Today's D Brief: Russia attacks Ukraine’s energy; ATACMS for Kyiv?; Manila vows response to Chinese water cannons; New USAF combat wings; And a bit more.

The Russian military launched 99 missiles and drones at Ukraine’s energy infrastructure overnight, with at least 10 different regions under attack, Ukraine’s air force said Friday. The barrage included nearly 60 of the Iranian-made Shahed one-way exploding drones and almost two dozen cruise missiles. 

Targets included two large hydroelectric power plants (Kaniv and Dniester), according to President Volodymir Zelenskyy. “We urge our partners to respond quickly and decisively to Russia's intensified bombing campaign against Ukraine's critical infrastructure,” he wrote on social media Friday. 

“Ukraine urgently requires additional air defense systems and missiles,” Zelenskyy said, highlighting the “need [for] a strong and reliable air shield over Ukraine to protect people not only in our country but also in the rest of Europe and around the world from Russian terror.” 

New: Giving ATACMS to Ukraine is less risky now, says Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. C.Q. Brown. Brown didn’t go so far as to confirm or deny anonymous sources who claim the U.S. has secretly been sending the much sought after long-range missiles since the fall. But previous concerns that they would provoke an escalation from Russia are diminishing, in part, because of Ukraine’s success striking targets in Russia, which is also something the Biden administration worried would spark escalation. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker has the story

And: Giving Taurus missiles to Ukraine is too risky for Germany. Speaking to MAZ on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said “We will do everything to prevent an escalation of the war, meaning a war between Russia and NATO.” He also officially ruled out sending German troops to Ukraine. Earlier this month, a leaked wiretap of German officials suggested the government was carefully considering both options. 

Developing: Russian spies tried to influence European parliament elections in Germany, France, and Belgium from a cell in Prague, Czech security services announced. The Czech government has put two individuals and a pro-Russian media company, the Voice of Europe, on the sanctions list. Via Deník N.

Hey, nerds: There’s a new open-access book of essays on the war in Ukraine from a series of celebrated academics, including Anne Applebaum, Michael Kofman, Kori Schake, Dara Massicot, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Dan Drezner, and more. It’s the work of Hal Brands, the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in Washington. 

It’s called “War in Ukraine: Conflict, Strategy, and the Return of a Fractured World,” and you can read it for free in PDF form over at Project Muse. The ensemble work is broken into three parts—with five essays on the origins of Russia’s invasion; six on the war itself; and six essays on the war’s “global dimensions and implications.”

From the introduction: “We don’t yet know how the war in Ukraine will end. We do know, already, that this war has changed the world,” writes Hal Brands. “This volume is an effort to write history in real time,” he continues. “But if history in real time is hard, it is also essential. How else can policy-makers and analysts make sense of—and react intelligently to—world-shifting events as they occur?” Read on, here

Also this week: Russia says it’s sent warships to the Red Sea, specifically the missile cruiser Varyag and the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov, according to Russian news outlets and picked up by Bloomberg on Thursday. This comes about a week after the U.S. military’s top Middle East commander said that the Houthis were granting Russia and China safe passage into the area. (But they’ve mistakenly hit Russian and Chinese ships in the recent past.)

Weekend reading: 

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Patrick Tucker. 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 1974, the Terracotta Army was discovered in Shaanxi province, China. What do they tell us about life in ancient China? The BBC investigated Thursday, here.

The Philippines says it will soon respond directly to “attacks” by China’s coast guard in disputed waters of the South China Sea. Writing on social media Thursday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed “we will not be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience” after another incident late last week where the Chinese used water cannons to harass a Philippine civilian boat as it was escorted by two Philippine navy ships and two Philippine coastguard vessels. 

Marcos did not specify precisely what response China can expect, but he promised a “proportionate, deliberate and reasonable in the face of the open, unabating, and illegal, coercive, aggressive and dangerous attacks by agents of the China coast guard and Chinese maritime militia.”

Chinese reax: “We have responded with legitimate, resolute and restrained actions,” said a defense ministry spokesman on Thursday, according to Reuters. “The Philippine side should realise that provocations will only do themselves more harm than good, and soliciting foreign support will lead nowhere,” he added. 

U.S. and Philippine officials have been talking a lot lately, and many of the discussions are about the antagonistic behavior of China’s navy, coast guard, and maritime militia of networked fishermen in the Asia–Pacific. Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin rang his Philippine counterpart Wednesday in response to what he described as the Chinese “Coast Guard and maritime militia’s dangerous obstruction of a lawful Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal on March 23.” 

SecDef Austin “emphasized U.S. support for the Philippines in defending its sovereign rights and jurisdiction, and reiterated that the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to both countries'armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft—including those of its Coast Guard—anywhere in the Pacific, to include the South China Sea,” according to the Pentagon’s readout

Just last week, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford visited the region, with stops in Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. Two other Pentagon officials led a delegation visit to Australia, Japan, and the Philippines the week prior. 

And President Biden is welcoming Marcos to the White House on April 11, along with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. “The leaders will also reaffirm the ironclad alliances between the United States and the Philippines, and the United States and Japan,” and Biden will “emphasize [the] U.S. commitment to upholding international law and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the White House said in a preview

Related reading: 

New Air Force combat wings could deploy in two years Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin told Defense One’s Audrey Decker. It’s part of a broader shakeup in the Air Force to make sure air wings train and deploy together as cohesive units, rather than one squadron at a time.

New ICBM flight test delayed two years. The over-budget LGM-35A Sentinel won’t see its first flight test until February 2026. Decker has that one, too, here.  

And the Pentagon is making shared cloud space for contractors. The goal is to improve cybersecurity among defense contractors and they hope to launch a pilot version of the new cloud this year. Already 75 contractors have signed on. Defense One’s Lauren Williams has details.

More than a thousand members of the Army Corps of Engineers are helping clean debris in the waters near Baltimore this week after a cargo ship collided with the Francis Scott Key bridge, triggering its collapse and shutting down the entire city port. The inbound personnel include “more than 1,100 engineering, construction, contracting and operations specialists to provide support to local, state and federal agencies,” officials said this week. 

They’ve brought remotely-operated vehicles to search the water, as well as the debris removal vessel Reynolds

Repairing the bridge could cost at least $400 million and take as little as 18 months, but more likely it’ll cost more and take quite a bit longer than that, experts told the Associated Press, reporting Friday. 

ICYMI: “Two of the most capable military cargo ships in U.S. inventory are among the vessels now stuck” at the blocked port in Baltimore, The War Zone reported this week. That involves the SS Antares and SS Denebola, which are part of the Transportation Department’s Ready Reserve Force. “Though fast and capable,” the vessels’ original owners found them to be “overly expensive to operate and sold all eight examples to the U.S. government in the 1980s,” TWZ writes. 

Both were involved in moving assets during Operation Desert Shield. “The U.S. military subsequently used Algols to support operations in Somalia and the Balkans in the 1990s, as well as the opening phases of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s,” TWZ reports. Read the rest, here

Additional reading: 

And lastly this week: We say goodbye to Louis Gossett Jr., whom at least one of your D Brief-ers first learned about as a kid from the four “Iron Eagle” films Gossett starred in over a nine-year period ending 1995. Others may know him as Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley from the 1982 Richard Gere film, “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Gossett won a supporting actor Academy Award for his role as drill instructor Foley—and made history as the first Black man to win in that category. 

Gossett passed away Friday morning at the age of 87 in Santa Monica, California. His cause of death has not yet been publicly announced. The Associated Press has more on Gossett and his legacy, here.