Defense & National Security — Biden huddles with allies in Europe
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President Biden was in Europe on Thursday meeting with allies and partners as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags into its second month.
More on that, plus the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol is seeking contempt charges against two former Trump officials.
For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. Write to me with tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s get to it!
Biden unveils new Russian sanctions
President Biden was in Europe on Thursday participating in meetings with European allies as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second month.
While in Europe, the president attended a NATO summit and a Group of Seven (G-7) meeting in Brussels.
The Biden administration has been scrambling to bolster Kyiv’s defenses so it can fend off Russia’s war and has unveiled crippling sanctions on Moscow.
A new round of sanctions: The president unveiled sanctions on 328 members of Russia’s legislative body, as well as the Duma itself.
Washington is also sanctioning 17 board members of Sovcombank, one of the largest Russian financial institutions, as well as 48 Russian defense enterprises that have been producing equipment for the war effort, including helicopters and tactical missiles.
The administration also announced sanctions on Herman Gref, who is the head of Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and Gennady Timchenko, a wealthy businessman and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In addition to the sanctions, the U.S. and European allies unveiled an initiative intended to better enforce existing sanctions on Russia.
The White House said the G-7 and European Union will also work to prevent Russia from using its international reserves, including gold, to prop up its economy in the face of sanctions that have crippled Russian financial markets and diminished the value of the ruble.
TOUTING NATO’S COLLECTIVE DEFENSE
Following the NATO summit, President Biden on touted four new battle groups Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary as “a strong signal that we will collectively defend and protect every inch of NATO territory.”
The president said that the U.S. will develop new plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO’s defenses between now and the next summit in June.
“We will adopt an updated Strategic Concept to ensure NATO is ready to meet any challenge in the new and more dangerous security environment,” Biden said in his statement, adding that NATO is strong and united.
In a separate press conference, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the alliance agreed to strengthen cyber defenses and equipment to help Ukraine “protect against biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear defense.”
Those defenses include detection equipment, protection and medical supplies, and training for decontamination and crisis management.
Something to watch for: Following Biden’s meeting at NATO, a senior administration official told reporters that U.S. and allies are working to send anti-ship missiles to Ukraine.
“We have started consulting with Allies on providing anti-ship missiles to Ukraine,” the official said.
“There may be some technical challenges with making that happen, but that is something that we are consulting with Allies and starting to work on,” they continued.
Jan. 6 panel seeking more contempt charges
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol will seek contempt charges against two former Trump officials who have failed to comply with subpoenas from the panel.
Dan Scavino, President Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, was among the first four people to be subpoenaed by the committee last year, though they faced delays in officially serving him.
Peter Navarro, a former trade adviser to Trump, was subpoenaed last month after passages from his own book appeared to show he was involved in plans to delay certification of the presidential election.
What led to subpoenas? Scavino was subpoenaed by the committee last September, with the panel pointing to reporting suggesting he was with Trump on Jan. 5 as they weighed how to convince lawmakers to vote against certifying President Biden’s electoral victory.
He also promoted the Jan. 6 rally and may have had outtakes of recordings of the video Trump sent to supporters later that day encouraging them to go home.
Navarro was subpoenaed after writing of his involvement in a book released last fall, as well as in a three-part series on his website, dubbed the Navarro Report.,
What’s to come? The committee will meet Monday to vote on whether to hold the two men in contempt of Congress, a move that would forward the matter to the full House for a vote.
Should the full House vote to censure the men, the matter could then be taken up by the Justice Department, where each count risks up to a year of jail time as well as $100,000 in fines.
Recapping past precedent: The Department of Justice has already pursed charges against one-time White House strategist Steve Bannon, who will face trial in June.
It has not yet acted on a similar vote on Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, who was censured by the House in December.
Biden to ask for $813B defense budget
President Biden is expected to ask for $813.3 billion in defense and national security spending for fiscal 2023, officials familiar with the plan told Bloomberg.
The request would represent a $31 billion increase over the $782 billion in defense spending included in the government funding bill Biden signed into law earlier this month.
Of that number, $773 billion would be for the Pentagon, the outlet reported.
A large investment: A White House official didn’t confirm the number when asked by The Hill, but said the president’s budget request would be “one of the largest investments in national security in U.S. history.”
The official said that the request would support continued security assistance to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s invasion. It will also “invest in strengthening our defense, the security of the Indo-Pacific, and the NATO alliance.”
GOP demands increase: The president asked for $753 billion in overall defense and national security spending for fiscal 2022, but that was ultimately increased to $782 billion.
Forty Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees wrote a letter to Biden on Wednesday asking him to increase the national defense budget by 5 percent above inflation, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other threats from North Korea and Iraq.
“The security of the free world depends on a credible American military,” the lawmakers wrote. “We must work together to ensure the men and women of our Armed Services have the resources and support they need to successfully carry out their missions now and for decades to come.”
On Tap Tomorrow
- Latvian President Egils Levits will participate in a Washington Post Live discussion on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at 10 a.m.
- The U.S. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran will hold an online conference to discuss “Iran’s internal situation, Tehran’s nuclear and regional defiance, its support for the invasion of Ukraine and prospects for fundamental change” at 11 a.m.
- FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will participate in a discussion hosted by the Center for A New American Security at 1 p.m.
What We’re Reading
- Pentagon: Russian defense officials have declined to take 20multiple calls from US counterparts
- Biden says he supports 21removing Russia from G-20
- Mariupol signals 23chilling future of Putin’s war on Ukraine
- DHS implements rule to 19streamline asylum applications
- White House has team in place to respond to 17potential chemical weapons use by Russia
- Biden discusses North Korean 18missile launch with Japanese prime minister
- Russian troop fatalities in Ukraine 22nearing losses over 10 years in Afghanistan
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