Today's D Brief: Russia strikes Odessa; $40B in new US aid to Ukraine?; Costa Rica's cyber nightmare; And a bit more.
Still more U.S. aid to Ukraine could be coming soon, and it could be as much as $40 billion. U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday he was prepared to consider the “urgent” matter in legislation decoupled from unrelated issues like a Covid relief funding package. “We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort,” the president said in a statement. “Hence, I am prepared to accept that these two measures move separately, so that the Ukrainian aid bill can get to my desk right away.” The current Congressionally-authorized funds are set to run out in nine days, but House lawmakers could vote on the new package as soon as this week.
According to Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse, “This is really simple: If we want Ukraine to win, we need to continue to arm them to the teeth. A clean Ukraine bill will have the votes. Let’s get this done.”
Update: Biden signed the so-called “lend-lease” bill on Monday, a piece of legislation designed to share defense equipment with European allies and not just Ukraine. Read more about what’s in that legislation, here.
Today, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is visiting the White House for an Oval Office meeting with Biden in the afternoon.
Biden’s national security advisor met with Romanian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov on Monday. Petkov and the White House’s Jake Sullivan discussed Russia’s ongoing invasion, and “U.S. solidarity with Bulgaria in the face of Russia’s latest attempt to use energy as a weapon,” according to a readout.
Russian missiles hit the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa overnight, killing at least one person and wounding seven others, according to Ukraine’s military. A shopping center, a warehouse, and a “tourist infrastructure facility” were also hit in the Russian strikes, Ukraine’s southern military command said Tuesday.
European Council President Charles Michel visited Odessa on Monday and was forced to seek shelter during a barrage of Russian missiles that interrupted a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal. Michel said “silos full of grain, wheat, and corn ready for export” are sitting idle in Odessa. “This badly needed food is stranded because of the Russian war and blockade of Black Sea ports,” which he said is “Causing dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries. We need a global response,” he tweeted Monday.
About 100 people are still believed to be stuck in the Azovstal factory in Mariupol, the Associated Press reports from southern Ukraine. Russian forces are still reportedly attempting to storm the facility, but haven’t completed that task yet. Elsewhere in the country, nearly four dozen civilians were found dead beneath rubble in the city of Izyum; the building had been flattened by Russian munitions weeks ago, AP reports.
Russia hacked and disrupted a European satellite coverage provider at the onset of the Ukraine invasion. “The cyberattack took place one hour before Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 thus facilitating the military aggression,” the European Union announced in a statement Tuesday. “This cyberattack had a significant impact causing indiscriminate communication outages and disruptions across several public authorities, businesses, and users in Ukraine, as well as affecting several EU Member States,” the EU added. (For more background, Reuters has been tracking developments in this story since March, with the latest update, here.)
“Russia must stop this war and bring an end to the senseless human suffering immediately,” the EU said at the end of its statement Tuesday. Read the rest, here.
- “The cyber war between Ukraine and Russia: An overview,” via Reuters, reporting Tuesday in an explainer;
- “Russian Guided Weapons Miss the Mark, U.S. Defense Officials Say,” via the New York Times, reporting Monday;
- “Flight of Shops From Luxury Mall in Moscow Shows Russian Isolation After Ukraine Invasion,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Tuesday from Moscow;
- “Crucial NATO decisions expected in Finland, Sweden this week,” via the Associated Press, reporting Tuesday from Stockholm;
- And “‘Warthogs’ return to Europe for large military drills,” via Stars and Stripes, reporting late last week.
From Defense One
Four Lessons that Should Upend the Pentagon’s Five-Year Strategy // John Ferrari: From the quick consumption of weapons in Ukraine to rising inflation, the current resourcing plan is untenable.
Marine Infantry Battalion Experiment Needs More Time, General Says // Caitlin M. Kenney: ‘I would expect that this will continue to be a learning process over the next couple of years,’ Maj. Gen. Watson said.
Welcome to this Tuesday 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 1801, the Barbary pirates, based around Tripoli, North Africa, declared war on the United States.
Costa Rica declared a national emergency after a devastating and ongoing cyber attack has cost the country at least $200 million, and has afflicted three ministries (finance, labor, and tech/telecoms), and several other entities with services across the country. “The attack crippled the country’s customs and taxes platforms alongside several other government agencies, even bringing down one Costa Rican town’s energy supplier,” Jonathan Greig of The Record reports. “The country’s treasury department has been unable to operate any of its digital services since the attack began, making it nearly impossible for paperwork, signatures, and stamps required by law to be processed.”
The emergency declaration came on President Rodrigo Chaves’s first day in office on Sunday, as local media summarized that announcement along with several other “transfer of power” executive orders were signed.
The hackers—from the group Conti—are demanding $10 million, and insist money is all they want; but Costa Rican leaders say they’re not going to pay the ransom. The U.S. State Department just offered a $10 million reward “for information leading to the identification and/or location of any individual(s) who hold a key leadership position” inside the Conti group, according to an announcement posted Friday.
Conti is known to have collected an estimated $150 million from attacks on at least 1,000 victims, according to the FBI. The State Department called the group’s work “the costliest strain of ransomware ever documented.” More here.
- “AGCO ransomware attack disrupts tractor sales during U.S. planting season,” via Reuters, reporting late last week;
- And “Predominantly Black college to shut down after Covid-19 and cyberattack burdens,” via CNN, reporting Monday on Lincoln College, based in Illinois, which is shutting down Friday after 157 years.
By the way: The White House just added a few top cyber officials, including a CIA veteran (Neal Higgins), a Microsoft counsel (Kemba Eneas Walden), and a former cyber director at the National Security Council (Rob Knake). All three are headed to the Office of the National Cyber Director. Read more at the White House, here.
It’s a somewhat busy day for national security policy in Washington. Two top intelligence officials are explaining worldwide threats to lawmakers with the Senate Armed Services Committee. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier began their testimony at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Army leaders are discussing their annual budget request before Senate appropriators. Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army Chief Gen. James McConville began that one at 10 a.m. ET. Livestream here.
The Navy secretary and Marine Corps commandant are speaking this morning at the Modern Day Marine Expo, at DC’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Later today: The future of Army programs and emerging technology is the focus of a Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee hearing in the afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET. That one features Army Futures Command’s deputy commander, Army Lt. Gen. James Richardson; and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Douglas Bush. Details here.
And another Senate subcommittee will assess U.S. Navy shipbuilding infrastructure at the same time, 2:30 p.m. ET. Principal Civilian Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition Jay Stefany will be joined by Navy Vice Adm. William Galinis of Naval Sea Systems Command, and Navy program officer Rear Adm. Troy McClelland. Livestream, here.