Defense & National Security — Concerns rise over Iran’s plan to send Russia drones

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The United States believes that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with hundreds of drones to help Moscow with its ongoing assault on Ukraine, the White House has revealed.

We’ll detail what we know of the plans so far and what it means for the next stage of the Ukraine-Russia war, plus the next point of focus for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the latest incident involving the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.

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 Ellen Mitchell. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

Officials: Iran preparing to send Russia drones

The United States believes that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with hundreds of drones in order to help Moscow with its ongoing assault on Ukraine, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday.

“Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia up to several hundred UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], including weapons-capable UAVs, on an expedited timeline,” Sullivan said at a press briefing.

Trainings planned: Sullivan said that the Iranians are preparing to train Russian forces to use the unmanned aerial vehicles as early as this month. It’s unclear if any have been delivered to the Russians already.

Timing: The national security adviser disclosed the information to exhibit the difficulty Russia is experiencing in sustaining its own weapons stockpile as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine comes close to entering its sixth month.

Similarities: During his remarks to reporters, Sullivan noted that Iran supplied similar weapons to the Houthis in Yemen to help launch attacks against Saudi Arabia before a cease-fire was brokered.

Sullivan expressed confidence that the Ukrainians, with assistance from the U.S. and other countries, would be able “effectively defend and sustain” the capital of Kyiv, which Russia tried and failed to overtake at the beginning of the war.

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Also from The Hill:

Panel focuses on ‘tweet heard around the world’

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will turn its focus this week to former President Trump’s campaign to rally protesters to Washington, pointing to one tweet in particular as a pivotal moment in the violent effort to overturn his election defeat.

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” Trump tweeted Dec. 19, 2020.

That message, the investigators contend, acted as a shrewd battle cry to the far-right extremist groups and other supporters who were wrongly convinced the election had been “stolen” and viewed Jan. 6, 2021 — when Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s victory — as their last best chance to keep Trump in power.

Coming up: On Tuesday, lawmakers on the select committee will drill into the events both before and after the tweet, using their latest public hearing in the wide-ranging investigation to advance their case that Trump’s allies acted in cahoots with the violent extremists who would ultimately storm the Capitol.

  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who will help lead Tuesday’s hearing, noted that the tweet followed a Dec. 18, 2020, meeting at the White House where some of Trump’s closest allies pushed him to seize voting machines in key states.

  • Trump ultimately decided against the idea, but as options dwindled to remain in power, he shifted gears to focus on a protest the day of the election certification — something online chatter shows Trump’s most zealous supporters took as a call to arms.

The infamous tweet: Trump’s first full-throated endorsement of that protest — the now-infamous Dec. 19 tweet, sent at 1:42 a.m. — cited a report from Peter Navarro, a top aide, claiming to demonstrate proof of massive voter fraud.

“Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” Trump wrote, before urging his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 for the “wild” protest.

A year and a half later, the committee is leaning on that message to boost their allegations that Trump orchestrated the Capitol attack in a last-ditch effort to cling to power.

Read more here

Read more from The Hill:

Sailor found dead aboard aircraft carrier

A Navy sailor was found dead aboard the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier on Sunday while the ship was docked at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., according to the service.

The Navy Region Southwest Federal Fire Department responded to the scene and pronounced the sailor dead, the Navy said in a statement.

Limited details: The service is investigating the circumstances of the death, though there are no indications of suicide or foul play, the statement noted.

Earlier: The Carl Vinson, which has been in the California area since February, notably suffered a F-35C fighter jet crash on Jan. 24 while deployed in the South China Sea.

The aircraft crashed onto the deck of the ship as it was landing, fell into the water and was not recovered until early March. The mishap injured seven sailors.

Read the full story here

ON TAP

  • The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold a hearing on the January 6th Investigation at 10 a.m..

  • The American Security Project will host a virtual discussion previewing President Biden’s Middle East trip,” at 10 a.m.

  • The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will hold an event on the Russia/Ukraine conflict with Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, at 10 a.m.

  • The Hudson Institute will host a virtual discussion on “Standing with Allies Against China and Russia,” with Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), at 12 p.m.

  • The Jewish Institute for National Security of America will host a virtual talk on “Policy Priorities for Biden’s Middle East Trip,” at 2 p.m.

  • The Intelligence and National Security Alliance will hold a virtual discussion on “Trusting the Intelligence Community,” at 2 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!

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