As Russia continues to bash Ukraine with rocket attacks, a bipartisan group of senators is urging the Biden government to reconsider its stance not to give Ukraine advanced drones.
We’ll share the details of the printing campaign and what the US government is sending Ukraine as part of a new $400 million military aid package, and a new rocket fire is turning off electricity across Ukraine.
This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments in the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and beyond. For CNNBreakingNews, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Sign up online below or here.
Senators call on Biden to give Ukraine an advanced drone
A bipartisan group of senators is urging the Biden government to reconsider its stance not to provide Ukraine with advanced drones to force Russian armed forces out of the country.
In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin dated November 22, 16 senators led by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) call on the government to “carefully review” Ukraine’s request for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) MQ-1C Gray Eagle.
“The MQ-1C, together with existing long-range firing capabilities, provides Ukraine with additional lethality needed to drive out Russian forces and regain occupied territory,” MEPs write.
Who signed? : Signatories include Ernst, outgoing member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
The argument: Ukraine has made significant progress on the battlefield against Russia in recent months and pushed Kremlin troops out of the strategic areas of Kharkiv and Kherson.
However, since October, Moscow has countered with a relentless flood of rocket and drone strikes across Ukraine, using kamikaze drones provided by Iran to target major cities and infrastructure.
Lawmakers argue that Kiev needs its own advanced drones to counter Russia’s drones.
Benefits: Senators note that the Gray Eagle’s “operational characteristics,” including “availability, lethality, survivability, and exportability,” will complement Ukrainians’ existing weapons systems and increase the lethality of its military.
They also argue that training Ukrainians with the drone would take 27 days. Thereafter, the UAS could be used to “undermine Russia’s advantage in long-range fires” and even “find and attack Russian warships in the Black Sea to break the forced blockade and reduce double pressure on the Ukrainian economy and global food prices.”
Earlier: This is not the first time lawmakers have urged the government to send advanced drones to Ukraine.
In September, a bipartisan group of 17 House members called on the Pentagon to expedite its review of sending Grey Eagles or MQ-9A Reapers to Kiev, arguing that this could help Ukraine retain the territory it had recently won.
The Pentagon’s stance: The Pentagon has so far denied Ukraine’s request for the drones as it was reportedly feared that the drone’s advanced and secret technology could fall into enemy hands.
Read the full story here
The US is sending Ukraine another 400 million dollars in military aid
The United States will send Ukraine another $400 million in military aid to help the country defend itself from Russia’s “relentless attacks” on its energy infrastructure ahead of winter, the Biden administration said on Wednesday.
The additional weapons, ammunition, anti-aircraft missiles, and vehicles to be taken from the Ministry of Defense inventories come at a time when Ukraine is dealing with a relentless air raid, in which Russia is trying to damage the critical infrastructure of major cities.
An “urgent priority”: “In light of Russia’s relentless and brutal rocket and drone strikes on Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, additional air defense capacity remains an urgent priority,” according to a Pentagon press release.
“The additional ammunition for NASAMS [National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems] and heavy machine guns will help Ukraine counter these urgent threats.”
What is included? : The package includes additional ammunition for NASAMS, 150 heavy machine guns to take out Russian drones, ammunition for highly mobile artillery missile systems, high-speed radiation rockets, 200 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds, 150 highly mobile multi-purpose wheeled vehicles, more than 100 light tactical vehicles, more than 200 generators, and mortar and small arms ammunition.
Timing: The additional defense measures are critical as Ukraine is trying to repel rocket and drone attacks before winter, with half of the country’s energy infrastructure damaged or destroyed as a result of the Russian invasion, according to World Health Organization European Director Hans Henri P. Kluge.
Because of the struggling energy infrastructure, around 10 million people have no access to electricity, and 2 million to 3 million Ukrainians are likely to be displaced in the coming months when the weather gets colder, Kluge said earlier this week.
The lethal aid package also comes less than a month after the government announced a similar $400 million military aid tranche on November 4.
Read that story here
UKRAINE: “MOST OF THE ELECTRICITY” WAS CUT OFF BY STRIKES
Russia launched mass attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine on Wednesday, cutting off power across much of the country and causing temporary blackouts in power plants, Ukrainian officials said.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Energy said the “majority of electricity” for consumers in Ukraine was cut off following the shelling.
Officials also reported a temporary power outage for all nuclear power plants and most heating and hydropower plants, affecting millions of people.
Some background information: Russia has launched rocket attacks on civilian infrastructure and energy networks in Ukraine since October following heavy losses in the war.
The Ministry of Energy said that despite widespread power outages, “Russia will not be able to intimidate Ukrainians.”
“Ukrainians aren’t afraid of the cold. Ukrainians aren’t afraid of the dark. Ukrainians are not afraid of terrorists,” officials wrote in the Facebook post.
The latest barrage: According to a telegram post from state-owned network operator Ukrenergo, which is working quickly to repair the damage, Wednesday’s attacks included 70 rockets, of which around 51 were shot down by air defense.
ON MONDAY ON TAP
The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion on the topic “How can Ukraine defeat Putin’s energy flash? “guides. at 10:30
WHAT WE READ
- Trump requests access to unredacted Mar-a-Lago arrest warrant, affidavit
- US sanctions Iranian security officials over crackdown on protests
- Sister of North Korean leader warns US of a “more fatal security crisis”
- The European Parliament was hit by a “sophisticated” cyber attack
- Military.com: Less “Nog, more turkeys: The DoD Thanksgiving market is proving volatile
- Defense One: It’s finally here: Pentagon releases plan to keep hackers off its networks
That’s it for today! Check out CNNBreakingNews’ defense and national security pages for the latest reports.
Overnight Defense is over for the rest of Thanksgiving. I’ll see you next week!