Today's D Brief: Zelenskyy's new requests; Russians advance in Severodonetsk; Pope knocks Putin's invasion; #D1TechSummit, day 2; And a bit more.

Ukraine needs more long-range weaponry like tanks and drones, President Volodymir Zelenskyy said during an online briefing Tuesday. Fortunately, German howitzers will be ready very soon, Berlin’s defense minister said separately on Tuesday. 

“We have enough [ammunition],” the Ukrainian president said. “What we don't have enough of are the weapons that really hits the range that we need to reduce the advantage of the Russian Federation's equipment.”

Context: “Germany pledged in May to supply Kyiv with seven self-propelled howitzers, adding to five such artillery systems the Netherlands have promised,” Reuters reports. 

Russian forces have taken about 80% of the eastern city of Severodonetsk, the Associated Press reports from Ukraine. And nearby shelling is too intense for most residents to attempt to flee the city now, according to the Luhansk governor, Serhiy Haidai. “Russian troops are trying to storm the city, but the military is holding firm,” Severodonetsk’s mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, said. Meanwhile, “Russia's separatist proxies said any Ukrainian troops left behind must surrender or die,” according to Reuters, reporting separately on Tuesday. 

Russia continues “weaponizing food,” the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff said Tuesday on Twitter. According to Andriy Yermak, “Russia is creating a food crisis and trying to sell stolen Ukrainian grain, particularly to African countries,” he tweeted Tuesday morning. “Russia seeks to simultaneously destroy its market rival and increase its influence in the region through blackmail,” he says. 

Yermak’s advice? The U.S. and its allies must begin “adopting a Ukrainian ports unblocking strategy ASAP.” 

Even the Pope is calling Russia’s invasion “cruel,” “ferocious,” and a “miscalculation.” That’s according to his remarks from a recent conversation that was published Tuesday in Rome, Reuters reports. “The Russians thought it would all be over in a week,” said Pope Francis. “But they miscalculated. They encountered a brave people, a people who are struggling to survive and who have a history of struggle.” 

But he didn’t close the door entirely on Russia, suggesting vaguely that Putin was “perhaps in some way provoked” into invading Ukraine. Yet when asked if that ambiguity makes him pro-Putin, he said no, and that, “It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing.” More here.

Additional reading: 

From Defense One

Ukraine Will Survive and the US is Preparing to Arm it for Years, Says Pentagon’s Hicks // Patrick Tucker: Deputy Defense Secretary Hicks discusses Russia, China, and inflation’s effects on the Pentagon’s buying power at the 7th Annual Defense One Tech Summit.

‘No Way to Say’ When Turkey Will Release Hold on Sweden, Finland, Says NATO’s Stoltenberg  // Jacqueline Feldscher: With Madrid deadline looming, “the progress is maybe just the fact that we have open lines” of communication, Finland’s president said.

China’s ‘Particle Beam Cannon’ Is a Nuclear-Power Breakthrough // Peter W. Singer and Thomas Corbett: It promises to recycle spent nuclear fuel, making it cheaper and less dangerous—and moving Beijing toward energy independence.

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad and Caitlin Kenney. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. On this day in 1900, the German empire passed the second of five naval laws designed to build Kaiser Wilhelm II a navy that could take on the British—giving Germany an easier path to colonize Africa and the Pacific. The Kaiser would get his desired confrontation with the Brits 14 years later with the beginning of World War I; but his army and navy would gradually lose the war, causing him to abdicate the throne in November 1918.

Tech Summit, day 2: Defense One’s 7th annual Tech Summit continues today with a slate of cyber-related interviews and panels.
Kicking things off: 

  • At 1 p.m., U.S. Cyber Command’s Executive Director Dave Frederick will sit down for an interview with Lauren Williams of Federal Computer Week and Defense Systems. 
  • At 1:50, Defense One’s Patrick Tucker leads a discussion on next-generation cyber deterrence with retired Navy Adm. Mike Rogers, former commander of Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency; and Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and chairman of Silverado Policy Accelerator. 
  • And at 2:50, Tucker interviews Neal Higgins, the deputy national cyber director for national cybersecurity. Register here for access to these and the rest of the week’s events. 

Also happening today: The Pentagon’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Joe Bryan, will join a panel discussion this afternoon hosted by the Center for Climate and Security. That gets started at 2 p.m. ET. Details, here.

Spotted in New Mexico: Advice we could all benefit from when it comes to sharing on social media. That is, “Use your brain—think before you post.” It was seen on a poster Associated Press reporter Chris Megerian noticed at a National Guard base this week, and then shared on his social media account (of course). 

Several former Afghan officials that fled the country last August have been living in luxury homes abroad, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday—going a bit farther than the Washington Post did reporting a related angle in March. The homes are in places like California, Turkey, and the UAE. The officials include Afghanistan’s last finance minister, Khalid Payenda; former President Ashraf Ghani; Hamdullah Mohib, Ghani's former national security advisor; Eklil Hakimi, one of Ghani's prior finance ministers; former vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum; and more.
Why it matters: “Their experience contrasts sharply with the tens of thousands of Afghans struggling to pay their rent in America and scattered around the world in encampments and overcrowded housing,” the Journal’s Jessica Donati writes. Continue reading, here.
Related reading: 

Lastly today: Safety stand downs continue. The U.S. Marine Corps has ordered all aviation units to conduct a one-day safety stand down between June 21 and July 1, just days after five Marines died in an MV-22B Osprey crash in California. The Corps has had six Class-A mishaps since January, including another deadly MV-22B crash in Norway in March.
BTW: The Navy held its own safety pause on Monday for all non-deployed units. A Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter crashed in California the day after the Marine Osprey crash in the same area, though luckily in that case, all four crew members survived. Before that, the Navy had six Class-A mishaps since January, in which two people were killed.
And ICYMI: Retired Marine Gen. John Allen has resigned as president of the Brookings Institution, following news of a federal investigation into whether he lied about lobbying on behalf of Qatar. AP has more, reporting Sunday, here.