Defense & National Security — Barrage of Russian missiles cause havoc

Russian missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday had “widespread impact” on the country’s power grid, sparking concerns in the West. 

We’ll share details on the strikes and the U.S. response, plus what Ukrainian officials hope will convice Israel to abandon its position of withholding military assistance to Kyiv.

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.

Pentagon: ‘Widespread impact’ from Russian strikes

Western officials are concerned over a barrage of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday that had “widespread impact” on the country’s power grid. 

“Ukraine has been able to defend against some of these attacks, but damage to the electric grid and water supply are serious concerns directly harming the civilian population,” a senior U.S. defense official told reporters. 

An earlier barrage Russian missiles rained down on several Ukrainian cities early Monday, leaving about 80 percent of Kyiv without water and other large swaths of the population without electricity, according to the city’s mayor.   

The damage: The missile attack, which took place at about 7 a.m. local time, targeted “military and civilian infrastructure facilities with 55 aircraft guided missiles, 45 of which were shot down by our defenders,” the Ukrainian military’s General Staff later claimed. 

And Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said 18 targets were hit in 10 regions, according to The Washington Post

Limited information: Another U.S. military official said they did not have specific information to provide as far as the extent of the damage but were “keeping a close eye” on it and still gathering information.    

“In terms of the infrastructure, by virtue of the electrical grid being impacted, we are seeing impacts in terms of water supply systems, water treatment, things like that, which is affecting access to water among the civilian population,” they said.   

Earlier attacks: The Russian strikes mark the most widespread missile barrage since a similar campaign earlier this month, when Moscow over several days pummeled Ukraine’s infrastructure and power grid. Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed concern over the country’s energy output as winter looms, with fears that a humanitarian crisis will soon be at hand as the days grow colder.   

Read more here 

Ukraine: Iran moves should push Israel on neutrality

Ukrainian officials say Iran’s wartime aid to Russia should convince Israel to abandon its position of withholding military assistance to Kyiv. 

Ukraine also wants the Biden administration to step up pressure on Israel, which has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion and delivered humanitarian support to Kyiv but refrained from offering arms. 

The hope: Officials in Kyiv are hoping that Tehran’s provision of suicide drones to Russia will lead to a shift in position for Israel. They are particularly pushing for Israeli help with air defenses that would provide protection against the Iranian drones. 

And they are making clear that the Biden administration should play a role in the pressure campaign on Israel. 

“The Americans are the only country that Israel is listening to,” Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said in a phone call with The Hill from Tel Aviv.

Positive development: Korniychuk said relations with Israel have advanced in recent weeks “on some technical issues related to defense,” including an advanced warning system to help alert civilians of incoming missile and rocket attacks from the Russians.  

“That’s a positive development, and we are expecting more from Israel of course,” he said.  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has sought to further convince Israel by raising the possibility that Russia could help Iran with its nuclear program. The White House has declined to comment on the allegation but said it remains committed to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

Noncommittal: Israeli officials have generally been noncommittal but say they are watching Iran’s involvement with Russia closely. 

“Iranian drones — we’re definitely analyzing the situation,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said in an interview with CNN this week. 

Israel maintains strategic relations with Moscow in part to carry out attacks against Iranian activities in Syria and to disrupt weapons transfers to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Officials also say Jerusalem has to maintain communication with Moscow over the Jewish diaspora in Russia. 

Iran’s weapons shipments to Russia are a concern for Jerusalem, though it does present an intelligence-gathering opportunity for Israel.   

Read that here 

Pelosi suspect charged with attempted murder

The San Francisco district attorney on Monday announced an attempted murder charge for the man accused of violently attacking Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in the couple’s California home last week.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced that David Wayne DePape, 42, will be charged with residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder and threats to a public official and their family, in addition to attempted murder.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

The state charges were announced shortly after the Department of Justice charged DePape with federal assault and attempted kidnapping.

Read more here

Pence: Post-2020 election meeting ‘a new low’

Former Vice President Mike Pence reportedly writes in a forthcoming book that a meeting between former President Trump, campaign lawyers and outside attorneys after the 2020 election was “a new low.”

Pence describes a “contentious back-and-forth” between Trump campaign lawyers and outside attorneys in November 2020 while discussing legal issues associated with challenging the election, according to an excerpt of his book obtained by Axios.

Pence writes in the book that his relationship with Trump “broke down” when the former president “pressured” Pence to overturn the 2020 election, according to the description.

“The vice president refused to leave the Capitol, and once the riot was quelled, he reconvened Congress to complete the work of a peaceful transfer of power,” the publisher adds, referring to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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  • The Naval Submarine League will hold its 2022 symposium on “Expanding the Reach of the Undersea Force,” with Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady, Naval Reactors Director Adm. Frank Caldwell, and Submarine Force Commander Vice Adm. Bill Houston, at 8:15 a.m. 
  • The Brookings Institution will hold a virtual discussion on “Terminator on the battlefield: Emerging and evolving tech in the Russia-Ukraine war,” at 9 a.m. 
  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a talk on “CISA Strategic Plan for 2023-2025: The Future of U.S. Cyber and Infrastructure Security,” with CISA Director Jen Easterly and CISA Chief Strategy Officer Valerie Cofield, at 10 a.m. 
  • The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft will host a virtual discussion on “The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War,” with former Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.), at 12 p.m.  
  • Government Executive Media Group will hold a virtual talk on “Focused on Resilience: Future Proofing Government Networks At Scale,” with Air Force CIO Lauren Barrett Knausenberger and other defense officials at 1 p.m.  
  • The Atlantic Council will host a discussion on “The future of U.S. nuclear strategy: Releasing the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review,” with Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy Richard Johnson; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Alexandra Bell; and Cindy Lersten, director of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, at 2 p.m.
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan will speak at Stevenson University at 8 p.m. 



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