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Defense and national security – US accuses Iran of lying about drones in Ukraine

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The Biden administration is trading diplomatic fire with Iran over allegations that Tehran’s drones are playing an increasingly deadly role in Russia’s war on Ukraine.

We’ll share the latest updates on the Ukraine-Russia war, as well as a new survey of veterans who show up mid-term.

It’s Defense and National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Colin Meyn. A friend sent you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

White House: “Iran continues to lie” on drones

The Biden administration says Iranian denials that it supplied military equipment to Russia are a lie, following deadly Russian strikes in Kyiv on Monday that Ukrainian officials say came from Iranian drones.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said reports from Kyiv appeared to document an Iranian Shahed-136 UAV hit the town.

  • “We have been warning since July…that Iran was planning to sell drones [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] in Russia for use against Ukraine… There is ample evidence of their use by Russia against military and civilian targets there,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday.
  • “You all also saw the news this morning about what appears to be an Iranian drone strike in downtown Kyiv, but Iran continues to lie about it,” she continued.
  • “They have not told the truth about this and deny supplying weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. Meanwhile, according to these new reports, Iran is planning to sell more destructive weapons to support a invasion he claims to oppose,” she added.

Victims: At least four people were killed in morning strikes on Kyiv that targeted infrastructure and buildings, Ukrainian officials said. Among the dead were a six-month-pregnant woman and her husband, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on Telegram. Rescue teams search the rubble for other victims.

Iran’s claims: Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Monday denied that Iran was supplying drones to Russia. “Reports about Iran supplying drones to Russia have political ambitions and are disseminated by Western sources. We have not supplied arms to any part of the countries at war,” he told a news conference, according to Reuters.

New penalty: Jean-Pierre said the administration would “continue to vigorously enforce U.S. sanctions on the Russian and Iranian arms trade.” And the administration is reportedly preparing sanctions targeting Iranian military sales, according to Politico, but with measures likely to target specific individuals rather than the Iranian regime.

Read Laura Kelly’s full story here

Russia bombs Ukraine’s energy grid

Russia is stepping up its attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, taking a hit on the country’s energy system as Ukrainian officials warn that a harsh winter in the country is looming.

Recent strikes in central and northern Ukraine damaged energy infrastructure, public network operator Ukrenergo reported on Telegram, according to translations, and an attack on Saturday severely damaged a major power plant near Kyiv.

“Due to the terror of Russian missiles in some cities and regions of Ukraine, energy workers have to limit the supply of electricity so that the whole system works stably. But it will be possible to avoid such stabilization blackouts if all of us in Ukraine consciously deal with our consumption during peak hours,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Sunday.

Scale of attacks: Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told CNN in an interview last week that Russia hit about 30% of the country’s energy infrastructure in just two days.

  • Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said on Telegram that Russia fired 28 explosive suicide bombers at the capital in Monday’s strikes alone.
  • The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly said on Monday that it had hit “all designated targets” in its latest series of attacks, according to Reuters.

Difficult winter: Ukraine’s energy system has so far been resilient and Ukrainian troops have maintained their successful counter-offensive effort, but Zelensky has long predicted that the winter season will be a significant challenge for the civilian population and for the war effort.

In a call with President Biden earlier this month, Zelensky “highlighted that recent large-scale damage to critical energy infrastructure poses serious challenges ahead of next winter and the start of the heating season,” according to a report. updating his office.

Read Julia Mueller’s full report here.

1 in 5 midterm candidates is a veteran

Just over 20% of candidates in the 2022 midterm elections have some military experience, the majority of which are men and nearly two-thirds are Republicans.

That’s according to new research by the Pew Research Center of the nearly 1,000 candidates vying for Congress or governor across the country.

Although veterans apparently make up a large portion of the candidates this campaign season, the share of veterans in Congress has declined significantly since its peak in the 1960s and 1970s. By 1967, 75% of House representatives had served in the army and in 1975, 81% of senators were veterans.

A Pew survey conducted in the summer of 2022 found that 53% of registered voters liked political leaders with military experience, while men and Republicans were more likely to view such candidates favorably.

Far-right opinions: In the past, it was also thought that electing a candidate with a military background could help foster bipartisanship and cooperation. However, many veterans running in the 2022 elections hold far-right ideologies, despite being largely anti-interventionist when it comes to foreign policy — a traditionally Democratic view.

Female veterans: Women make up less than 1 in 10 candidates with military experience in each chamber, as 16 of the 191 veterans running for the House this year are women. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is the only female veteran to run for a Senate seat this year.

Read Gianna Melillo’s full story here.

THE APPOINTMENT FOR TOMORROW

  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host the event “Is Iran on the brink? at 1:30 p.m.
  • The Heritage Foundation will host a show on “The Diminished State of Today’s Army” at 10 a.m.
  • The German Marshall Fund will host a discussion with Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur at 11:30 a.m.

WHAT WE READ

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