Why Biden’s mum on the India-Canada spat – POLITICO

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While The New York Times reported that Washington provided intel that helped fuel Trudeau’s accusation, the Biden administration is largely keeping the matter at arms-length publicly. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo
With help from Nahal Toosi, Daniel Lippman, Eric Bazail-Eimil, Joseph Gedeon and Zi-Ann Lum
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The Biden administration has been notably quiet as tensions escalate between India and Canada following the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia. Don’t expect more noise from the White House anytime soon.
Today, New Delhi expelled 41 of Canada’s 62 diplomats — its most drastic measure against Ottawa after Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU’s accusation that India may have been involved in the killing of HARDEEP SINGH NIJJAR, a Sikh leader who was gunned down in June outside Vancouver.
The two countries have traded diplomatic blows since Trudeau’s broadside two weeks ago, banishing diplomats and publicly lambasting one another with no end in sight to the conflict.
For now, the United States has relegated itself to playing a minor role, seemingly content with letting things play out and urging cooperation to avoid angering Indian Prime Minister NARENDRA MODI, an ally with whom the White House has worked hard to shore up relations.
“We’re trying not to lose India over confronting Modi’s behavior or inaction unless … something shows it to be outside the kind of norms that we expected in the Western alliance,” CHRISTOPHER SANDS, director of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, told NatSec Daily.
It’s a balancing act for the White House. While The New York Times reported that Washington provided intel that helped fuel Trudeau’s accusation, the Biden administration is largely keeping the matter at arms-length publicly.
“Let these two countries speak to their bilateral relations,” National Security Council spokesperson JOHN KIRBY told reporters today.
Last week, however, Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN urged Indian officials to cooperate with Canada, Reuters reported, and national security advisor JAKE SULLIVAN also spoke with New Delhi’s foreign minister, though few details from the talks were revealed. State Department spokesperson MATTHEW MILLER has also told reporters that the U.S. is in talks with the Canadian and Indian governments on the matter.
The U.S. is being cautious because it hopes with Canada spearheading the issue, “we can avoid a major split in the alliance,” Sands said. “Canada will raise the charge … and what we would love to see now is not this escalation — actually the reverse, finding a way to cooperate.”
But some members of the Biden administration believe its relationship with Modi could become more fraught in the near term, a State Department official familiar with the issue who was granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter told NatSec Daily.
U.S. Ambassador to India ERIC GARCETTI has told his in-country team that, because of the diplomatic spat with Canada, relations between India and the U.S. could get worse for a time, the official said. Garcetti also has said the U.S. may need to reduce its contacts with Indian officials for an undefined period of time.
When asked for comment on the matter, a State Department spokesperson, granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive diplomatic issue, was blunt:
“We don’t have anything for you on this,” the spokesperson said. “Ambassador Garcetti is a champion of our strong partnership with the Indian people and the Indian government. Our relationship with India is an important, strategic, and consequential partnership.”
At least for now, a private dialogue between Ottawa and New Delhi will continue, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister MÉLANIE JOLY told reporters today. Expect Washington to sit mostly on the sidelines.
“The U.S. is going to walk this tightrope as delicately and cautiously as it can. It knows India will not respond to overbearing hectoring but it also can’t throw its neighbor and NATO ally, Canada, under the bus,” MILAN VAISHNAV, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s South Asia program, told NatSec Daily.

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LOOKING AHEAD IN UKRAINE: Ukraine’s counteroffensive has progressed very slowly since it began over the summer, and recent reports show that Russia’s “elastic defense” may be a big reason why, The New York Times’ MATTHEW MPOKE BIGG reports.
That tactic involves Russian troops ceding ground to Ukrainians before striking back when they’re vulnerable, when they’re moving across open fields or at abandoned Russian positions. On Monday, it played out in the Zaporizhzhia region when Moscow’s troops said they attacked Kyiv’s forces, while Ukraine said it “repelled the attacks.”
The objective is to prevent Ukranians from gaining enough traction to secure land to stage more offensives, sometimes leading to conflicting reports of what went down.
Ukraine has made small gains though, and it’s pushing for the West to continue providing military assistance to keep the momentum going. But some allies are worried about the effects on their own militaries. To ease their concerns, President JOE BIDEN today called several Western countries to reassure them that U.S. aid would continue, our own KELLY GARRITY reports.
“We cannot keep on giving from our own stockpiles,” one European official told our own PAUL McLEARY and LARA SELIGMAN. The official added that there’s still robust public and political support for Ukraine’s fight, but “we’ve given everything that will not endanger our own security.”
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has $5.4 billion left in reserves to send military assistance to Kyiv, even with Congress’ failure to include more funding for Ukraine over the weekend, two U.S. officials familiar with the discussions told Paul and Lara.
News of the dwindling budget came as Pentagon leaders sent a letter to Congress warning that they’re running low on money to replace Kyiv’s weapons, The Associated Press’ LOLITA BALDOR and TARA COPP reported Monday evening. Pentagon Comptroller MICHAEL McCORD wrote that the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative — which provides long-term funding — was completely depleted.
The Defense Department has “enough funding authorities to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs for just a little bit longer, but we need Congress to act to ensure there is no disruption in our support,” spokesperson SABRINA SINGH told reporters today.
Read: Ukraine puts on brave face as West goes wobbly by our own NICHOLAS VINOCUR, PAOLA TAMMA and VERONIKA MELKOZEROVA.
FIRST IN NATSEC DAILYCIA LAWSUIT: A female CIA employee who said she was sexually assaulted by a male colleague sued the agency today, DANIEL LIPPMAN writes in.
She claims her employer engaged in “criminal witness tampering” and violated the Civil Rights Act and Privacy Act, alleging the agency made it harder for her to get justice against her attacker.
The lawsuit alleges the agency tried to prevent her from lodging a criminal complaint against her colleague. It also claims the CIA improperly divulged personal information held in its records to the colleague’s defense counsel to spread false allegations of an extramarital affair in an effort to prevent her from testifying at a criminal trial.
The lawsuit also says the agency’s HR office had reviewed her “time-and-attendance records” after she spoke to Congress during its investigation into whether the CIA is mishandling sexual assault cases by employees.
The woman, who is unnamed in the complaint, said the CIA’s public affairs office in August pulled her out of a training session to tell her The Associated Press was deciding whether to publish her name in a story about the criminal case against her assailant. That would have effectively ended her agency career, her lawyers said. But the lawsuit said the statement was untrue and the AP was never going to name her since she was a sexual assault victim.
A spokesperson for the CIA said they are unable to comment on litigation but the agency protects the privacy of officers and follows the law. “More broadly, CIA continues to take concerns about our handling of employee allegations of sexual assault and harassment extremely seriously, and we have already taken significant steps in this regard,” the spokesperson added in a statement. “We are focused on instilling in all officers a culture of duty to act, and ensuring they know they are encouraged to report any incidents of sexual assault to law enforcement authorities.”
HELP TO HAITI: The U.N. Security Council approved the deployment of a Kenyan-led multinational force in Haiti Monday evening to help the country’s police forces end a destabilizing gang violence crisis, The Miami Herald’s JACQUELINE CHARLES and MICHAEL WILNER report.
The U.N. intervention, which was supported by the U.S. and Haiti, will see a multinational security support mission assist local police and officials in the embattled Caribbean country as they seek to regain control from gangs. Worsening gang violence has gripped the country’s major cities, resulting in widespread killings, kidnappings and acts of sexual violence, as well as a major exodus of Haitians from the country.
The selection of Kenya as the leader of the force is also seen as a win for the Biden administration, which was reluctant to launch yet another U.S. intervention in Haiti and had courted Kenya to take the mission on.
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‘SUCKERS’ AND ‘LOSERS’ AGAIN: JOHN KELLY, former chief of staff to DONALD TRUMP, confirmed the former president’s striking comments calling Marines who died at Belleau Wood “suckers” and those buried in Aisne-Marne American Cemetery “losers.”
“A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me,’” Kelly told CNN’s JAKE TAPPER in a statement Monday night, confirming The Atlantic’s explosive 2020 story.
He continued: “A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”
NatSec Daily reached out to each of the GOP candidates’ campaign teams for comment, but didn’t receive any responses.

GET READY FOR POLITICO’S DEFENSE SUMMIT ON 11/14: Russia’s war on Ukraine … China’s threats to Taiwan … a war in Gaza. The U.S. is under increasing pressure to deter, defend and fight in more ways — but not everyone agrees how. Join POLITICO’s 3rd Annual Defense Summit on November 14 for exclusive interviews and expert discussions on global security and the U.S.’s race to bolster alliances and stay ahead of adversaries. Explore critical topics, including international conflicts, advanced technology, spending priorities and political dynamics shaping global defense strategies. Don’t miss these timely and important discussions. REGISTER HERE.
NEW CONTRACTOR RULES: A trio of federal agencies that oversee government procurement policy are proposing strict new rules aimed at beefing up the baseline cybersecurity and incident reporting requirements of federal contractors, our friends at Morning Cybersecurity (for Pros!) report.
The Biden administration first called for the new mandates from the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council in a May 2021 executive order on cybersecurity. It gave the three agencies representing the FARC — the Defense Department, General Services Administration and NASA — just a few months to produce their recommendations.
If codified, the rules would be adopted as standard contractual requirements across federal agencies for unclassified systems. The cyber hygiene rules would require that federal contractors submit plans for continuous security monitoring, comply with CISA security directives, and undergo independent security audits and tests on an annual basis.

URGING FOREIGN SALES: A Wall Street analyst wrote to investors that U.S. arms sale notices for fiscal 2023 topped historic levels, sending up cheers at Lockheed Martin, Boeing and RTX — in that order, our friends at Morning Defense (for Pros!) report.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced a total of $107.7 billion in potential foreign sales for the year, ROMAN SCHWEIZER of TD Cowen wrote to investors. That topped $74.8 billion in 2022, $87.5 billion in 2021, $83.6 billion in 2020, $67.9 billion in 2019 and $70.1 billion in 2018.
To be clear, these foreign military sales totals are for deals that were announced but may not yet be completed, a process that can take years or run aground. (*Cough* Harpoons for Taiwan. *Cough*.) Yet it’s still a barometer for demand and Washington’s willingness to meet it.

SCHUMER’S CHINA CODEL: Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER is leading a bipartisan group of senators on a trip to China, Japan and South Korea planned for next week, Reuters’ DAVID SHEPARDSON reports.
Sen. MIKE CRAPO (R-Idaho) is co-leading the excursion — which will include Louisiana Republican Sens. BILL CASSIDY and JOHN KENNEDY, MAGGIE HASSAN (D-N.H.) and JON OSSOFF (D-Ga.) — with the hope of securing a meeting with Chinese President XI JINPING.
The majority leader “will focus on the need for reciprocity in China for U.S. businesses that will level the playing field for American workers, as well as on maintaining U.S. leadership in advanced technologies for national security,” Schumer’s office said in a statement.

PLAYBOOK IS GOING GLOBAL! We’re excited to introduce Global Playbook, POLITICO’s premier newsletter that brings you inside the most important conversations at the most influential events in the world. From the buzzy echoes emanating from the snowy peaks at the WEF in Davos to the discussions and personalities at Milken Global in Beverly Hills, to the heart of diplomacy at UNGA in New York City – author Suzanne Lynch brings it all to your fingertips. Experience the elite. Witness the influential. And never miss a global beat. BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION. SUBSCRIBE NOW.
THE COME DOWN: The Treasury Department sanctioned 28 individuals and entities for the “international proliferation of illicit drugs,” including a China-based network it says is responsible for making and distributing massive amounts of fentanyl, meth and chemicals to make MDMA.
“Today’s action … reflects how we will swiftly use all of our tools to counter the global threat posed by the illicit drug trade,” Deputy Treasury Secretary WALLY ADEYEMO said in a statement today.
It’s the latest effort by the Biden administration to combat the flow of illegal drugs, specifically fentanyl from China, which kills thousands of Americans every year and has increasingly caused tension between Washington and Beijing in recent years.
TRIO IN TROUBLE: Three Chinese energy giants have been added to Ukraine’s list of businesses that are helping bankroll Russia’s full-scale invasion, in a move Kyiv says will have repercussions for their work in the West, our own GABRIEL GAVIN reports.
In a statement today, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention confirmed that China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China Petrochemical Corporation and China National Petroleum Corporation had all been listed as “international sponsors of war.”
The three state-run companies — China’s largest oil and gas businesses — are actively implementing joint projects alongside their Russian counterparts and help fund Moscow’s military and arms industries “by paying significant taxes” to the state, officials wrote.

— Business defense and federal litigation firm Oberheiden P.C. announced that former Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO, former Director of National Intelligence JOHN RATCLIFFE and former Rep. TREY GOWDY (R-S.C.) have joined the company as of counsel.
— Spirit AeroSystems CEO TOM GENTILE resigned and PATRICK SHANAHAN, the former Boeing executive and Pentagon No. 2, was named as his interim replacement, the company announced Monday.
— Austal USA named CHRIS ORLOWSKI as its vice president of engineering. He was Northrop Grumman’s director of engineering and manufacturing systems and infrastructure.
— Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. JOHN TEICHERT is running for Sen. BEN CARDIN’s (D-Md.) seat as a Republican. Cardin is not running for reelection in 2024 and will depart the Senate in January 2025.
JON WOLFSTHAL is joining the Federation of American Scientists as director of global risk. He was a senior adviser to Global Zero.
NEIL MCKIERNAN has joined the lobbying firm American Defense International as vice president for government affairs. He was most recently chief of staff to Rep. JOE COURTNEY (D-Conn.).

IAN LOVETT and NIKITA NIKOLAIENKO, The Wall Street Journal: Inside Ukraine’s fight to retake Bakhmut: ‘The ground was covered in bodies’
STEPHEN WALT, Foreign Policy: The Biden administration is addicted to partnerships
DAVID REMNICK, The New Yorker: Should the West threaten the Putin regime over Ukraine?

The Atlantic Council, 9:30 a.m.: Running out of road: China Pathfinder 2023 launch
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 10 a.m.: BUILD Act reauthorization and Development Finance Corporation oversight
The Hudson Institute, 10 a.m.: Integrating a force for twenty-first-century deterrence and warfighting
The Henry L. Stimson Center, 10 a.m.: How doing justice to Ukraine can help win the battle for the future of nuclear security
Georgetown University’s Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies, 10:30 a.m.: Transforming the Indo-Pacific order: The AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States) wager
The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft holds a virtual discussion, beginning at 12 p.m.: Is U.S.-China conflict inevitable?”
The University of Texas at Austin Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the William B. Clements Jr. Center for National Security, 2 p.m.: A discussion on the current state of international affairs with Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN and former Ambassador to NATO KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 2:30 p.m.: Security on the Korean peninsula
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 4 p.m.: 50 Years Since the 1973 War
The Brookings Institution, 4:30 p.m.: Does the U.S. need to seek to limit China’s economic growth in order to protect itself?
Thanks to our editor, Emma Anderson, who throws us under the bus every day.
We also thank our producer, Gregory Svirnovskiy, who urges Emma to cooperate with us.

A message from Lockheed Martin:
Using Artificial Intelligence to help firefighters better detect, predict and fight wildfires.
Lockheed Martin is collaborating with commercial companies to integrate our technologies and expertise with their capabilities to help first responders detect, predict and fight wildfires. Learn more.


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