Today's D Brief: 200 Canadian APCs to Ukraine; Dutch weigh Patriots to Kyiv; Contact meeting lookahead; Army's new pay system; And a bit more.

Ukraine war latest: Kyiv’s interior minister died Wednesday in an apparent helicopter crash outside of the capital. His name is Denys Monastyrsky, age 42; and he perished along with 16 others, including four children who were reportedly on the ground when the helicopter crashed in heavy fog beside a school in Brovary, east of Kyiv. Monastyrsky assumed his job in July 2021, and “is the most senior Ukrainian official to die since the war began almost a year ago,” the BBC reports. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba shared his condolences on Twitter, describing the crash as a “Huge loss for all of us.”

New: Canada is donating 200 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, Ottawa’s defense chief announced Wednesday from Kyiv during a meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart. Canada has already sent a National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, 39 other armored support vehicles, various anti-tank weapons, M777 Howitzers, and more. In terms of total military support to Ukraine, Canada ranks fifth behind Poland, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. in the top slot, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin is flying to Germany today to meet with Berlin’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius; Reuters’ Idrees Ali tweeted a photo of Austin’s departure from the tarmac Wednesday morning. The Pentagon-led Ukraine Contact Group will also be meeting Friday at Ramstein Air Base. Joint Chiefs Chairman U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley will be meeting Austin at Ramstein for that one, which is the eighth overall, and fifth in-person session since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. 

In case you missed it, Milley traveled to Poland where he spoke face-to-face with his Ukrainian counterpart, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, for the first time on Tuesday. “They discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and exchanged perspectives and assessments,” and Milley “reaffirmed [Washington’s] unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Joint Staff said in a short statement

  • Who will be the next Joint Chief? The Wall Street Journal reminded us Tuesday that Milley’s term ends on Sept. 30—after which he could be replaced by Air Force chief Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger, or Cyber Command’s Army Gen. Paul Nakasone. The White House is expected to make that nomination official sometime in the spring.

Coverage continues below… 

From Defense One

Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Slow deliveries to Ukraine; Debt-ceiling showdown; New F-35 radar; and more.

Army Special Operators Seek to Reduce Suicide with ‘Bottom-Led’ Approach // Lauren C. Williams: Units have been ordered to develop anti-suicide efforts based on the USASOC's new strategy.

New Parental Leave Policy Could Help Retention, Recruiting // Caitlin M. Kenney: Mandated change gives 12 weeks’ leave to all new parents.

Army Debuts Improved Smartphone-Friendly Pay System  // Lauren C. Williams: Starting Jan. 17, more than 1 million soldiers will be able to try out the new, more automated HR system.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to this newsletter, you can do that here.

New: The Dutch say they want to send a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, which is something the U.S. and Germany have also done. But the development, which Bloomberg reported ahead of the announcement Tuesday, isn’t official yet…though it could be by Friday’s Ukraine Contact Group meeting.
“We have the intention to join what you are doing with Germany on the Patriots project,” Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday at the White House. “I think that [it] is important that we join that,” he said while standing beside President Joe Biden. (Biden rang his German counterpart later on Tuesday; the White House says they discussed Ukraine, and Berlin emphasized the “close coordination” between Ukraine’s allies.)
From Rutte’s perspective, “I'm convinced that history will judge that in 2022, if the United States would not have stepped up like you did, that things would have been very different at the moment in the fight between Ukraine and Russian aggression,” he told Biden.
“On accountability, we can never accept that Putin and Russia get away with this,” said Rutte. “So, accountability to take them to court to make sure that this all gets done in a legal way is crucial. And I know that you and I are working on this,” he said to his U.S. counterpart.
Rutte visited Washington just a few days after a particularly deadly Russian airstrike on an apartment block in the city of Dnipro on Saturday, killing at least 44 people. “These are horrible pictures” out of Dnipro, Rutte told reporters. “And I think it strengthens even more our resolve to stay with Ukraine.”
Meanwhile in Belgium, NATO defense officials are meeting for the first of a two-day session in Brussels. Developments in Ukraine lead the first day’s agenda; NATO missions in Iraq and Kosovo will be discussed Thursday, alliance officials said.
“Russia is fighting a brutal, senseless war in Ukraine; and by weaponizing energy and food, they are hurting millions of people around the world,” said Dutch Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, Wednesday in Brussels. “We are seeing the dawn of a new era of collective defense,” Bauer said, and assured his audience that “it is an era that NATO is ready for.”
Putin could announce “a second mobilization wave” as soon as today, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War wrote Tuesday evening. That’s because the Russian autocrat is speaking today in St. Petersburg “in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Soviet forces breaking the Nazi siege of Leningrad, Putin’s hometown,” ISW reports. “Putin is fond of using symbolic dates to address the Russian people, and some Russian pro-war milbloggers noted that he will seize this opportunity to either declare mobilization or war with Ukraine,” they warn. Read on, here.
“Putin is preparing for a long war,” said alliance Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană in Brussels on Wednesday. “He has already mobilized over 200,000 more troops, many of whom are in training. He is scaling up Russian military production, and sourcing more weapons from other authoritarian regimes, including Iran.”
“But perhaps most importantly, we have no indication that Putin’s goals have changed,” Geoană said. “So we must be prepared for the long haul. 2023 will be a difficult year. And we need to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Geoană’s advice to NATO members: “First: we need to invest more in defense,” he said, echoing the “2% [of GDP] target set in Wales almost a decade ago.” Second, “we need to ramp up our industrial capacity to manufacture weapons and ammunition…And finally: while learning the lessons from this war, we also need to prepare for potential future wars and continue to transform NATO for the digital age.”
Let’s not forget: “This war could end today, if President Putin decides to stop it,” Bauer reminded his fellow military chiefs. “But until it does, we will continue supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said.
In video: Ukraine’s military has another message for allies and partners helping Kyiv fend off that Russian invasion. “Send your tanks to Ukraine now so you don't have to deal with Russian tanks later,” the military wrote Tuesday promoting its nearly minute-long plea, which you can find on Twitter, here
For some diversionary reading: Get a little bit smarter on Russian military logistics and adaptability thanks to a lengthy Twitter thread from a Ukrainian officer, writing Tuesday.
Additional reading (and viewing): 

And lastly: This afternoon in Washington, analytics firm Govini is hosting a Commercial Data Summit at The Anthem, along the southwest waterfront, a few blocks south of the International Spy Museum. Events get underway at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Speakers include Pentagon veteran Robert Work; former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr.; analyst Michael Horowitz; Rep. Elissa B. Slotkin, D-Mich.; and more. Details and registration, here.