Today's D Brief: Missiles barrage Kyiv, again; Congress passes NDAA; Israel eyes ‘long’ Gaza war; F-35 parts shortage; And a bit more.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin says he won’t abandon his Ukraine invasion, and that he thinks Kyiv’s partners are at their limit trying to help. Putin spoke at a year-end event broadcast on state-run TV. Last year’s event was canceled as Russia’s military struggled to advance beyond frontlines in Ukraine’s east and south that largely remain frozen in place today. 

“Ukraine produces almost nothing today, everything is coming from the west; but the free stuff is going to run out someday, and it seems it already is,” Putin said in an apparent reference to Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress. 

There will be peace in Ukraine, Putin said, “only when we achieve our goals…and those goals have not changed.” Those goals still include, as he put again, the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine. What’s more, he asserted falsely, the Ukrainian city of “Odessa is a Russian city and everyone knows that,” he said. (Hat tip to FT’s Max Seddon for the translations.) Russia-watcher Mark Galeotti has more on Putin’s address, writing on social media, here

For the second night in a row, Putin’s military carried out another “massive missile attack” on Ukraine’s capital—with a “launch to attack” time of only 90 seconds, according to Tymofiy Mylovanov of the Kyiv School of Economics. 

“I wonder what comes next. Will Russia continue to attack every day?” Mylovanov wrote on social media. “Will the infrastructure hold off the cyber attacks? Will air defense shoot down all missiles? How many people will die? What will happen at the front? Can Russians break through? Can they attack Kyiv again?”

“I hope the West will overcome its divisions and get serious about this war,” he continued. “I am certain [the] Ukrainian military will defend Ukraine. It is a tough period in our lives but one day it will be over. Everything ends. Unless we surrender. Because then the nightmare is forever.” 

Poland just swore in a new government, which is notably more friendly toward the European Union than the previous eight-year ensemble. Reuters has more from Warsaw. 

Additional reading: 

Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback for the year ahead here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 2012 at about 9:30 in the morning, a 20-year-old male, armed with multiple weapons including an assault rifle, shot his way through the doors of Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School and proceeded to kill 20 children and six staff members in one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.

The Senate passed its compromise defense policy bill in an overwhelming 87-13 vote Wednesday evening. The $886 billion bill raises troops’ pay by 5.2% and drops several measures far-right Republicans sought like restrictions on abortion, transgender care, and diversity/inclusion programs. 

The bill also forbids any American president from withdrawing the U.S. from NATO “without Senate approval or an Act of Congress,” an amendment introduced as a standalone bill earlier this year by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and his Democratic colleague Tim Kaine.

Since President Biden is a solid backer of the Russia-focused alliance, the bill would seem to really be focused on just one man presently: Republican front-runner for the 2024 election former President Donald Trump, who has long disparaged NATO and floated the idea of pulling out. 

The defense bill would also extend the domestic surveillance program known as FISA Section 702 for another 16 months. The eavesdropping law is set to expire at the end of the month, but White House officials have been pleading their case for its extension to lawmakers and news outlets—including Defense One—for the past several months. 

Fine print: Lawmakers drew up a four-month extension of the program into the latest defense policy bill that passed in the Senate Wednesday. But procedural mechanics allow for that provision to have another 12 months of life, as legal analysts from the American Civil Liberties Union Kia Hamadanchy and Ashley Gorski explain today in Defense One. The title of their argument: “Section 702 surveillance doesn’t belong in the NDAA.” 

Breaking: The House just voted 310-118 to advance the NDAA, with 163 Democrats voting with 147 Republicans.

Developing: Israel’s military chief said the war in Gaza will “last more than several months” and “will require a long period of time.” That was the message White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan received when he met with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday. (Sullivan also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Thursday.) 

Also: Israel’s British Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely angrily rejected any two-state solution for the future of Palestinians and Gaza in an interview with Britain’s Sky News on Wednesday. 

And Israel’s spy chief just canceled talks on possible hostage exchanges with Hamas in Qatar, according to Israel’s Channel 13 news. CNN has a bit more, here

New: Nearly half of Israel’s bombs dropped over Gaza were unguided, according to an assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that was shared with CNN on Wednesday. According to the health ministry of Gaza, Israel’s military has killed more than 18,000 people since Hamas first attacked on October 7, killing at least 1,200 Israelis in a horrific surprise assault.

Related reading: 

And lastly: Parts delays are delaying F-35. Shortages of just a few parts are slowing deliveries of the F-35’s latest upgrade, which is on track to cost almost $1 billion more than expected, Pentagon officials told lawmakers. 

Hardware for the Technology Refresh-3 upgrade is not being produced fast enough, F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt said Tuesday during a House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee hearing. Defense One’s Audrey Decker has more, here.