Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — Russia sends warnings to the West

Hill Illustration, Madeline Monroe/AP, Andrew Harnik/Getty

It’s Monday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here.

President Biden has unveiled his massive $813.3 billion defense and national security spending plan as part of his fiscal 2023 budget request.  

We’ll break down what’s in the proposal and its major aims, plus the stir created over Biden’s comments on Russia, new U.S. aircraft heading to Germany and North Korea’s most recent show of force. 

For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Write me with tips at emitchell@thehill.com. 

Let’s get to it.


Biden unveils $813B request for national security

Biden’s mega-sized defense and national security spending bill comes as the U.S. looks to counter a long list of international threats, including China and Russia.  

It also comes amid a push to modernize the military, including optimizing the country’s naval fleet, supporting Army modernization initiatives and investing in the development of hypersonic long-range strike capabilities to bolster deterrence.  

Largest in history: “I’m calling for one of the largest investments in our national security in history, with the funds needed to ensure that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, best-equipped military in the world,” Biden said in a statement. 

“In addition, I’m calling for continued investment to forcefully respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine with U.S. support for Ukraine’s economic, humanitarian, and security needs,” he continued, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

How it compares: The $813.3 billion request is more than $31 billion, or 4 percent, above the $782 billion in defense spending that was enacted in the $1.5 trillion government funding bill Biden signed earlier this month. 

Biden is proposing $773 billion in discretionary spending for the Pentagon, a $69 billion, or 9.8 percent, increase from the levels enacted in 2021.  

Major aims: The president’s budget request is aimed at prioritizing countering China, the White House said in a fact sheet, referring to Beijing as the Pentagon’s “pacing challenge.” Washington has previously raised alarms about the rapid pace China has been growing some of its weapons capabilities, including hypersonic weapons.   

However, it also comes as Washington scrambles to help support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, which is now in its second month. The budget includes $6.9 billion for NATO, the European Deterrence Initiative and for countering Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 

The budget is further aimed at countering threats posed by Iran, violent extremist organizations and North Korea, which conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile test last Thursday, its first since 2017. 

Read the full story here


Biden muddies line with Putin 

President Biden’s declaration that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” has overshadowed an otherwise successful trip to rally allies against Russian aggression and muddied the line between his personal feelings and official policy. 

Biden on Monday attempted to personally correct his remarks, following up on efforts by the White House.   

An explanation: He said he was not announcing a policy change but was giving an emotional and moral statement after vising Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw who had fled their home country as Russia invades and indiscriminately attacks civilians. 

“I want to make it clear: I wasn’t then, nor am I now articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I feel, and I make no apologies for it,” Biden said Monday when asked about the comments, while insisting he was not “walking anything back.”  

The earlier fallout: It could be difficult for Biden and his team to undo potentially lasting damage from the remark on Saturday, which has dominated headlines.   

Biden declared that “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” at the end of a 30-minute address in Warsaw, referring to Putin. Within minutes of the conclusion of his speech, a White House official said that comment was referring to Putin exercising power outside of Russia. 

The unscripted remarks didn’t sit well with some lawmakers, and former government officials say it will be difficult for the White House to un-ring the bell on Biden’s comments at a precarious time for U.S.-Russia relations.  

Read the full story here



Six U.S. Navy Growler aircraft will arrive in Germany on Monday to bolster electronic warfare capabilities on NATO’s eastern flank, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.  

The EA-18G Growler planes, along with about 240 Navy personnel, will fly from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., to Spangdahlem Air Base where they be temporarily based, Kirby told reporters.  

What they can do: The Boeing Co.-built planes specialize in flying electronic warfare missions using jamming sensors to confuse enemy radars, “greatly aiding in the ability to conduct suppression of enemy air defense operations,” Kirby said. 

What they’ll be used for: But he stressed that the aircraft will not be used against Russian forces in Ukraine and are “not being sent because of some sort of acute threat that was perceived or some specific incident that happened.”  

Rather, they will fly missions to “reinforce deterrence capabilities of the alliance on the eastern flank. They are not there to engage Russian assets, that is not the goal,” Kirby said. 

Read more about the move here.



The mayor of Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv, announced Monday that Ukrainian forces had taken back control of the city after fierce fighting with Russian troops.  

“We have good news today — Irpin has been liberated,” Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn said in a video post on Telegram, according to multiple outlets. “We understand that there will be more attacks on our town and we will defend it courageously.”  

Markushyn told CNN on Monday that Irpin was freed the night prior and that forces still need to completely clear the town. 

Can’t verify: Asked later on Monday about the mayor’s assertion, a senior U.S. defense official could not independently verify that Irpin was reclaimed.   

“We’ve seen the mayor’s comments. … [We’ve] talked about there being, you know, active fighting and the Ukrainians efforts to take it back, but we’re not in a position now where we can independently verify that they’ve done so,” the official said.   

Read the full story here


North Korea stresses ‘formidable striking capabilities’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted that his country will develop “formidable striking capabilities” to defend against all outside threats after conducting its latest missile test. 

North Korea launched its Hwasong-17 missile on Thursday, saying this was its largest intercontinental ballistic missile yet, according to Reuters. 

“Only when one is equipped with the formidable striking capabilities, overwhelming military power that cannot be stopped by anyone, one can prevent a war, guarantee the security of the country and contain and put under control all threats and blackmails by the imperialists,” Kim said in a statement, according to state news agencies. 

Confirmation: North Korea’s neighbors, South Korea and Japan, both confirmed that the latest missile launch was higher and longer than previous ones. 

Washington’s reaction: U.S. officials announced on Friday that they will push to strengthen United Nations sanctions against North Korea after its latest missile launch, but Chinese and Russian officials oppose the move and have argued for sanctions to be relaxed. 

Read the full story here






That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s defense and national security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!

Tags Denis McDonough Joe Biden John Kirby Kim Jong Un Marco Rubio Shalanda Young Vladimir Putin

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