv despite nuclear weapons threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin.   

Putin under pressure: Putin is under pressure in Russia because of the battlefield misfires and the chaotic rollout of his mobilization order for 300,000 troops. The Ukrainian military’s stunning counter-offensive in the north-east led Putin to move to mobilize more troops, which has received a negative reaction in Russia.   

William Taylor, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and vice president of the Russia and Europe program at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said the news is helping the U.S. effort.   

“My bet is that the [global] reaction would be to double down on support for the Ukrainians on the battlefield,” he said. “The Russians have a big manpower problem and now’s the time for the Ukrainians, reinforced by these weapons… to allow them to break through the Russian lines and push the Russians out.” 

A preview of what’s to come: The U.S. and United Kingdom have warned that what they call “sham” votes in four Ukrainian territories are an effort to annex Ukrainian territory while justifying the war to the Russian public.   

The U.K. Ministry of Defense tweeted on Tuesday that Putin is likely to use an address to the Russian Parliament on Friday “to formally announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”    

“Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict,” the ministry tweeted.   

Consequences for annexation: Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the U.S. is readying sanctions if Russia moves forward on annexation. 

“We are prepared and we will impose additional severe and swift costs on Russia for proceeding with the annexations,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday.   

“Ukraine has the absolute right to defend itself throughout its territory, including to take back the territory that has been illegally seized, one way or another, by Russia,” he added. “The weapons that we and many other countries are providing have been used very effectively to do just that.” 

Israel, which has maintained strategic ties with Moscow despite its invasion of Ukraine, released a statement Tuesday rejecting any results from the referendums.  

As for the mobilization: There have been multiple reports of opposition to Putin’s military mobilization order, with angry protests popping up in Russia’s far-flung territories, a shooting at an enlistment center in a Siberian city and reports of long queues of military-age men looking to flee the country.    

The U.K. on Monday announced sanctions against 92 Russian officials and entities it says are involved in carrying out the referendums.

Read more here.  

Congress adds $12.3B in Ukraine aid to funding bill

Congressional appropriators have included $12.3 billion in security and financial assistance to Ukraine as part of its proposed continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 16. 

The top line of the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act is $1.4 billion below the $13.7 billion the White House requested for Ukraine, but comes as the administration seeks to sustain the pace of assistance it is providing Kyiv.   

The Senate was scheduled to hold a vote at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday that would serve as the legislative vehicle for the continuing resolution if approved. 

Read more here.

SENATORS WANT CRITICAL MUNITIONS FUND IN NDAA

A bipartisan group of senators want to include the Department of Defense’s request for a critical munitions acquisition fund to be included in the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

The senators, led by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), introduced the Promoting Readiness for Overseas Contingencies and Unexpected Responses to Exigencies (Procure) Act — aimed at ensuring the U.S. has enough critical munition stocks to support allies and partners without depleting American stocks. 

The senators said they planned to file the bill as an amendment to the NDAA “in the coming days.” 

The co-sponsors: Shaheen and Tillis are joined by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). 

We’ve seen this: A provision establishing a “Ukraine Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund” was included as an amendment in the version of the NDAA passed by the House in July. 

That amendment, filed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), authorizes up to $500 million per year for a revolving fund to procure munitions before transferring weapons to other countries in anticipation of sustaining operations in Ukraine. 

Not everyone’s on board: Senate appropriators felt differently about the proposal than their Armed Services counterparts. 

A report accompanying the Senate Appropriations Committee’s $850 billion defense appropriation proposal says that a Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund is “narrowly focused on procurement of small amounts of certain munitions to be decided in the year of execution.” 

“By design, this approach does not address the broader challenges of strategic investment and management of the [Defense Industrial Base] and the supply chain,” it continued. 

Read more here.

Lawmakers sound alarm over North Dakota land sale

Fifty-one lawmakers in a new letter are raising alarm over a Chinese-based manufacturer’s acquisition of land near a U.S. Air Force base in North Dakota.   

In a letter to the secretaries of Defense, Agriculture and the Treasury, the lawmakers, led by Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), call the property purchase by the Fufeng Group an “alarming development for our national security.” 

The Fufeng Group has “close links” to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the letter asserts, and the acquisition of land north of the Grand Forks Air Force Base puts the Chinese firm in “the ideal location to closely monitor and intercept military activity.”  

The chemical manufacturer is reportedly planning $700 million project for the North Dakota land, its first U.S.-based facility. 

Read more here

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold “A Conversation with Thomas West in the Context of Afghanistan One Year Later” at 9 a.m. 
  • The Stimson Center will hold a discussion on “Practical Guidance for Strengthening Arms and Dual-Use Trade Controls” at 9 a.m. 
  • The Center for European Policy Analysis will begin the second day of the 2022 CEPA Forum at 9:30 a.m. 
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “Keeping the Pressure on Russia and its Enablers: Examining the Reach of and Next Steps for U.S. Sanctions” at 10 a.m.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “From Nuremberg to Ukraine: Accountability for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity” at 10 a.m. 
  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a conversation with H.E. Hoshyar Zebari at 10:30 a.m. 
  • The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will hold a discussion on “A Decisive Moment in Ukraine” at 11 a.m. 
  • Defense One will host “State of Defense: Space Force” at 12:30 p.m. 
  • The Hudson Institute will host a discussion on “Establishing and Fortifying US National Security Supply Chains” 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!

VIEW THE FULL EDITION HERE

Tags Antony Blinken NDAA north dakota Russian war in Ukraine Ukraine invasion Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin William Taylor

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