Defense and national security overnight – US and Russia meet at ‘critical’ point

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Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony BlinkenSunday preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva in a high-stakes meeting amid growing tensions between Russia, the United States and Ukraine.

More information on the meeting and the Biden administration’s next move, as well as details on the dispatch of the aircraft carrier strike group to the Mediterranean and further sanctions on a Hezbollah funding network.

For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Email me with tips at [email protected]

Let’s go.

Blinken and Lavrov meet amid high tensions

Blinken and Lavrov met Friday in Geneva but failed to break through.

“We don’t expect to resolve our differences here today. But I hope and expect that we can test whether the path of diplomacy or dialogue remains open,” Blinken told Lavrov during the meeting, the Associated Press reported. “This is a critical moment.”

And after?: In a press conference after the meeting, Blinken said the United States had agreed to provide, in writing next week, the concerns of the United States and the issues raised by Russia, as well as than the ideas of the United States to reduce tensions.

The two also agreed to continue conversations after the written proposal.

Blinken said a meeting between President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion and Russian President Vladimir PoutineVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUkraine must take control of its destiny Coons opposes sending US troops to Ukraine: ‘We would just sacrifice them’ Defense and national security overnight – US and Russia meet at a “critical” moment MORE is also on the table if it is believed to push the situation in the right direction.

Threats: Russia has amassed thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine as the international community continues to warn that tough action will be taken against Moscow if it invades the former Soviet country.

Blinken said at the meeting that he wanted to use diplomacy to defuse the situation, but “if that proves impossible and Russia decides to continue aggression against Ukraine,” she should expect to do in the face of “a united, rapid and severe response”.

What’s on the table?: No military action was promised in response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Blinken and Biden have spoken of severe economic sanctions.

Lavrov told the meeting that he “did not expect a breakthrough in these negotiations either. What we expect are concrete responses to our concrete proposals,” according to the AP.

Russia wants a promise from NATO that Ukraine will not be added to the alliance and wants Western allies to withdraw military equipment and troops from Eastern Europe.

The United States and its allies have firmly rejected these conditions as Russia continues to send troops near the Ukrainian border.

However, Blinken told Lavrov he had “concrete ideas to address some of the concerns you raised, as well as the deep concerns that many of us have about Russia’s actions.”

Read the full story here.


President Biden will meet with members of his national security team while spending the weekend at Camp David to discuss next steps regarding Russia.

“The president is obviously briefed regularly every day by his team, but he will also be engaging with them tomorrow over the weekend as well,” the White House press secretary said. Jen PsakiJen PsakiOn student loans, Biden has no answer yet Part of US military support package arrives in Ukraine Biden seeks to salvage what he can from Build Back Better MORE said Friday.

Biden is due to leave for Camp David Friday night. The White House has tried to send a clear message to Russia that any aggression against Ukraine will be met with a harsh response.

Learn more here.

More coverage from The Hill:


The United States sends a group of carriers to the Mediterranean

The US military has sent the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier strike group to participate in a NATO naval exercise in the Mediterranean amid tensions between the West and Russia, the spokesman said on Friday. of the Pentagon.

The Neptune Strike 22 exercises, which are scheduled to begin Monday and run through February 4, “will demonstrate NATO’s ability to integrate high-end maritime strike capabilities from an aircraft carrier strike group to support the deterrence and defense of the alliance”, press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyOvernight Defense & National Security – US and Russia meet at ‘critical’ time US sends carrier group to Mediterranean as Russian threat looms Lawmakers urge Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE told reporters.

He added that the strike group, along with several other NATO allies he did not name, “will participate in coordinated maritime maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare training and training. long-range strike”.

Don’t pay attention to the timing: Kirby insisted the war games had been ‘long planned’ since 2020 and were not in response to recent Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border, although the drills are not listed on the site. NATO web among the exercises scheduled for this year.

Shortly after the DOD announcement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg added to speculation about the timing of the maneuver when he tweeted that “NATO will always do what is necessary to protect and defend all the allies”.

He added that the US ship’s participation in Neptune Strike 22 displays “a strong sign of transatlantic unity.”

Other military movements: Spain has sent warships to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and plans to send fighter jets to Bulgaria, while Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and France has offered to send troops to Romania .

The United States is also allowing three NATO allies – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – to send American-made weapons “from their inventories for use in Ukraine”.

Read the full story here.


The Biden administration on Friday issued sanctions targeting an international financial network benefiting Hezbollah, the political and military group based in Lebanon and designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.

What they will do: The sanctions target three individuals and 10 companies that the administration says participated in actions to evade primary sanctions against Hezbollah in order to raise funds for the terror group through the international financial system.

“These financial facilitators have helped Hezbollah obtain funds through corporate networks that disguise themselves as legitimate businesses,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “The sanctions-busting efforts of those named today are a stark example of how Hezbollah abuses the international financial system to fund its acts of terrorism and illicit activities. »

Who and what was targeted: Those sanctioned include Hezbollah members based in Lebanon, including Adnan Ayad, who is believed to operate an international network of businesses, and his son Jihad Adnan Ayad, a Hezbollah member who is also associated with his father’s businesses.

The Treasury also sanctioned Ali Adel Diab, the son of sanctioned Hezbollah member Adel Diab and director and partner of the Zambian firm Hamer and Nail Construction, which the United States has also sanctioned for providing material or financial support to those sanctioned. .

The other sanctioned companies include eight based in Lebanon, one in Germany and an additional company in Zambia.

Earlier: The sanctions issued Friday build on similar moves announced earlier this week, when the Treasury Department announced sanctions against three Lebanese businessmen and a Lebanese tourism company for financially supporting Hezbollah.

The United States designated Hezbollah a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997 and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization in 2001.

Read the full story here.


  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will attend a press conference alongside the Foreign Ministers of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, and Sweden, Ann Linde, at NATO Headquarters in Brussels at 11:30 a.m.



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

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