Today's D Brief: Finland to join NATO; Ukraine, allies train thousands of troops for Kyiv; Russia’s spring conscription begins; CJCS Milley, in conversation; And a bit more.

Finland finally cleared its last major hurdle on the way to joining the NATO alliance. Turkey’s parliament ratified the Nordic nation’s bid to become part of the 30-member alliance on Thursday. Finland’s neighbor, Sweden, also applied to join NATO shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last February; but the parliaments of both Hungary and Turkey have not yet approved Stockholm’s request. 

“As allies, we will give and receive security, [and] we will defend each other,” Helsinki’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a statement Thursday, and noted, “Finland stands with Sweden now and in the future and supports its application.”

“I look forward to raising Finland’s flag at NATO headquarters” following “the fastest ratification process in NATO’s modern history,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement and a video address Friday morning. “Finland has highly capable forces, advanced capabilities, and strong democratic institutions…Together we are stronger and safer,” he added. “I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said. 

For the record: Finland shares a 830-mile border with Russia. And that means with the addition of Helsinki to the alliance, NATO borders with Russia will more than double. 

By the way: Finnish beermaker Olaf Brewing Company just launched a “new full-member GOLD Edition of the OTAN Olutta beer,” which is classified as an IPA; it tastes like “security with a hint of freedom,” says Olaf, whose facilities are located “a few dozen miles from the Russian border,” according to Reuters, reporting back in May. “And the colors of the label, yellowish gold + blue, are a little nod to our dear neighbors in Sweden—we hope you join us as soon as possible!” Olaf tweeted Friday. 

  • Another thing: Finland’s military chief posted a dryly humorous 37-second video marking the historic day; watch that one on Twitter, here

Update: U.S. troops have more than 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers so far, including 65 who have completed training on Patriot air defense systems at Fort Sill, Okla. Those graduates are now “integrating with other Ukrainian air defenders, along with donated Patriot air defense equipment from the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Thursday. Separate training on Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Strykers is set to be completed today in Germany, Ryder said. Another 1,200 Ukrainians are training at Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, which are also in Germany. 

Overall, 26 allied nations are currently training more than 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers across Europe and the U.S., Ryder said Thursday, telling reporters, “We remain committed to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Thursday formally authorized Moscow’s annual spring conscription campaign, which calls for adding 147,000 troops between April 1 and July 15. “The new conscripts will not increase Russian combat power in the short term, as Russian conscripts must undergo months of training and service before they see combat,” analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War wrote in their Thursday evening assessment. 

According to Russian legal code, conscripts cannot deploy to occupied Ukraine, nor are military officials allowed to conscript Ukrainians in occupied territories. Some exceptions have occurred, of course; but “Putin’s use of conscripts during the winter-spring period of 2022 sparked social tensions in Russia, and Putin is unlikely to risk his regime’s stability by deploying newly conscripted servicemen to the frontlines,” ISW reminded us. Russia instead called on its mobilized reservists to help stabilize collapsing frontlines around Kharkiv, e.g., back in the fall. 

What’s next? Russia’s military may choose to coerce last spring’s conscripts into signing military contracts, “since these freshly discharged conscriptions would need less additional training before deploying to Ukraine,” ISW writes, and emphasizes, “It is far from clear how successful such an effort will be.”

Additional reading: 

From Defense One

What’s Next in US Hypersonic Efforts as Air Force Shelves ARRW // Patrick Tucker: The service will focus on a potentially cheap scramjet as research continues in other services.

Treasury Sanctions Arms Dealer Who Attempted to Broker Deals Between North Korea and Russia // Patrick Tucker: A new class of “merchants of death” may be emerging from the Russian war on Ukraine

Why It’s Hard to Double GMLRS Production // Sam Skove: Ukraine could use more of the devastating artillery rockets, but Lockheed says tooling, labor, and supply-chain problems prevent big leaps in production.

F-35s Need More Powerful Engines—But How Much More? // Audrey Decker: The Pentagon says it doesn’t know, and lawmakers have questions.

Nine Soldiers Die On Night Helicopter Training Mission // Sam Skove: No emergency message was received from the two crews before their aircraft crashed, a 101st Airborne leader said.

‘If We Don’t Sell Them Arms, Someone Else Will’ Is a Myth // Elias Yousif: Some of the assumptions that underpin this familiar refrain don’t hold water.

State Department To Give Costa Rica $25M For Cybersecurity // Lauren C. Williams: The aid is a direct request from President Rodrigo Chaves Robles.

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. On this day in 1948, House lawmakers passed the Marshall Aid Act to help rebuild post-war Europe at a cost of more than $6 billion; it has since been known as the Marshall Plan. Three days later, President Harry Truman signed it into law. 

Join us this afternoon for a wide-ranging interview with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley. It’s the final conversation in our State of Defense digital event series, which also included interviews with service chiefs from the Space Force, Marine Corps, and the Air Force.
The interview with Milley will air at 4 p.m.; you’ll need to register to watch. 

Update: Six U.S. troops injured in the March 23 attack in northeastern Syria are all in “stable condition,” and one was medically evacuated to Germany for treatment, Pentagon Spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday. Two of those service members have already returned to duty, Ryder added. An additional six U.S. troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury due to “the Iranian-backed attacks” on March 23 and 24, Ryder said.
The U.S. launched precision air strikes against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force in Syria, “in response to a pattern of Iranian and Iran-backed attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria,” using U.S. Air Force F-15Es, Ryder said. Those U.S. strikes killed eight militants, Ryder said.

Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll be back again on Monday!