Today's D Brief: Putin's Ukraine invasion, one year later; 73% of the world demands Russia leave Ukraine; China's 12-pt peace plan; $2B in more US arms to Kyiv; And a bit more.
It’s been one year since Vladimir Putin’s fumbling Russian military invaded Ukraine, guided by the mistaken conviction that Ukrainians would stand aside and let the Russians absorb their country with little to no fuss. In the 12 months since, as many as 200,000 Russian soldiers are believed to have been either killed or wounded from the countless bouts of attacking and retreating that presently find Russian forces occupying roughly 20% of Ukraine’s southern and eastern territory.
February 24, 2022, was “the longest day of our lives,” Ukrainian President Voldymir Zelenskyy said in an address to his fellow countrymen Friday. He called the first day of Putin’s invasion “The most difficult day in our recent history; we woke up early and haven’t slept since.”
“A cruel war of choice” is how America’s military chief has described Russia’s invasion, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did so again in a statement Friday marking the one-year anniversary of Ukraine resisting Putin’s latest imperial ambitions. “Today and every day, we stand by the courageous Ukrainians fighting to defend their country, and we mourn with those who have lost their loved ones in Moscow's monstrous and unnecessary war,” Austin said. “Difficult times may lie ahead, but let us remain clear-eyed about what is at stake in Ukraine; and let us remain united in purpose and in action—and steadfast in our commitment to ensure that a world of rules and rights is not replaced by one of tyranny and turmoil.”
141 out of 193 countries in the United Nations voted on Thursday for a resolution calling on Russia to leave Ukraine and end Putin’s ongoing invasion. Thirty-two nations declined to vote, including China, India, Iran, and Cuba. Review the full tally from around the globe, here.
The signatories—representing nearly 75% of the world—called for “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,” and they “demand[ed] that the Russian Federation immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.” The 141 UN members also called for “an immediate cessation of the attacks on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine and any deliberate attacks on civilian objects, including those that are residences, schools and hospitals.”
- Just six countries voted in support of Russia: North Korea, Syria, Belarus, Eritrea, Mali, and Nicaragua.
White House POV: “A year into this conflict, the international community remains steadfast in upholding our shared values, including the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity that are the foundation of the UN Charter, and accountability for violations of international law, including Russia’s war of aggression,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement Thursday, calling the UN vote “an overwhelming demonstration of support for Ukraine—and a clear defense of freedom for people everywhere.”
“We refuse to accept a world governed by fear and force,” said U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink in her own message marking the day. “We stand for freedom, we stand with Ukraine,” she added.
Seven former NATO commanders urge the U.S. to do everything it can to ensure Ukraine does not fall. That lineup includes Army Generals Wesley Clark (who served from 1997-2000) and Curtis Scaparrotti (2016-2019); Marine Gen. James Jones (2003-2006); Navy Adm. James Stavridis (2009-2013); and Air Force Generals Joseph Ralston (2000-2003); Phil Breedlove (2013-2016), and Tod Wolters (2019-2022). Read over their argument in Defense One, here.
New: The Pentagon is sending another $2 billion in security aid to Ukraine, including several drone systems (CyberLux K8s, Switchblade 600s, Altius-600s, and Jump 20s), laser-guided rocket rounds, more HIMARS long-range artillery rounds, more 155 mm artillery rounds, and more.
‘More, more, more.’ Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson teamed up with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to advocate for sending more weapons to Ukraine as soon as possible. That’s because Putin’s Ukraine invasion won’t stop at just Ukraine, they argue. “Unless Russian troops are purged from Ukrainian territory, Mr. Putin will bide his time, waiting to attack again,” Graham and BoJo wrote in the op-ed section of the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. “He will continue to menace the Georgians, Moldovans, Balts and everyone living in the periphery of the old Soviet empire. Unless he is fully defeated in Ukraine, Mr. Putin’s revanchist ambitions won’t be checked.”
Send Kyiv tanks and planes now, Graham and Johnson say. “By ensuring that Ukraine wins and that Mr. Putin finally fails, we are making the best and most financially efficient investment in the long-term security not only of the Euro-Atlantic area, but of the whole world,” they write. Read on, here.
Coverage continues below the fold…
From Defense One
EXCLUSIVE: Seven Former NATO Supreme Allied Commanders Say U.S. ‘Must Do Everything We Can’ for a Ukrainian Victory // James Stavridis, James L. Jones, Wesley K. Clark, Philip Breedlove, Joseph Ralston, Curtis Scaparrotti, and Tod Wolters: "Now is the time for America and its allies to dig deeper to get Ukraine what it needs to win."
Less Efficient, More Resilient: The Marine Corps’ Plan for Modernizing its Logistics Operations // Jennifer Hlad: Installations and Logistics 2030 document is latest release in the service’s ongoing Force Design efforts.
One Year On, Why Putin Has Already Lost the War // Patrick Tucker: “I do not see how Putin could maintain support of the elite for two or three years”
Why War Pledges for Ukraine Fell Flat in Munich // Kevin Baron: Biden, Harris, and other world leaders pledged to help Ukraine fight for “as long as it takes.” So why does nobody believe them?
Coast Guard to Triple Western-Pacific Deployments, Policy Chief Says // Lauren C. Williams: The small maritime service is contending with data and connectivity challenges as it looks to expand its presence in the Pacific.
Welcome to this Friday 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.
Chinese officials just shared a 12-point plan for a cease-fire and peace talks as Beijing tries to maintain its cordial “no limits friendship” with Russia and Vladimir Putin, as the two nations’ autocratic leaders jointly declared one year ago in China. The proposal calls for respecting the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries” and an end to “unilateral” sanctions against Russia, the Associated Press reports from Beijing. A German official told AP the proposal is all well and good, however, it’s missing one major element: “first and foremost the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.”
NATO reax: “China doesn't have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Friday during a trip to Tallinn to mark Estonia’s Independence Day. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was traveling with Stoltenberg and concurred, noting, “China has already taken sides by signing, for example, an unlimited friendship right before the invasion.” Tiny bit more from Reuters.
The view from Berlin: “The sooner Putin realizes that he will not achieve his imperialist goal, the greater the chance of an end to the war,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a message to Germans and the rest of the world on Friday. He also reiterated those points and several others in an interview with the German newspaper Bild this week; read that over via Google Translate, here.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are sending out their sternly-worded statements marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion. That includes Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell; New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand; Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn; Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters; his Illinois colleague Sen. Tammy Duckworth; Mississippi GOP Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, as well as their Massachusetts colleague Mitt Romney; Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly and his Maryland colleagues Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin; Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown; Iowa Democrat Chuck Grassley and Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine; Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal; West Virginia GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito; Democratic Sens. Edward Markey from Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley from Oregon, as well as Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia, and California's John Garamendi in a joint statement; And Republican Reps. Michael McCaul from Texas, Mike Turner from Ohio, and election denier Mike Rogers from Alabama in their own joint statement.
When it comes to tactics in the conflict, “The reality is that this cruel and vicious Russian invasion has seen more continuity than change in warfare,” retired Australian Army Maj. Gen. Mick Ryan wrote on Twitter on Friday. What’s more, “Alliances, so vital in many previous wars, have proven essential to the survival of Ukraine. NATO has found new purpose, and its members (as well as other nations) have provided massive economic, humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. Russia has no such support,” Ryan said. Continue reading his in-depth explanatory thread, here.
We have several related articles on warfare takeaways from 12 months of a new invasion in Europe. Two of those were published by the Wall Street Journal—here, and here—Friday; the Associated Press has this; Reuters has this; the New York Times on Thursday published a multimedia interactive on the seemingly limited impact of allied sanctions against Russia’s economy; Garrett Graff wrote an “insiders’ oral history” of the conflict for Politico;
Read still more:
- “Canada, one year into the Ukraine war: ‘It’s not time to talk about peace,’” Politico reported Friday from Ottawa;
- “Heineken reneges on its promise and invests in Russia,” a little outlet called Follow the Money reported Thursday;
- “Russian propagandists are buying Twitter blue-check verifications,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday;
- “U.S. accuses Russian finance officials of complicity in war,” Reuters reported Friday from India;
- “U.S. Eyes Detailing Beijing’s Potential Arms Aid to Russia,” the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday;
- “Bulgarian Factories and Secret Task Forces: How the West Hunts for Soviet Arms,” the New York Times reported Thursday;
- And “Taiwan sees China taking lessons from Russia's Ukraine invasion,” Reuters reported Friday from Taipei.
Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll catch you again on Monday!