Today's D Brief: More artillery to Ukraine; Milley on Kyiv's progress so far; Russian annexation plans; F-35 deliveries paused; And a bit more.
The United States is sending quite a bit more artillery to Ukraine’s military. It’s part of a new $675 million package of arms, and it comes with a related assortment of more than $2 billion in financial aid to help 18 neighboring countries “who are most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression,” according to the U.S. State Department.
The new weaponry includes ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems; four howitzers and 36,000 rounds of ammo for them; an unspecified number of additional High-speed Anti-radiation missiles; a thousand Remote Anti-Armor Mine System rounds; 100 more humvees; night-vision devices; at least 5,000 unspecified anti-armor systems; grenade launchers; 1,500,000 rounds of small arms ammunition; and more.
The 18 nations the State Department believes Vladimir Putin may choose to invade next include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Almost 200 days into Putin’s Ukraine invasion, the U.S. military is now hoping Kyiv’s troops can begin to “reclaim their sovereign territory,” as Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said Thursday, shortly before his fifth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which ties together allies to help strategize in Ukraine’s defense.
“We're here because we refuse to live in a world where big powers trample borders by force,” Austin said during that contact group meeting at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base. “Every day, we see the resolve of the allies and partners worldwide who are helping Ukraine resist Russia’s illegal, imperial, and indefensible war of conquest,” he said, and noted with an eye to the future that, “Today, this Contact Group needs to position itself to sustain Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul” because, he said, “we must evolve as the fight evolves.”
Coming soon: America’s top armaments industrial makers will meet with Ukrainian officials to discuss how to more efficiently help Kyiv’s troops in the months ahead, Austin said Thursday.
“So far Russian strategic objectives have been defeated,” said Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley, standing beside Austin on Thursday. “The war’s not over,” he cautioned, before repeating that first line once more, and adding, “It’s a war; there is give and take, action and reaction, and counteraction.”
“We are seeing real and measurable gains” for Ukraine using U.S.-made weapons, like HIMARS artillery, Milley said. “The nature of war is often unpredictable,” he said; “but we are committed, along with Ukraine, to maintaining [that] they are a free and sovereign country.”
Battlefield latest: Ukraine says its troops have advanced 50 kilometers inside occupied territory around Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine. That’s according to a statement from Brig. Gen. Oleksiy Gromov on Thursday, and it followed an advance retaking approximately 400 square kilometers of ground in the region on Wednesday, according to the Institute for the Study of War, which called that operation “an opportunistic yet highly effective counteroffensive northwest of Izyum.” Otherwise, a vast array of strikes and counterstrikes took place across the east and the south in the past 24 hours; and those are enumerated in greater detail by the Ukraine military’s general staff, here.
Russian planners are now targeting November 4 to hold sham referendums to annex occupied Ukrainian territory, officials announced Wednesday. That’s according to Russian Federation Council First Deputy Chairman Andrey Turchak, who announced that the votes would take place on what’s known as Russian National Unity Day, which first took place more than 400 years ago during the Polish-Russian War.
Worth noting: Russian officials had been eyeing a closer date for those votes, including by mid-September. But recent setbacks appear to have helped push the new targeted date back nearly two months, as ISW writes, citing “continued failures to impose their authority and the disruption of ongoing Ukrainian operations.”
War crimes watch: Gain a better grasp on how Russia is forcefully deporting Ukrainians via an overview of the Kremlin’s “filtration operations,” summarized succinctly in one mapped illustration produced this week by the U.S. State Department and shared by Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel on Wednesday evening.
- “Putin's energy gamble may prove a double-edged sword for Russia,” via Reuters, reporting Thursday from Moscow;
- “Belgium calls for price cap on all gas EU imports, not only from Russia,” Reuters reported separately Thursday, from Brussels;
- “Shock Waves Hit the Global Economy, Posing Grave Risk to Europe,” the New York Times reported Thursday from London;
- “Russia Destroyed Mariupol. Now It’s Using It for Propaganda,” the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday;
- “Most-Accurate US Artillery Shell Is Quietly Added to Ukraine Aid,” via Bloomberg, following Politico’s lead first reporting on these Excalibur rounds nearly two months ago.
From Defense One
US Should Place Multiyear Munitions Orders to Protect Supply, Pentagon Arms Chief Says // Marcus Weisgerber: Meanwhile, service officials are working with Pentagon leaders on 18-month plans to supply Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Supporters Aim to Create Long-Term Aid Mechanisms // Patrick Tucker: Leaders from NATO, the U.S., and others will gather to discuss ideas on Thursday.
US Trained Ukrainian Missileers Who Sunk Russian Warship, Pentagon Official Says // Marcus Weisgerber: Bill LaPlante also praised the quick “innovation” that delivered truck-mounted Harpoon missiles to Ukraine.
After Roe, ‘We Do Have Options’ to Avoid Anti-Abortion States, Army Chief Says // Kevin Baron: As ever, soldiers can indicate their station preferences—but the Army’s needs come first, Gen. McConville says.
Iranian Hacker Group Posed as Journalists to Hunt Dissidents // Patrick Tucker: Group spent weeks trying to fool specific targets with intricate appeals—including U.S campaign staff.
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U.S. Army Futures Command could get a new leader soon. Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo announced during a Defense News conference panel Wednesday that Lt. Gen. James Rainey has been nominated to be the next commander of Army Futures Command, a position that has sat vacant following the retirement of its first commander Gen. John Murray in December. The command is undergoing a period of turbulence about its role in the Army’s modernization efforts. More on that, via Defense News, here.
The Pentagon has stopped deliveries of new F-35s after learning an alloy used in magnets in the 5th-generation fighter’s engine was made in China, Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio reported Wednesday. An alternative source for the alloy has already been identified for use in future jets, and the issue will not affect the F-35s the U.S. had already accepted, because “the magnet does not transmit information or harm the integrity of the aircraft and there are no performance, quality, safety or security risks associated with this issue,” a Pentagon spokesman told Bloomberg.
The Defense Contract Management Agency is looking into how a Chinese alloy ended up in the F-35’s engine in the first place, and “if the government determines Lockheed Martin violated the Buy American statute, the company would need a national security waiver for deliveries to resume,” Politico reports.
Lastly today: U.S. Central Command is working on a plan for a new facility in Saudi Arabia to test new anti-drone tech and “develop and test integrated air and missile defense capabilities,” NBC News’ Courtney Kube reported Wednesday. Early plans are calling the facility the Red Sands Integrated Experimentation Center, Kube writes. More details, here.