Today's D Brief: $450M in new US arms to Ukraine; Gun-violence bill advances; Troops lose right to abortion; Historic shipwreck found; And a bit more.
The U.S. is sending more weapons to Ukraine, including four more M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems like the ones that arrived in Ukraine this week. That was just an element of some $450 million in new security assistance announced Thursday by the Defense Department.
This latest batch includes 36,000 rounds of 105mm ammunition; 18 tactical vehicles to tow 155mm artillery; 1,200 grenade launchers; 2,000 machine guns; 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats; and those four HIMARS.
Not included: fighter jets or advanced air defenses, which are “two kinds of weapons that a small group of Ukrainian Air Force officers spent this week pressing Congress to provide,” our colleague Tara Copp reported Thursday.
New: Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from the eastern city of Severodonetsk, according to Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai. It was an anticipated decision as Russian forces advanced steadily under heavy bombardment over the past several weeks. “Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense,” Gaidai said on Twitter and in televised remarks, according to Reuters.
“Retreating from a few battles does not mean losing the war at all,” Ukraine’s top diplomat, Dmytro Kuleba, said Friday. “Putin wanted to occupy the Donbas by May 9. We are on June 24 and still fighting,” he said. The Associated Press has more, here.
America’s top diplomat was in Berlin Thursday discussing Russia-induced global food shortages ahead of a Group of Seven meeting in mountainous southern Germany. “The only reason for this now is Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and Russia’s blockade against grain and other foodstuffs moving out of Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday standing beside German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
“Russia is waging a cynical grain war, using it as a tool to make food prices skyrocketing and destabilize entire countries,” Baerbock said. “Together we try to open the sea routes, but in parallel, we also intensively work on rail connections even though this is technically very difficult. It is an ambitious endeavor.”
Get to better know how India and China are benefiting from super-cheap Russian oil via an export review from the New York Times, published Friday. One illuminating takeaway: “Before the Ukraine war, Russia accounted for about 1 percent of India’s oil needs. Russia is now poised to overtake Iraq as India’s primary source of oil this month.” That includes a rise of 33,000 barrels purchased each day last year to 1.15 million daily.
The new energy trends: “The Russian oil gradually flowing into Asia is replacing Saudi and other Middle Eastern oil, which is now finding its way to Europe,” the Times reports. And that “shift is creating heightened competition among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, with Iraq slashing prices to Europe.”
Big-picture consideration: “Russia invades its neighbors, causes an energy crisis, starves the world. The response must be complete isolation for as long as it takes,” said Paul Massaro of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is sometimes known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
However, recent polling from Europe suggests a notable split among those who want to end the war as soon as possible (35%) versus those who want to see Russia punished for invading a sovereign country (25%), according to the European Council on Foreign Relations. Poland was the only country polled whose citizens prefer justice over peace, as it were. And that would seem to indicate that “European citizens worry about the cost of economic sanctions and the threat of nuclear escalation,” ECFR writes.
One more thing: “Only in Poland, Germany, Sweden, and Finland is there substantial public support for boosting military spending,” according to the new data. Read on, here.
- “E.U. leaders make Ukraine a candidate for membership,” via the Washington Post, reporting Thursday;
- “EU leaders tackle inflation, energy shocks from Russia’s war,” AP reports Friday from Brussels;
- “Moscow-installed Official Killed In Ukraine's Kherson,” via Agence France-Presse, reporting Friday;
- And don’t miss “Why Ukraine’s Snake Island Is Key to Russia’s War Strategy,” via the Wall Street Journal’s video team, reporting Thursday.
From Defense One
US Sending More HIMARS Artillery to Ukraine // Tara Copp: Just days after announcing a new billion-dollar weapons shipment, the White House announces $450 million more.
The Energy Crisis Is a National-Security Opportunity // Morgan Bazilian and Emily Holland: It gives Biden the chance to offer a clear narrative: accelerating the move to clean energy is crucial to keeping America safe.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. 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 1943, a racist and violent incident developed among U.S. Army soldiers stationed in the northern England village of Bamber Bridge—and just three days after the so-called Detroit race riot erupted on the other side of the Atlantic. After drinking at a local pub in Bamber Bridge, a few dozen Black soldiers were reportedly ambushed by a white U.S. military police unit, killing one of the soldiers (Pvt. William Crossland) and wounding seven others (including two MPs) in an episode that escalated from an argument inside the bar into an exchange of gunfire through the evening. Afterward, 32 Black soldiers were court-martialed on charges that included mutiny. Read more about the episode from The Conversation, writing in 2019, here.
The Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade on Friday, sweeping away the federal right to an abortion. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in states that have passed or are expected to pass laws to outlaw the procedure. Map, here.
Fifteen Republicans joined all 50 Democratic senators to pass a $13 billion gun-violence bill (PDF) Thursday on Capitol Hill. “The legislation would toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states put in place red-flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged dangerous,” AP summarizes for readers. There’s also money for school safety and mental health programs.
Some observers view it as the most ambitious gun-violence legislation since the assault-weapons ban in the 1990s. Read more at CBS News or NPR.
And lastly this week: The wreck of the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE 413) has apparently been found deep off the Philippine island of Samar, where on Oct. 25, 1944, the destroyer escort and other relatively small ships fought off a far more powerful flotilla built around the Japanese battleship Yamato, the heaviest and most heavily gunned warship afloat.
The Roberts lies more than 22,600 feet down, making it the “deepest shipwreck ever located and surveyed,” tweeted Victor Vescovo, a former naval officer who piloted a deep-diving submersible to the bottom of the Philippine Sea.
The significance of the Battle off Samar can hardly be overstated. Making fierce, self-sacrificing runs at the enemy battleship and cruisers, the Roberts and her small companions drove off a force that would have wreaked havoc on the troopships invading Leyte. “In no engagement in its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in the two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar,” wrote naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison. Four ships have been named for the heroes and ships of the battle, include two subsequent USS Samuel B. Roberts: DD 823 and FFG 58. Have a safe weekend, and we’ll see you on Monday!