Defense & National Security — White House touts ‘shift in momentum’ in Ukraine

·6 min read

The White House on Tuesday touted the “shift in momentum” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but warned that the war remains unpredictable.

We’ll break down the report. Plus, we’ll talk about the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s letter to the National Archives and Records Administration regarding the records recovered from former President Trump’s Florida home.

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 Jordan Williams. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

White House: Ukraine has shifted momentum

The White House on Tuesday characterized advances by Ukrainian forces against Russia as a “shift in momentum” but cautioned that the ongoing war in Ukraine remains unpredictable.

“I think what you’re seeing is certainly a shift in momentum by the Ukrainian armed forces,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters at a briefing.

‘War is unpredictable:’ Kirby acknowledged the Ukrainians had successfully forced Russians to reposition forces and withdraw from certain parts of the country, but he was careful not to categorize it as a sign that Ukraine had fully turned the tide roughly six months into the invasion.

“These are some dramatic events we’re watching, but it’s war. And war is unpredictable,” Kirby said, adding that he would leave it to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to say if he felt it marked a turning point.

Ukraine recaptures land: Zelensky on Monday said his forces had recaptured
6,000 square kilometers of land in the east and south of Ukraine since the start of September. Included in the cities reclaimed was Izyum, considered key in the fight.

The loss of Izyum marks Russia’s worst military defeat since March, when its troops were unable to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and were forced back.

Earlier on Tuesday: Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Kirby touted the “swift” and “stunning” Ukrainian advance, but said there was more territory to reclaim.

  • Kirby told Stephanopoulos that Ukraine has planned the counteroffensive carefully and has done well managing its logistics and sustainment in getting supplies to its troops throughout the war. He said the war does not seem to be at the point of reaching a diplomatic settlement yet, noting that Zelensky will decide on when he is ready to sit down to negotiate.

  • “There’s still a lot of fighting going on, not just in the north but elsewhere in the country, and Mr. Putin has shown no inclination to stop the prosecution of this war against the Ukrainian people,” Kirby said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Oversight panel seeks clarity on recovered records

The National Archives is still uncertain whether the government has recovered all records from former President Trump’s Florida home, the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed in a Tuesday letter asking the agency to pursue a sworn statement from Trump that he has returned all documents.

Archives staff “recently informed the committee that the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody,” said Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

The letter requested that National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provide an initial report on its inventory by Sept. 27.

The outstanding concerns: “The committee is concerned that, given this pattern of conduct, Mr. Trump may continue to retain presidential records at non-secure locations, including classified material that could endanger our nation’s security and other important records documenting Mr. Trump’s activities at the White House,” Maloney wrote in a letter to acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall.

“I urge NARA to seek from former President Trump a written certification that he has surrendered all presidential records or classified materials, has not made any copies or reproductions of such materials, and has not transferred any records or government documents to any party other than NARA or DOJ since his term ended.”

What Trump’s team has done: Trump’s legal counsel already provided a sworn statement to the Justice Department in May indicating that all classified materials at Mar-a-Lago were returned, only for the FBI to find more than 100 additional classified records when it searched the property in August, bringing the total of classified documents to more than 300. They also recovered about 10,000 government documents in their Aug. 8 search.

Maloney noted that while Trump would not be required under current law to provide such a certification, she cited the “exceptional circumstances” and suggested the committee could pursue legislation requiring such an action in the future.

Not the first time: Maloney pointed to two occasions during which Trump was asked to turn over records but still retained a large tranche: when NARA first reached out to him about recovering documents in May, 2021, and a year later when his custodian of records was served a subpoena to turn over any remaining documents.

Read the full story here.

Industry warns of inflation hitting defense budget

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) says that Congress should add
$42 billion to the fiscal year 2023 defense budget due to soaring inflation.

In a report released Tuesday, the association said the Department of Defense and defense industrial base will lose more than $110 billion in purchasing power to inflation from fiscal years 2021 to 2023.

The report comes as Congress appears eyes a continuing resolution — a temporary government funding measure.

The NDIA, Aerospace Industries Association and the Professional Services Council wrote a separate letter to Congressional appropriators on Monday asking them to consider inflation when setting the topline for a continuing resolution.

Read the report here.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

  • The German Marshall Fund will have a discussion on “The War in Ukraine and Lessons for Taiwan” at 8 a.m.

  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Social Media’s Impact on Homeland Security” at 10 a.m.

  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Strengthening U.S. Engagement in Central Asia” at 10 a.m.

  • The SETA Foundation at Washington, D.C. will hold a discussion on “Türkiye’s Policy of Balance in the Ukraine War” at 11 a.m.

  • Defense One will host “State of Defense: Navy” at 11:05 a.m.

  • The Atlantic Council will host a report launch on “Detecting disruption in closed systems” at 12:30 p.m.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a business meeting at
    2:30 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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