Five Things to Know, Sept. 18, 2023
(U.S. Navy photo)

Five Things to Know, Sept. 18, 2023

1.   NATO’s largest military drill since the end of the Cold War is being planned for 2024, bringing together more than 40,000 troops for an exercise stretching from the Baltics to Poland and Germany, according to alliance officials. Steadfast Defender will be a testing ground for practicing intertwined NATO and national defense plans, Adm. Rob Bauer, NATO’s military chief, said Saturday.  “A new era of collective defense is upon us,” Bauer said following a meeting of NATO defense chiefs. He called the exercises the largest in the post-Cold War era.

2.   Iran and the United States will exchange prisoners on Monday after some $6 billion once frozen in South Korea reached Qatar, a key element of the planned swap, officials said. The planned exchange comes just ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi will speak. However, the swap won’t mean that tensions have been lowered between the U.S. and Iran, which now enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

3.   North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was on his way home Sunday from Russia, ending a six-day trip that triggered global concerns about weapons transfer deals between the two countries locked in separate standoffs with the West. Kim’s armored train departed to the sound of the Russian patriotic march song “Farewell of Slavianka” at the end of a farewell ceremony at a railway station in Artyom, a far eastern Russian city about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the border with North Korea, Russia’s state news agency RIA reported.

4.   China’s top diplomat is heading to Russia for security talks after two days of meetings with U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser over the weekend in Malta. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who simultaneously holds the ruling Communist Party’s top foreign policy post, will be in Russia from Monday to Thursday for China-Russia strategic security consultations, the Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement.

5.   Russia on Monday called a Ukrainian case alleging that Moscow abused the Genocide Convention to justify its invasion last year an “abuse of process,” as lawyers for Moscow sought to have judges at the United Nation’s highest court throw it out. As a series of lawyers laid out Moscow’s objections to the case, the leader of Russia’s legal team at the International Court of Justice, Gennady Kuzmin, told the 16-judge panel that Ukraine’s case that seeks to halt the invasion “is, hopelessly flawed and at odds with the longstanding jurisprudence of this court.”