News Briefs – October 21, 2019

Trump’s use of military money for wall survives Senate test

President Donald Trump’s use of military money to pay for the U.S.-Mexico border wall has survived a Senate effort to overturn the move.
Senate legislation would have reversed Trump’s move to take money from military base projects. Trump vetoed the legislation, and senators on Oct. 17 failed to override that veto. The vote was 53-36, short of the two-thirds needed.
In February, Trump declared the situation along the border to be a national emergency. And he announced plans to use as much as $3.6 billion from construction projects on military bases to pay for building the wall beyond the miles of constructions that lawmakers were willing to fund.
When the Senate voted to reverse Trump’s move, a dozen or so Republicans broke with Trump and defended lawmakers’ power of the purse. AP

Russia: 3 US diplomats stopped near explosion area

Russia’s foreign ministry says police stopped three American diplomats trying to enter an area of northern Russia where a secrecy-shrouded explosion at a navy range caused a brief spike in radioactivity levels.
Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Oct. 17 that the Americans, described as military diplomats, were not held in custody after they were stopped a day earlier.
She told a briefing that the Americans had received permission to travel to the city of Arkhangelsk, but instead went to Severodvinsk, 20 miles to the west, where they boarded a commuter train to a community near the naval range. Police informed them they were “in a zone of restricted visitation,” she said.
Two servicemen and five nuclear engineers were reported killed in the Aug. 8 explosion. AP

Russia PM Medvedev watches army show in Balkan ally Serbia

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Oct. 19 attended a military show in Balkan ally Serbia marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation by Soviet and Yugoslav troops of the capital, Belgrade, from Nazi German occupation.
Medvedev joined hundreds of people and top Serbian officials who converged at a military airport near Belgrade on a sunny day to watch an anti-terrorism drill followed by a parade of troops, battle vehicles and weapons, helicopters and jets.
Medvedev’s visit illustrates the close relations between Russia and Serbia, which share common cultural, religious and historic links. Russia has been helping Serbia beef up its military, even as Belgrade formally seeks membership in the European Union.
Serbia has pledged to stay out of NATO, partly because the alliance bombed the country in 1999 to end a conflict in Kosovo. President Aleksandar Vucic said at Saturday’s military show that Serbia “will know how to protect on our own our sky, our land and our people.”
Moscow recently has stepped up efforts to restore its influence among the former communist nations in Eastern Europe, fueling concerns in the West, which has sought to push the volatile Balkan region toward EU and NATO integration following the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Medvedev also holds talks with Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic before addressing the country’s lawmakers at a special session. AP