Defense and national security – United States: Johnson’s exit will not affect support for Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation on Thursday, but US, UK and Ukrainian officials hope that will not affect the aid sent to Kyiv.

We’ll break down today’s developments. In addition, we will talk about the retirement of the head of the secret service.

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 Jordan Williams. A friend sent you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Johnson resigns, says UK will always support Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned on Thursday, but he promised the UK would always support Ukraine as it defended itself against Russian invasion.

Johnson, who held the post for less than three years, ushered in Britain’s “Brexit” split with the European Union. However, he was facing pressure from his fellow Conservative Party members over his handling of a series of controversies.

What controversies? Controversies that led to his downfall include parties he threw during the COVID-19 pandemic while restrictions were in place, and a refurbished flat that was paid for by a Conservative Party donor.

But the final straw for some was how he handled the sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher, whom Johnson named deputy ringleader.

Johnson’s support for Ukraine: Hugely popular in Ukraine, Johnson won the admiration of the country and its leaders for strongly encouraging arms transfers to the former Soviet nation and applying harsh sanctions to Moscow soon after the Russian invasion began on 24 february.

  • Johnson also became the first leader from a G-7 country to visit Kyiv in April, returning for the second time in June.
  • In addition, he had repeatedly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin before the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.

The effect on Kyiv: In his resignation speech, Johnson said the UK would continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said Johnson’s resignation would not affect the flow of aid to Ukraine.

  • Kirby, who made the comments ahead of Thursday’s announcement, also said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “understands that he has this international support regardless of which government is in power in any of these countries.”

Reactions from Ukraine and Russia: Zelensky expressed sadness for Johnson’s resignation and thanked him for his support during the invasion.

“We all learned this news with sadness. Not only me, but also the whole Ukrainian society, which is very sympathetic to you. My entire office and all Ukrainians are grateful for your help,” Zelensky said in the statement. “We have no doubt that Britain’s support will be preserved, but your personal leadership and charisma have made it special.”

Russian officials, meanwhile, celebrated Johnson’s ouster, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova calling his downfall a sign of Western decline.

“The moral of the story – don’t seek to destroy Russia,” Zakharova wrote on Telegram. “Russia cannot be destroyed. You can knock your teeth out on it and then choke on it.

Read more about his resignation here.

Secret Service director retires

James Murraythe director of the secret service for three years, will retire at the end of the month, the agency announced on Thursday.

  • Murray spent 27 years in the Secret Service and has been its director since May 2019.
  • He led the agency during the coronavirus pandemic, with several agents contracting the virus during the 2020 presidential campaign, and during the tumultuous transition after the 2020 election, including the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Murray’s career: In a press release announcing his retirement, the agency credited Murray with guiding the Secret Service “through eight special national security events and nearly 20,000 international and domestic protective operations. During that time, the The agency also recovered approximately $4.2 billion in fraud losses and averted approximately $8.1 billion in additional losses at the hands of criminal enterprises.”

  • Before joining the Secret Service as a special agent, Murray spent five years as an investigator with the US Department of Transportation.
  • Murray coordinated Secret Service protection for the 2016 presidential election and subsequent transition.

“Long and Distinguished Career”: “Director Jim Murray had a long and distinguished career in federal and military service spanning three decades, including the last three years as Director of the United States Secret Service,” President Biden and First Lady Jill said. Biden in a statement. “Jim embodies a sense of service to self and has protected the families of America’s presidents as if they were his own. We are incredibly grateful for his service to our country and our family.

An agency in difficulty: The agency has been in the spotlight in recent weeks over the events of January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to stop certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.

  • Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide to Trump, testified last week that then-President Trump was so furious at being told he couldn’t join his supporters on Capitol Hill that he rushed to the wheel of his vehicle, then to Robert Engel, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service that day.
  • The Secret Service has acknowledged that Trump wants to join his supporters on Capitol Hill, which the former president has made public. But the agency denied Hutchinson’s account, which it heard secondhand, that Trump rushed the wheel or Engel.

Read the full story here.

ICBM TEST ROCKET EXPLODES SECONDS AFTER LAUNCH

A test missile launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California detonated seconds after being fired late Wednesday night, officials said.

The Minotaur II space launch vehicle exploded about 11 seconds after launch from the test platform at 11:01 p.m. local time, Vandenberg officials confirmed in a statement Thursday morning.

The explosion started a fire on the base, although the debris remained in the “immediate vicinity” of the launch pad and there were no injuries.

In a second statement, base officials confirmed that the Vandenberg Fire Department responded to the fire after launch as it was producing smoke “but no immediate danger to the rest of the base.”

“We always have emergency response teams on standby before each launch,” Col. Kris Barcomb, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander, said in a statement. “Safety is our priority at all times.”

Learn more here.

WHAT WE READ

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

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