Today's D Brief: SecDef Austin at NATO; Zelenskyy appeals to lawmakers; ~$1B in new US aid to Ukraine; Despair in Mariupol; And a bit more.

NATO’s military leaders are in Brussels reviewing European defense as Ukraine’s president addressed the entire U.S. Congress for about an hour this morning, which is day 22 of Russia’s invasion of democratic Ukraine. 

Big picture: Russian strategists expected to topple Kyiv’s government in three days; instead, Moscow still doesn’t have air superiority, it’s suffered alarming equipment and personnel losses, and Russian troops don’t seem to have made significant progress in about two weeks, Pentagon officials told reporters Tuesday. But some of that could be changing very soon, according to the British military, which said Tuesday evening that Russian troops are now redeploying “from as far afield as its Eastern Military District, Pacific Fleet, and Armenia.” 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Belgium late Tuesday evening, shortly after White House officials announced plans for President Joe Biden to visit Europe next week to discuss what might lie ahead for Ukraine, as well as ways to possibly contain or manage the decline of Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin. For Biden, those meetings will take place at NATO headquarters and at a summit of the European Council, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

New: The U.S. is about to send nearly $1 billion in new military aid to Ukraine, White House officials said Tuesday. The funds are expected to come from the $13.6 billion for Ukraine that’s been set aside in the $1.5 trillion omnibus budget bill Biden signed Tuesday.

The weaponry reportedly includes Soviet-era air defense systems like SA-8s, SA-10s (aka “S-300”), and SA-14s, a senior U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday. The batch of new U.S. military aid also includes Javelin and Stinger missiles. 

Zelenskyy repeated his calls for a no-fly zone in remarks to Congress, but he also admitted he doesn’t expect that to happen. “If this is too much to ask, we offer an alternative,” he said, and referenced anti-tank and air-defense weapons. “Remember Pearl Harbor? Remember September 11?” Zelenzkyy said. “Our countries experience the same every day right now.”

Coverage continues below the fold…


From Defense One

The DOD needs a Joint Wargaming Center // Lt. Col. Gabe S. Arrington: The recent explosion of wargames obscures several flaws in the current system.

A Civil War is Brewing In Russian Tech Circles // Patrick Tucker: Russian entrepreneurs and investors who have known each other for years are finding themselves on opposite sides of Putin’s war.

A Private Company Has Evacuated 6,500 People From Ukraine // Jacqueline Feldscher: Global Guardian is now evacuating Ukrainians who work for Western companies and their families.

Biden's Nuclear Spending Plans Just Got More Complicated // Marcus Weisgerber: How much will Russia’s war on Ukraine change America's aging nuclear arsenal?

Pentagon May Boost Troop Presence In Somalia // Jacqueline Feldscher: It’s “not effective” to try to deter terrorists there from bases in neighboring countries, U.S. Africa Command leader says.

The Air & Space Brief: Ukraine’s 56 fighter jets; Russia won’t leave American ISS astronaut behind; A ‘No Fly Zone’ test  // Tara Copp: 

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1984, the CIA’s Lebanon station chief, William Buckley, was kidnapped by Hezbollah militants as he left his apartment that morning in Beirut. A former Green Beret, Buckley is believed to have been tortured for 15 months before passing away in captivity, possibly from a heart attack. Efforts to help recover him became part of what later was known as the Iran-Contra affair, as the New York Times recounted in 1991. 


Ukrainian and Russian diplomats met today for the fourth time since Putin greenlit his invasion to “denazify” Ukraine’s leaders. In a vague bit of optimism from Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Wednesday: “The negotiations are difficult for obvious reasons, but nonetheless there is a certain hope for reaching a compromise.” For Ukraine’s part, President Volodymir Zelenskyy is reportedly signaling certain concessions, including some wiggle room on hopes of joining NATO. “For years, we have heard about the supposedly open door, but we have also heard that we should not enter, and this is true and we must admit it,” he said Tuesday.
According to Zelenskyy’s chief advisor, “Our position at the negotiations is quite specific—legally verified security guarantees; ceasefire; withdrawal of Russian troops,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted Wednesday, linking to an interview with PBS Newshour. “This is possible only with a direct dialogue between the heads of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.” Reuters has more on the diplomatic front.
Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan rang his Russian counterpart Wednesday, the White House announced. In the call, “Sullivan clearly laid out the United States’ commitment to continue imposing costs on Russia, to support the defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank, in continued full coordination with our allies and partners,” National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne said. Sullivan also “warned [General Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council] about the consequences and implications of any possible Russian decision to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.” More here.
Developing: Ukraine troops launched a counteroffensive against stalled Russian forces around Kyiv, the Wall Street Journal reports from the capital. Suburbs and outlying towns like Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel are where some of the fighting is heating up; but there are also counteroffensives reportedly happening “south and east of the southern port of Mykolayiv, moving in the direction of Kherson, the only Ukrainian regional capital occupied by Russia since the war began,” according to the Journal.
In terms of proximity to Kyiv, the Pentagon said Tuesday that it “estimate[d] Russian forces are still about 15-20 km to the northwest [of the capital] and about 20-30 km to the east,” a senior defense official told reporters.
One general’s forecast: “Russia does not have the manpower or firepower to encircle the Ukrainian capital, let alone capture it,” former U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges wrote Tuesday at the Center for European Policy Analysis.  “It is a very large, dense major urban center on the banks of one of Europe’s largest rivers. It is a difficult, complex urban terrain.”
What’s more (or less, in a more practical sense), “There is no suggestion that the Russians have big units lurking in the woods somewhere (and the Pentagon has said it sees no signs of significant reinforcements.) So it’s apparent that the notional 900,000 strength of the Russian military is a hollow number.” And that presents an opportunity to influence the next tranche of 130,000 conscripts Moscow is expected to call up on April 1. CEPA has more from Hodges, entitled, “The Next 10 Days Will Decide This War.”
ICYMI: Alleged Russian drones are crashing in Romania and Croatia, and appear to have been spotted above Poland, the Wall Street Journal reports from Brussels.
Further reading: 

Today on Capitol Hill, service and Defense Department officials will testify about the health effects of exposure to airborne hazards, including toxic fumes from burn pits, at a Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee hearing at 3 p.m. And the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee will get an update from Assistant Defense Secretary for energy, installations, and environment Paul Cramer and other officials at 2 p.m. Watch that here
Also today, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger will talk with David Ignatius on “Washington Post Live” at 1:30 p.m. Register here to watch that. 

And lastly: That Maryland couple who tried to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign nation? That nation had been kept a secret for months, but Julian Barnes of the New York Times learned the answer Tuesday.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.