Defense & National Security — Russia-Ukraine war at top of list for UN meeting

The US and other countries opposed to Russia’s war in Ukraine will be brought together at the United Nations General Assembly this week with nations that sympathize with Moscow or have refused to take sides, leaving the UN facing a major test puts

We’ll detail what’s expected at the meeting, plus more on a new prisoner swap with the Taliban, a new scrutiny of how the Pentagon is waging a secret information war, and the GOP’s concerns about President Biden’s forgiveness program Student loans related to military recruitment.

This is defense and national security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Subscribe here.

The war in Ukraine will dominate the gathering of UN leaders

Russia’s war in Ukraine is likely to dominate this week’s United Nations General Assembly, with nations sympathetic to Moscow or refusing to take sides posing a major test for the UN

The discussion in New York will put those countries that did not participate in the sentencing of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the hot seat.

While the war itself will be a major talking point, many of its implications for global energy supplies, economies, human rights, food security and more will also be a topic.

On tap: Biden will address the General Assembly on Wednesday and will likely focus on Putin’s aggression alongside other priorities, including tackling climate change.

“A key message I think you will hear from senior US government officials is that respect for the fundamental principles of the international order is needed now more than ever,” said John Kirby, Strategic Communications Coordinator at the National Security Council, ” said Friday.

Broken: The UN was formed in response to the kind of land warfare in Europe that many feared if Russia captured major Ukrainian cities and chose to advance into other nations.

As the US, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and other allies band together to impose economic sanctions on Russia and provide military aid to Ukraine, this week’s meetings will push both the United Nations’ frontiers in confronting the Kremlin and also with the split ones underline essence of the organization.

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Limited success: The UN has had limited success in pushing Russia back, notably by suspending it from the Human Rights Council. But Russia sits on the powerful UN Security Council, giving it veto power over more far-reaching proposals and a grandstand platform.

Russia has also found allies in China, Brazil, India and other nations unwilling to go anywhere near imposing sanctions or even openly condemning Moscow’s actions.

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American hostage freed by Taliban in prisoner swap

Mark Frerichs, an American hostage held by the Taliban for more than two years, was freed Monday in a prisoner swap for a Taliban leader convicted of drug trafficking.

The White House announced Frerichs’ release Monday morning, and President Biden called it “the culmination of years of tireless work by dedicated public officials in our administration and other partner administrations.”

“Hard Choices”: Biden spoke to Frerichs’ sister to share news of his upcoming release. Biden did not specify the terms of his release, only pointing out that the negotiations required “difficult decisions that I did not take lightly.”

A senior administration official confirmed that Frerichs’ release was part of a prisoner swap for a Taliban drug lord, Bashir Noorzai, who has been jailed by the United States for more than $50 million worth of heroin smuggling.

Earlier: Biden made the decision in June to grant Noorzai clemency “if it meant bringing an American home,” a senior administration official said, clarifying that Noorzai was never an inmate at Guantánamo Bay prison.

Frerichs, a veteran and civilian contractor, worked as an engineer in Afghanistan for a decade before being kidnapped in early 2020. US officials had steadfastly maintained that Frerichs had done nothing wrong and called for his release.

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Pentagon Orders Online Information Warfare Audit: Report

The Pentagon will investigate how it’s waging a secret information war after Meta and Twitter found and dismantled fake accounts likely linked to the US military, the Washington Post reported Monday.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl last week asked military commands participating in online psychological operations to provide a full overview of their activities by next month, according to the outlet.

To ponder: The order came after the White House, the State Department and some in the Defense Department raised issues with tactics the Pentagon is using to try to manipulate audiences abroad, several defense and administration officials told the Post.

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Such tactics employed by Russia and Iran are against the rules of social media platforms.

A disassembly: Twitter and Meta, the company that owns Facebook, removed a network of accounts promoting “pro-Western narratives” in the Middle East and Central Asia in August.

While there is no US law prohibiting fictitious accounts, a special Pentagon policy discourages the dissemination of false information.

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A group of House of Representatives GOP lawmakers is urging President Biden to allay concerns that his student loan waiver plan could bog down military recruitment by making the GI bill seem less valuable.

In a letter led by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), the 19 House Republicans said they were concerned about the “unintended consequences” of Biden’s decision last month to pledge up to $20,000 in student loan debt per borrower delete, in particular “the negative effects”. This will certainly impact our nation’s military and its ability to recruit and retain talent.

leverage“By forgiving such a large amount of credit to borrowers, you eliminate any leverage that the Department of Defense has identified as one of the quickest and easiest ways to pay for college education,” reads the letter sent to the White House on Thursday became .

Earlier: Biden announced plans in August to forgive millions of borrowers making less than $125,000 a year up to $10,000 in federal debt on student loans and $20,000 in forgiven debt for those on Pell Grants have received. 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 battles: The recent loan write-off protest points to the military, which has struggled for several years to meet recruiting targets amid a robust job market, competition for talent with the private sector, and a continued decline in the number of young people doing both are eligible and want to do military service.

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The Army is not expected to meet its active duty recruitment targets this year, while Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps officials expect to meet their targets, but only just.

“As the services try to take unique approaches to their recruiting challenges, including historic bonuses, it feels like their legs are being cut from under them,” Republican lawmakers wrote of Biden’s plan.

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  • The Air and Space Forces Association will host the 2022 Air, Space and Cyber ​​Conference featuring General John Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) and Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) . , at 8:15 a.m. in National Harbor, Md.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on US nuclear strategy and policy at 9:30 am with testimonies from outside experts
  • The US Institute of Peace will host a virtual discussion on “Russia’s Actions in Ukraine and the Crime of Genocide” at 10 a.m
  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will give a lecture on “Current Challenges to the Defense Industrial Base” in connection with the Ukraine War at 11 a.m
  • The Middle East Institute is hosting a virtual discussion on “Greco-Turkish Tensions: What It Means for NATO Unity and Regional Peace” at 12 p.m.
  • The Stimson Center will hold a virtual lecture on “Coercion and Crisis Management in the Taiwan Strait” at 1:00 p.m
  • The US Institute of Peace is hosting a virtual discussion on “China’s Influence on the Freely Associated States” at 3:00 p.m. with former head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, retired Admiral Philip Davidson
  • The East-West Center in Washington will host a presentation entitled “Taiwan Matters for America – America Matters for Taiwan” with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and GOP Reps. Steve Chabot (Ohio) and Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla .), including at 3:30 p.m


That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. Until tomorrow!

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