Today's D Brief: New, old Western arms to Ukraine; EU leaders in Kyiv; Grain bins for Ukraine; ISIS leader captured in Syria; And a bit more.
Lots more weapons are headed to Ukraine. After several days of requests from officials in Kyiv, the White House said Wednesday that it’s sending another billion dollars in weapons to Ukraine. That includes more howitzer artillery systems, Javelin anti-tank weapons, Harpoon anti-ship rockets, and more.
So far, the U.S. and allies have given Ukraine almost 97,000 anti-tank systems, America’s top military officer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley, told reporters Wednesday during the first of two days of defense talks with top Ukrainian military officials in Brussels. That’s “More anti-tank systems than there are tanks in the world,” he said.
And that’s certainly not all. “They asked for 10 battalions of artillery; 12 battalions of artillery were delivered,” Milley continued. “They asked for 200 tanks; they got 237 tanks. They asked for 100 infantry fighting vehicles; they got over 300. We've delivered, roughly speaking, 1,600 or so air defense systems and about 60,000 air defense rounds.”
Milley’s big-picture take: “It's a fair statement to say that [Russian forces are] gaining ground tactically, but it's very, very slow,” he told NPR in a short interview on Wednesday.
“War takes many, many turns,” he told reporters in Brussels. “The Ukrainians are fighting them street by street, house by house.” But right now and in the days ahead, he warned, “I would say that the numbers clearly favor the Russians.”
Still, “The Russians have lost probably somewhere in the tune of 20 to 30 percent of their armored force,” the chairman said, and added, “That's significant. That's huge. So the Ukrainians are fighting a very effective fight tactically with both fires and maneuver.”
Coverage continues below…
From Defense One
Russia Might Try Reckless Cyber Attacks as Ukraine War Drags On, US Warns // Patrick Tucker: Ground commanders have been unable to capitalize on at least one previous cyber strike.
US Pledges More Weapons to Ukraine, But Milley Warns ‘The Numbers Clearly Favor The Russians’ // Tara Copp: More Javelins, Howitzers, long-range rockets are on the way, but will they arrive in time to make a difference?
‘Obsolete’ NATO Force Presence in Baltics Needs Upgrade, Estonian Defense Leader Says // Jacqueline Feldscher: “It’s a joke” that Russia would be deterred by a battalion, secretary says.
Tomorrow’s Missile-Warning Satellites Will Join SBIRS, Not Replace Them: Space Systems Command // Tara Copp: Off-the-shelf spacecraft and lunar-mission gear are also on the table for Space Force’s acquisition command.
Welcome to this Thursday 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. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. “A house divided against itself, cannot stand,” 49-year-old Abraham Lincoln famously said on this day in 1858.
The Germans now say they’ll send Ukraine three Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, following on the heels of American and British MLRS transfers to Kyiv’s forces, defense officials announced Wednesday.
Three M270 Mittleres Artillerie Raketen Systems will be transferred to Ukraine, according to a joint statement between the three donor countries Wednesday. That comes on top of four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems from the U.S., and three M270 MLRS launchers from the Brits.
Also new: “Slovakia announced a donation of Mi-series helicopters and of urgently needed rocket ammunition,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Thursday on Twitter. “We also discussed new artillery donations from many countries, including Canada, Poland, and the Netherlands.”
The Brits are also reportedly buying old Belgian artillery to polish up and send to Ukraine, according to Deborah Haynes of Sky News. Haynes also reports British defense chief Ben Wallace predicts notable advances from Ukrainian troops in the weeks ahead. “I think the Ukrainians have and will have in the next few weeks the capabilities in their hands to make significant progress in the east of the country,” Wallace said Thursday in Brussels.
New in town: The leaders of France, Germany, and Italy dropped by Kyiv for an unannounced visit with Ukraine’s President Volodymir Zelenskyy on Thursday. The four leaders together visited the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, scene of several alleged atrocities committed by Russian-backed forces. “We saw the devastated city and the stigmata of barbarism,” France’s Emmanuel Macron tweeted from Irpin. “And the heroism, too, of the Ukrainians who stopped the Russian army as it descended on Kyiv. Ukraine resists. She must be able to win.” Germany’s Olaf Scholz was less emotive in his tweet from Irpin. However, he did state clearly that part of his reason for visiting Kyiv was “to show that the aid that we are providing—financial, humanitarian, but also in terms of weapons—will be continued.” The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters, and the Associated Press have more.
ICYMI: The U.S. will help build grain bins for Ukraine to help with the looming food crisis from Putin’s invasion, President Joe Biden said Tuesday. The idea is to circumvent Russia’s Black Sea blockade by using Ukraine’s rail system to ship tons of Kyiv’s delayed grain exports to at least some of the world’s markets.
Context: “Since late February, Ukraine has been shipping agricultural exports via rail, road, and river routes at a fraction of its previous seaport capacity,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported Wednesday in a new analysis featuring satellite imagery of a destroyed rail bridge and food warehouse. “Tens of millions of tons of agricultural products are blocked in port cities, alternate export routes face bottlenecks in neighboring states, and Ukrainian farmers are quickly running out of storage for harvested grain.”
“We’re going to build silos, temporary silos, in the borders of Ukraine,” Biden said Tuesday in Philadelphia, “including in Poland, so we can transfer it from those cars into those silos, into cars in Europe, and get it out to the ocean, and get it across the world. But it’s taking time.”
Developing: Two American volunteers have allegedly been captured by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, The Telegraph reported Wednesday. Reuters confirmed their missing status with family members later on Wednesday. Both are U.S. military veterans.
This week in lesser-heated territorial disputes, Canada and Denmark have resolved a nearly half-century beef over an Arctic rock between Greenland and Canada. It’s called Hans Island, and you can see it on Google Maps here. The New York Times calls it a “kidney shaped piece of rock” that’s now the site of a compromise and new framework of cooperation between the two nations. According to the Times, “The island will be split, with about 60 percent of the rock becoming Denmark and the rest becoming Canada.”
“When you look at what’s going on in the world right now, particularly since the invasion by Russia of Ukraine, we really wanted to give more momentum and renew our energies to make sure that we would find a solution,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly to reporters in Ottawa this week. Read more about the history of Canada and Denmark’s “Whisky war” in this BBC report from Wednesday, or this from the Washington Post on Tuesday.
- “Echoes of WWI in Ukraine war's artillery duels and trenches,” via Agence France-Presse, reporting Tuesday;
- “Russian economy ‘won’t be as it was,’ central banker says,” AP reports Thursday from St. Petersburg;
- “In energy-strapped Europe, coal gets a Greek encore,” also via AP, reporting Thursday from Greece;
- “Big Macs still sold in Russia despite McDonald's exit,” via Reuters, reporting Thursday;
- And “Dutch Spies Foil Russian Plot to Infiltrate War Crimes Court,” via Bloomberg, reporting Thursday; catch some of the details via The Guardian’s Pjotr Sauer over on Twitter, here.
The U.S. military captured a top ISIS leader during a raid in Syria on Thursday. Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi is an experienced bomb maker who was “actively planning ISIS operations,” ABC News reported. U.S. officials said no civilians or U.S. troops were harmed during the ground raid.
U.S. Central Command head Gen. Erik Kurilla: “Though degraded, ISIS remains a threat. We remain dedicated to its defeat.”
Also in the region:
- “GAO: US failed to track if arms used against Yemen civilians,” via AP, reporting Wednesday.
- “In Yemen, child soldiering continues despite Houthi promise,” also via AP, reporting today.
And lastly: Today is the fourth day of our 7th annual Tech Summit. We’ve got several one-on-one interviews planned, including DARPA’s Dr. Stefanie Tompkins and the Pentagon’s Emerging Capabilities Policy Office Director, Dr. Michael Horowitz, as well as a panel discussion on hypersonics.