The US and other countries opposing Russia’s war in Ukraine will be brought to the table this week at the United Nations General Assembly with countries sympathetic to Moscow or who have refused to take sides, posing a major test for the UN
We’ll detail at the meeting what’s expected to happen, plus more about a new prisoner swap with the Taliban, a new audit of how the Pentagon conducts covert information warfare, and GOP concerns about President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. regarding military recruitment.
This is Defense & National Security, your nighttime guide to the latest developments in the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Subscribe here.
War in Ukraine will dominate UN leaders meeting
Russia’s war in Ukraine is likely to dominate the United Nations General Assembly this week, with countries sympathetic to Moscow or refusing to take sides pose a major test for the UN
The discussion in New York will put first those countries that have not joined in condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While the war itself will be a major point of discussion, many of its ripple effects will be in terms of global energy supply, economy, human rights, food security and more.
Of the stud: Biden will address the General Assembly on Wednesday and is likely to focus on Putin’s aggression, along with other priorities, including tackling climate change.
“A key message I think you’ll hear from leaders across the US administration is that respect for the core principles of the international order is needed now more than ever,” said John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council. said Friday.
broken: The UN was created in response to the kind of land war in Europe that many worried about if Russia captured major Ukrainian cities and chose to move to other countries.
While the US, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and other allies have teamed up to impose economic sanctions on Russia and provide military aid to Ukraine, this week’s meetings will lift both the United Nations’ restrictions in confronting the Kremlin as the fractured nature of the organization.
Limited success: The UN has had limited success in pushing back Russia, most notably by suspending it from the Human Rights Council. But Russia sits on the powerful UN Security Council, giving it veto power over more sweeping proposals, as well as a podium to stand on.
Russia has also found allies in China, Brazil, India and other countries that will not go nearly as far in imposing sanctions or even condemning Moscow’s actions.
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US hostage freed by Taliban in prisoner swap
Mark Frerichs, an American hostage held by the Taliban for more than two years, was released Monday as part of a prisoner swap for a Taliban leader convicted of drug trafficking.
The White House announced Frerichs’ release Monday morning, with President Biden calling it “the culmination of years of tireless work by dedicated officials in our administration and other partner governments.”
‘Difficult decisions’: Biden spoke to Frerichs’ sister to share news of his impending release. Biden did not specify the terms of his release, but only pointed out that the negotiations “required difficult decisions, which I did not take lightly”.
A senior government official confirmed that Frerichs’ release was part of a prisoner swap for a Taliban drug lord, Bashir Noorzai, who was jailed by the United States for smuggling heroin worth more than $50 million.
earlierBiden made the decision in June to pardon Noorzai “if it meant bringing an American home,” said a senior government official, who clarified that Noorzai was never an inmate at Guantanamo Bay prison.
Frerichs, a veteran and civilian contractor, spent ten years in Afghanistan as an engineer before being kidnapped in early 2020. US officials insisted that Frerichs had done nothing wrong and called for his release.
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Pentagon Orders Audit of Online Info Warfare: Report
The Pentagon will look at how it conducts covert information warfare after Meta and Twitter find and dismantle fake accounts likely related to the US military, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Deputy Defense Secretary for Policy Colin Kahl last week asked military commandos participating in online psychological operations to provide a full record of their activities by next month, the paper said.
Concerns: The order came after the White House, the State Department and some of the Defense Department raised concerns with the tactics the Pentagon used in trying to manipulate the foreign public, several defense and government officials have told the mail.
Such tactics, used by the likes of Russia and Iran, are against the rules of the social media platforms.
a dismantlingTwitter and Meta, the company that owns Facebook, deleted a network of accounts in August promoting “pro-Western stories” in the Middle East and Central Asia.
While there are no US laws prohibiting fictitious accounts, Pentagon specific policies discourage the spread of false information.
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GOP LAWMAKERS WORRY BIDEN MOVE MAY DETAIL MILITARY RECRUITING
A group of GOP House lawmakers is urging President Biden to allay concerns that his student loan waiver plan could hinder military recruitment by making the GI bill seem less valuable.
In a letter headed by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), the 19 House Republicans said they are concerned about the “unintended consequences” of Biden’s decision last month to waive up to $20,000 in student loans per borrower, notably “the negative impact this will affect our nation’s military and their ability to recruit and retain talent.
Leverage“By forgiving such a wide range of borrower loans, you remove any leverage the Department of Defense had as one of the fastest and easiest ways to pay for higher education,” the letter sent to the White House on Thursday said. . .
earlier: Biden announced plans in August to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loans for millions of borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year and $20,000 in forgiven debt for those who received Pell Grants. The White House said the move would affect more than 40 million Americans.
Democratic leaders have praised the move, though Republican lawmakers have called it excessive and unfair to the vast majority of taxpayers.
Recruitment issues: The latest outcry against loan cancellations points to the military, which has struggled for several years to meet hiring targets due to a robust job market, competition for talent with the private sector and a continued decline in the number of young people qualifying for both come and serve in the army.
The military is expected to fall short of its active duty recruiting targets this year, while Navy, Air Force and Marines officials expect to meet their targets, but only narrowly.
“While the agencies try to take unique approaches to address their hiring challenges, including historic bonuses, it feels like their legs are being cut out from under them,” Republican lawmakers wrote of Biden’s plan.
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ON TAP FOR TOMORROW
- The Air and Space Forces Association will host the 2022 Air, Space and Cyber Conference, which will include Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond, Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) and Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii). , at 8:15 a.m. in National Harbor, Maryland.
- Senate Armed Services Committee to Hold Hearing on “U.S. Nuclear Strategy and Policy” at 9:30 a.m., With Testimony from Outside Experts
- The US Institute of Peace will host a virtual discussion at 10 a.m. on “Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the crime of genocide.”
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a lecture at 11 a.m. on “Current Challenges for the Defense Industrial Base”, related to the war in Ukraine.
- The Middle East Institute will host a virtual discussion at 12 noon on “Greek-Turkish Tensions: What It Means for NATO Unity and Regional Peace”.
- The Stimson Center will hold a virtual lecture on “Coercion and Crisis Management in the Taiwan Strait” at 1:00 PM
- The US Institute of Peace will host a virtual discussion at 3 p.m. on “China’s influence on the Freely Associated States,” with former head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, retired Admiral Philip Davidson.
- The East-West Center in Washington will hold a talk on “Taiwan Matters for America – America Matters for Taiwan,” with Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and GOP representatives Steve Chabot (Ohio) and Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla. .), including at 3.30 pm
WHAT WE READ
That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!