Today's D Brief: DeSantis wants US to abandon Ukraine; Pentagon budget day, in review; DOD CTO in conversation; And a bit more.

Ron DeSantis says America should stop protecting Ukraine, the New York Times reported Monday evening. The Florida governor’s capitulation to Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion puts him in league with what conservative writer Kimberley Strassel called the “G.O.P.’s surrender caucus,” which includes former President Donald Trump, who declared last week he had no problem letting Russia “take over” parts of Ukraine. DeSantis delivered his isolationist position in a statement Monday evening on conservative firebrand Tucker Carlson’s TV show. 

“While the U.S. has many vital national interests,” which include “securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness with our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party,” the Harvard-trained former lawyer said “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.” 

His anti-Ukraine position aligns him with Trump and the far-right GOP, which makes sense as DeSantis is widely expected to announce his presidential candidacy soon. Other top Republicans, like Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, and Nikki Haley, e.g., are strong public supporters of Ukraine, its territorial integrity, and its democratic independence. Not so with DeSantis, who previously supported Ukraine’s defense against Russia when it was more politically convenient—as a June 2015 interview with CNN shows. Read more at the Times, here

ICYMI: Canada banned Russian aluminum and steel imports in an announcement from Ottawa late last week. For a sense of the scope, “In 2021, Canada imported $45 million of aluminum and $213 million of steel products from Russia,” officials said Friday. 

“Ukraine can and must win this war,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement. “Canada, and our partners, have already sanctioned the Russian Central Bank and capped the price of Russian oil and gas. And now, we are ensuring Putin cannot pay for his war by selling aluminum and steel in Canada.”  

Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy thanked Canada for the ban in his evening address Monday. “We must not only limit the capability of the terrorist state to circumvent existing sanctions, but also impose new ones to prevent Russia from adapting to global pressure,” Zelenkyy said, and stressed, “The less Russia's ability to adapt to sanctions, the sooner we can restore the territorial integrity of our country and return peace to Ukraine.”

Coverage continues below…

From Defense One

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Army Focuses on China and Ukraine-Related Ammo Production in 2024 Budget // Sam Skove: Army wants more spending on hypersonic weapons and plans large buys of anti-aircraft weapons as it gears up to counter China.

Pentagon Requests Science & Tech Research Boost, But China Remains Ahead // Patrick Tucker: Beijing funds much S&T research outside formal military channels.

Biden Unveils Plans for New Australian-US-UK Submarine // Marcus Weisgerber: The plan also calls for Australia to buy three American-made Virginia-class submarines, with options for two more.

More Is Needed to Deter States That Take American Hostages // Diane Foley and Stephanie Foggett: Foreign governments are illegally detaining more U.S. citizens than are terror groups.

R&D Tops Procurement in Air Force’s 2024 Budget Proposal // Audrey Decker: Meanwhile, the Space Force is requesting $30 billion in 2024, $3.7 billion above last year’s enacted budget.

The Pentagon’s 2024 Budget Proposal, In Short // Marcus Weisgerber: The spending plan includes $315 billion to develop and buy new weapons.

Air Force Abandons New F-35 Engine in Favor of Upgrades // Audrey Decker: If approved by Congress, it’s a win for F-35 engine maker Pratt & Whitney and a blow to General Electric.

Let Us Bulk-Buy Missiles for Fighting China, Pentagon Asks Congress // Marcus Weisgerber: The Defense Department says it wants to use more multi-year munition buys in future years as well.

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 this newsletter, you can do that here. On this day in 1879, Albert Einstein was born in the German city of Ulm.

Join us today around lunchtime for a conversation with the Pentagon’s Chief Technology Officer Bill Streilein and Defense One’s Patrick Tucker. That gets started at 12:05 p.m. ET. Details, registration, and livestream here.
Also today in Washington: Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger will speak to the National Press Club in a livestreamed event scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.
And Space Force’s Gen. B. Chance Saltzman will take questions from the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces a bit later in a hearing slated for 4:45 p.m. ET. Catch that live, here

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin called up Ukraine’s defense minister on Monday ahead of the upcoming Ukraine Contact Defense Group meeting on Wednesday. Kyiv’s Oleksii Reznkiov reportedly briefed Austin on the latest battlefield developments; but there wasn’t much more to glean from the Pentagon’s readout of that conversation.
Ukraine and Russia have a few growing disadvantages in common: Both are believed to be very low on ammunition, and both have lost nearly all of their experienced soldiers to 12 months of war. That’s what allied and Ukrainian officials told the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, reporting Monday and Tuesday. Said one Ukrainian commander to the Post, “The most valuable thing in war is combat experience”; however, “[T]here are only a few soldiers with combat experience. Unfortunately, they are all already dead or wounded.”
One British lawmaker said the war’s next critical phase will span events leading into July and August. “This summer is incredibly important for Ukraine’s military,” Robert Seely said, according to the Journal. “If they cannot make progress by the end of it, the voices in the West either calling for a negotiated settlement, or arguing that we should not be supporting Ukraine at all, will grow.”
Russian leader Putin again doubled down on his invasion, and called it “a task of the survival of Russian statehood” in remarks delivered Tuesday at an airplane factory. He also alleged Ukraine’s supporters thought sanctions would bring down the Russian economy in two to three weeks, but that did not happen in part because “We have increased our economic sovereignty many times over,” the autocratic leader said, according to Reuters.
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