Today's D Brief: 'Global energy crisis' is here; US mulls HAWKs for Ukraine; 'Marshall Plan for the 21st century'; RIP, Ash Carter; And a bit more.
The world is amid its “first truly global energy crisis,” the chief of the International Energy Agency said during a speech at Singapore's International Energy Week on Tuesday. Based on the current global outlook given Russia’s Ukraine invasion, “Europe should go through this winter with some economic and social bruises,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol predicted.
But “the world still needs Russian oil to flow into the market for now,” he said, and also knocked a recent call by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut output by 2 million barrels per day. That decision from OPEC+ was “really unfortunate” and “especially risky as several economies around the world are on the brink of a recession.”
Big picture: “The OPEC+ supply cuts are expected to drive gains in oil prices,” which soared after Russia’s Ukraine invasion, but tapered off before OPEC acted recently, Business Insider reports. That’d be especially unwelcome news for many around the world since “A rally in crude oil prices would likely cause inflation to rise and both industrial production and growth to fall,” and that “could tip the global economy into a recession,” according to the IEA.
Birol’s advice: Don’t panic over possible supply disruptions, because “We still have huge amount of stocks to be released,” he said. But the “world is not at all out of the woods” in terms of natural gas supplies, which Europe is stocking up on now ahead of the cold months. Read more on Europe’s growing energy concerns below.
Developing: The Pentagon might pull old air defense missiles out of storage to send Ukraine, Reuters reported Tuesday. The systems include HAWK PIP III R ground-to-air missiles and their launchers, U.S. officials told Mike Stone of Reuters. The HAWK medium-range system is from the Vietnam era, Stone writes, but it’s been upgraded several times since. That could make it a welcome presence in the face of dozens of Iranian Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones widely used by Russia over the past six weeks—as long as the launchers still work, which Stone reports isn’t a sure thing just yet.
You may recall Spain is allegedly sending four HAWK systems to Ukraine, as we reported 11 days ago from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. So one idea the U.S. is considering involves just sending missiles initially, and possibly sending launchers later. A bit more, here.
New: Ukraine says it would like $1.5 billion in economic aid per month from both the U.S. and the European Union, according to the latest estimates tossed out publicly by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. Russia’s invasion has wiped out 35% of Ukraine’s economy, Shmyhal says; that’s why he’s asking Brussels and Washington for a $17 billion aid package on top of that combined $3 billion monthly ask, according to the Wall Street Journal. Germany’s chancellor on Tuesday equated the task of rebuilding Ukraine to “no less than the creation of a new Marshall Plan for the 21st century.” And it “can only be achieved by the entire global community, which is now lending its support to Ukraine,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Back stateside: Forget GOP isolationists, Senate Minority Leader McConnell sent a clear message of support for Ukraine in a press release Friday partly knocking Democrats in a somewhat hamfisted attack emphasizing the rising price of gas this year—partly because a political leader like McConnell must always be on the offensive, especially with midterm elections approaching; but mostly because, like the veteran lawmaker from Kentucky, America’s Democratic president and his national security apparatus also support military and financial aid to Ukraine.
For McConnell, the White House “must be quicker and more proactive to get Ukraine the aid they need.” But McConnell’s also not happy that the president has tried to keep gas prices low by tapping America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which he claimed “will make America more vulnerable to disruptions and manipulation of global energy markets.”
As far as support to Kyiv, future U.S. efforts “must include additional air defenses, long-range fires, and humanitarian and economic support to help this war-torn country endure the coming winter,” the minority leader said Friday. And if the GOP gains control of the Senate after Nov. 8, he promised to concentrate “oversight on ensuring timely delivery of needed weapons and greater allied assistance to Ukraine, rebuilding and modernizing our military capabilities, standing up to terrorist states like Iran, and shoring up our defenses in Asia to deter Chinese aggression.”
Despite recent teases of diminished Ukraine aid from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, McConnell emphasized that, “For our part, the United States Congress has funded and approved ongoing aid [to Ukraine] on an overwhelming bipartisan basis.” But getting back around to that political fighting spirit, he added, “It is not enough for the Biden Administration to slowly, eventually get around to providing it. It must be expedited.”
Rewind: 57 House Republicans and 11 in the Senate opposed Ukraine support when the $40 billion aid bill came around for a vote in May. And in a perhaps unsurprising overlap, on the House side, 50 of those 57 also voted to overturn the U.S. general election back in Jan. 2021. Only three of the 11 opposing Ukraine aid in the Senate this past May also voted to overturn the election in 2021; those three are Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming; Roger Marshall from Kansas; and Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville.
New: Thirty liberal House Democrats want President Biden to forge some kind of magical ceasefire with Russia’s Putin in what seems to be a bit of likely futile political posturing ahead of the midterms. The lawmakers shared their letter to the president communicating as much to the Washington Post on Monday.
For their part, they argue that, “The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks,” according to the letter. Their goal in demanding direct diplomacy with Russia is “to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire” in order to help give Putin “a way out,” the 30 progressive lawmakers write.
Not mentioned in that letter: How to give Ukraine back its occupied territory; though they do affirm “it is America’s responsibility to pursue every diplomatic avenue to support such a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.” Review the letter in full (PDF), here.
WH POV: “A lot of folks are struggling with inflation driven by Putin’s war in Ukraine and the global pandemic,” the president said Monday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. “It’s a little solace, but we have a lower inflation rate than most any nation in the world,” he said, and vowed in the months ahead to “reduce the burden on working- and middle-class folks by bringing down the costs of everyday things they have to work their families through.”
“Despite Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” Biden said, gas prices in the U.S. are “down $1.20 since this summer, and just this week they fell another 10 cents.” He also promised to “continue to insist the oil companies pass on the savings from lower price of a barrel of oil to a lower price for consumers at the pump.”
- “With GOP skeptics of Ukraine aid poised to gain seats in Congress, lawmakers look to lock in a huge military assistance package,” NBC News reported last Thursday;
- “U.S. Republicans aim at Ukraine aid but unlikely to block it,” Reuters reported Friday;
- Russia’s industry titan “Gazprom starts testing gas supplies from Kovykta field to China's pipeline,” Reuters reported Tuesday from Moscow;
- Read all about “The ships full of gas waiting off Europe’s coast,” via the BBC, extending similar weekend coverage from the Wall Street Journal we flagged Monday;
- And “Germany Bolsters Coal-Fired Power to Meet Winter Power Demand,” Bloomberg reported Friday.
From Defense One
Sanctions May Push Russia into 'Technological Regress' // Edward Graham: A CNAS report warned that Moscow's increased sense of vulnerability could lead it to “double down” on nuclear capabilities.
How Is the Air Force Doing at Cyber? // Lauren C. Williams: To answer the question, a new task force is working to map the service’s networks.
AI Tops Proposed Tech Amendments for the 2023 NDAA // Alexandra Kelley: One bipartisan proposal would create federal AI data libraries; others would further limit tech exchange with China.
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. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. On this day in 1983, the U.S. military invaded Grenada six days after the prime minister was executed in a coup d'état.
RIP, Ashton Baldwin Carter, America’s 25th defense secretary. The former 1980s Pentagon wonk who would later run the place in 2015 tragically passed Monday evening after a “sudden cardiac event,” according to a statement from his family. He was 68 years old.
Carter “devoted his professional life to the national security of the United States and teaching students about international affairs,” the family said. “He was a beloved husband, father, mentor, and friend. His sudden loss will be felt by all who knew him.” He’s survived by his wife, Stephanie, and his children, Ava and Will.
Educated at Yale and in Oxford, Carter worked throughout the early-to-mid 1980s on several secretive projects while at the Pentagon, including an assessment of the ambitious but unrealizable “Star Wars” missile defense program spearheaded by then-President Ronald Reagan. Carter himself told us about the experience in our podcast interview back in June 2019, after he had just published his memoir, “Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon.”
After his early years at the Pentagon, he spent more than a decade teaching at Harvard University in Boston. He’d later serve as director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He’s also credited with designing the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia,” which was stymied time and again by Russia’s 2014 Ukraine invasion and the rise of ISIS. The Belfer Center has more from Carter’s life and background, here; and stay tuned for additional coverage later today from our colleagues here Defense One.
Aviation stand down: The U.S. Navy’s fleet of T-45C training jets—used to train Navy and Marine Corps pilots—is grounded after one of the planes had a “low-pressure compressor blade failure” earlier this month, Navy Times reported Monday. The Navy pressed pause on using the jets on Oct. 14, saying then they wanted to “review an engine blade fault.”
One Afghan family that managed to get from Kabul to Washington last August is now living a nightmare, the Associated Press reported last week. Shortly after arriving, their little girl—a cousin who had been orphaned in a U.S. military raid—was taken and adopted by a U.S. Marine. The now 3 ½-year-old girl “is at the center of a high-stakes tangle of at least four court cases,” AP writes. Story, here.
And lastly: Three hundred and fifty airmen will receive awards soon for their actions during last August’s evacuation of Kabul, and more than 100 of those will be Distinguished Flying Crosses or Bronze Stars, Air Force Times reports. More than 4,500 medals have been approved for mobility airmen who participated in the largest non-combatant air evacuation in U.S. history, Rachel Cohen writes.