TERROR BY MISSILE: As the war in Ukraine stretches into its second month, Russia appears to be pausing its unsuccessful siege of Kyiv and has shifted its strategy to one of punishing missile strikes along with a renewed effort to cut off Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbas region.
On Friday, First Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Sergei Rudsko declared the “first stage of the operation” had been completed, enabling Russian forces to move on to the “main goal” of taking full control of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east.
Today, Russian missiles struck a number of cities across Ukraine that up to now had been largely untouched by the war.
‘YOU CAN'T BELIEVE ANYTHING THEY SAY’: The pullback from Kyiv was largely seen as a tacit admission that Vladimir Putin’s goal of capturing Kyiv and deposing President Volodymyr Zelensky had failed, or at least stalled. And the declaration of “victory” in the north was was a face-saving propaganda ploy.
“The Russian General Staff is attempting to adjust the war’s narrative to make it appear that Russia is achieving its aims and choosing to restrict operations when in fact it is not achieving its objectives and is being forced to abandon large-scale offensive operations because of its own failures and losses as well as continuing skillful Ukrainian resistance,” said an analysis by the Institute for the Study of War.
“Look, they're losing this war,” said Idaho Sen. James Risch, the top Republican on Foreign Relations Committee, on CNN. “You just keep pounding, trying to pound a square peg in a round hole, and it doesn't work. And that's what they have been trying to do day after day. It's not working.”
But Risch is skeptical about whether the Russians are actually giving up on taking Kyiv. “I think the jury's out on that. You can't believe anything they say,” he said. “So I don't put any stock in the fact that they're announcing that they're changing the policy.”
“This is Putin trying to relabel the narrative, because he's failing in so many places,” said former Supreme Allied Commander retired Gen. Philip Breedlove on MSNBC. “He's trying to relabel the narrative and declare, sort of, quote-unquote ‘victory’ on this fictitious phase piece, and now focus somewhere else.”
“But, on the other side, if he truly is shifting to the southeast, then I think we, as the Western world, need to look at what we need to do for Ukraine to better enable them in the south and the east.”
ZELENSKY READY TO ACCEPT ‘NON-NUCLEAR NEUTRAL’ UKRAINE: With the next round of negotiation set for Istanbul, Turkey, tomorrow, Zelensky has laid out what is and is not negotiable.
“We are looking for peace,” Zelensky said in an overnight video address posted on Facebook. “Our priorities in the negotiations are known. Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt. Effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory. Our goal is obvious — peace and the restoration of normal life in our native state as soon as possible.”
In an interview with independent Russian media outlets, which was banned in Russia, Zelensky said the question of neutrality and giving up any plan to join NATO should be subject to a referendum by the Ukrainian people only after Russian troops withdraw.
Good Monday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at DailyonDefense.com. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.
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HAPPENING TODAY: It’s budget day in Washington. Usually rolled out the first week in February, Biden’s proposed fiscal year 2023 federal budget, including his proposed level of Pentagon spending, will be released this afternoon.
Biden will make remarks at 2:45 p.m. at the White House, where he will claim his proposed budget would reduce the deficit by more than $1.3 trillion this year, the largest one-year reduction in the deficit in U.S. history.
Biden will be followed at 3:30 p.m. by Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget; Cecilia Rouse, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers; and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Speculation is that the Pentagon’s budget will top $770 billion and that total defense spending, including Department of Energy nuclear programs, could push the total to more than $800 billion.
‘AN UNFORCED ERROR’: Biden’s unscripted coda to his Warsaw speech on Ukraine is now widely seen as a gaffe, something that, while may be true, is better left unsaid.
As he was wrapping up what was a powerful speech in which he said, “A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase a people's love for liberty. Brutality will never grind down their will to be free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia,” Biden, caught up in the moment, ad-libbed one more line. “For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power,” he said of Putin.
The White House, State Department, and Biden himself walked back the statement, which implied the U.S. was advocating a policy of regime change, but the damage was done. European allies such as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz distanced themselves from Biden’s unscripted comment, fearing it would close the door to diplomacy with Russia.
“His comment that Putin had to go was an unforced error,” said Michael Morell, former acting and deputy director of the CIA, on CBS. “It strengthens Putin at home, makes it difficult for any domestic opposition to coalesce together. No Russian citizen, none, wants to be told by the leader of Russia's main enemy about what their leadership can look like and not.”
“We should frame this narrowly, Russia out of Ukraine, and impose so much pain on this man that he never thinks about doing this again,” Morrell said.
“Whoever wrote that speech did a good job for him. But, my gosh, I wish they would keep him on script,” said Sen. James Risch on CNN. “Any time you say or even, as he did, suggest that the policy was regime change, it's going to cause a huge problem. This administration has done everything they can to stop escalating. There's not a whole lot more you can do to escalate than to call for regime change.”
ZELENSKY: SEND MORE WEAPONS: Ukraine’s president continues to be frustrated by limits on the kinds of weapons the West is willing to supply to his forces.
“I’ve talked to the defenders of Mariupol today,” Zelensky said in a video address. “Their determination, heroism, and firmness are astonishing,” he said. “If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage.”
“We have spoken with President Zelensky many times in recent weeks,” said Julianne Smith, the U.S. permanent representative to the U.N., on CNN. “We have heard their requests for assistance. In many cases, we have delivered those anti-aircraft, anti-armor capabilities. We are assessing their air defense needs.”
“The United States, since January of last year, has already provided $2 billion worth of lethal assistance to Ukraine,” she said.
Washington Examiner: Confused call for Putin to lose power mars Biden's bid to show improvement since Afghanistan debacle
Washington Examiner: White House launches damage control over Biden's Putin in power remarks
Washington Examiner: Blinken continues cleanup of Biden’s Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ remark
Washington Examiner: Russia shifts attention to Donbas after fierce Kyiv resistance: Pentagon
Washington Examiner: Russia captures land connecting Crimea to Donetsk region: Ukrainian military
Washington Examiner: Families of Americans held by Putin plead for help 'before it’s too late'
Washington Examiner: Biden calls on Russian people to stand against Putin to stop the war
Washington Examiner: Biden slams 'butcher' Putin while meeting with Ukrainian refugees
Washington Examiner: Biden meets troops and humanitarian workers in shadow of Russia's war on Ukraine
Washington Examiner: Ukraine to investigate after video shows alleged Russian POWs being shot: Zelensky aide
Washington Examiner: Ukraine may have captured an important piece of Russian military technology
Washington Examiner: Young refugees protest NATO's response to Ukraine
Washington Examiner: Inside a volunteer effort to help Ukraine war refugees in Poland
Washington Examiner: Marines update dress guidelines and allow for longer hair
Washington Post: Supreme Court won’t stop Biden administration from deployment decisions involving unvaccinated Navy SEALs
Washington Post: Russian troops’ tendency to talk on unsecured lines is proving costly
Washington Post: Russia’s Failures In Ukraine Imbue Pentagon With Newfound Confidence
Wall Street Journal: Biden’s Remark on Putin Stirs Anxiety Among Western Allies
New York Times: Mariupol Teetering Amid Signs Russia Is Shifting Focus
New York Times: Kremlin Purges Reporters’ Talk With Zelensky
Air Force Magazine: Arctic Hasn’t Gotten Enough in Past Pentagon Budgets, VanHerck Says. Will That Change in 2023?
Air Force Magazine: Air Force Stands Up New Information Warfare Training Unit
USNI News: Satellite Images Confirm Russian Navy Landing Ship Was Sunk at Berdyansk
19fortyfive.com: Why Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Was a Colossal Failure
19fortyfive.com: See Why Ukraine’s Tank-Busting Stugna-P Missiles are Proving So Effective
Washington Post: Opinion: James Stavridis: Putin Isn’t Crazy Enough to Use Nukes. Or Is He?
Forbes: Opinion: HII Evolving Into A Data-Driven Tech Enterprise As Navy Customer Embraces New Warfighting Concepts
10 a.m. — Middle East Institute virtual discussion with Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Central Command Naval Forces, on "present and future challenges and opportunities facing U.S. maritime goals and plans in the region.” https://www.mei.edu/events/mei-defense-leadership-series
11 a.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion: “The current political dynamic in Belarus and Russia's invasion of Ukraine,” wth Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live
12 p.m. — Institute for Policy Studies virtual discussion: “How Do We Support Diplomacy in Ukraine?" with John Feffer, director of the IPS Foreign Policy in Focus Project; Phyllis Bennis, director of the IPS New Internationalism Project; and Khury Petersen-Smith, Middle East fellow at IPS https://ips-dc.org/events/how-do-we-support-diplomacy-in-ukraine/
12 p.m. — Foreign Policy webinar: ‘Women in War," focusing on the war in Ukraine, traditional gender roles and why women pay such a high price during crises, with Roya Rahmani, former Afghan ambassador to the United States and senior adviser at the Atlantic Council; and Xanthe Scharff, CEO and co-founder of the Fuller Project https://foreignpolicy.com/live/
12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: “Freedom Over Tyranny," focusing on the situation in Ukraine, with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa https://www.hudson.org/events
12:30 p.m. — American Physical Society's Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction online discussion: “The Nuclear Dimensions of the War in Ukraine," with Pavel Podvig of the Russian Nuclear Forces Project and United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research; Alex Glaser, of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security; Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association; and Laura Grego of MIT's Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy and Union of Concerned Scientists' Global Security Program https://apsphysics.zoom.us/webinar/register
1 p.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Global Europe Program: “The European Union, U.S. and NATO: Partners for Global Security," with European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/eu-us-and-nato
1 p.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion on Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and additional steps to boost Ukraine, with House Intelligence ranking member Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live
TUESDAY | MARCH 29
8:30 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion with Baltic presidents on "the implications of the Russian-initiated war in Ukraine on European security and NATO's adaptation," Estonia President Alar Karis; Latvian President Egils Levits; and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/a-conversation-with-the-baltic-presidents
9 a.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. N.E. — Heritage Foundation discussion on "Putin's War and the Threat from Communist China," with Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. https://www.heritage.org/asia/event/putins-war
9:30 a.m. G-50 Dirksen — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: “The posture of U.S. European Command and U.S. Transportation Command,” with Gen. Tod Wolters, commander, U.S. European Command and supreme allied commander Europe; and Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander, U.S. Transportation Command https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings
10 a.m. 210 Cannon — House Budget Committee hearing: “President Biden's FY2023 Budget,” with testimony Shalanda Young, acting director Office of Management and Budget https://www.youtube.com/watch
10 a.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies virtual discussion: “Confronting Russian Cyber Censorship," with Andrei Soldatov, co-founder and editor of Agentura.ru; Olga Irisova, editor-in-chief at Riddle; Alena Epifanova, research fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations; and Sergey Parkhomenko, senior adviser and journalist at Echo of Moscow Radio https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event
10:30 a.m. — “Institute of World Politics virtual discussion: “Russia's War on Ukraine," with David Satter, former Moscow correspondent at the Financial Times of London https://www.iwp.edu/events/webinar-russias-war-on-ukraine/
11 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: :”Russia's Crackdown on Independent Media and Access to Information Online," with Daniel Baer, acting director at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace' Europe Program; and Maria Snegovaya, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security https://www.csis.org/events/russias-crackdown-independent-media
2 p.m. 2172 Rayburn — Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing on "Putin's War on Truth: Propaganda and Censorship in Russia," with Fatima Tlis, journalist at Voice of America; Peter Pomerantsev, senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University's Agora Institute; Vladimir Kara-Murza, former host at Echo of Moscow radio; and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., commission chairman
3 p.m. — Washington Post Live online discussion with the European Union's Ambassador to the United States Stavros Lambrinidis, https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live/
3:30 p.m. 418 Russell — Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing: “Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2021," with http://veterans.senate.gov
WEDNESDAY | MARCH 30
8:45 a.m. 137 National Plaza — DSI Group Information Warfare Symposium with John Costello, chief of staff at the White House Office of the National Cyber Director; and Rear Adm. Jeffrey Scheidt, senior military advisor for cyber policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense https://informationwarfare.dsigroup.org/
9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “The North Korean Missile Threat," with Markus Garlauskas, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Center for Strategy and Security; and Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Nuclear Policy Program https://www.csis.org/events/north-korean-missile-threat
10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Committee hearing: “National Security Challenges in Europe,” with testimony from Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, commander, U.S. European Command and supreme allied commander Europe. https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
10 a.m. — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace online event: Carnegie Connects: A Conversation on the War in Ukraine," with CNN's senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward http://carnegieendowment.org
10:30 a.m. — House Appropriations Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing: "Military Privatized Family Housing Oversight," with http://appropriations.house.gov
11 a.m. 608 Dirksen — Senate Budget Committee hearing: "The President's FY2023 Budget Proposal,” with testimony Shalanda Young, acting director Office of Management and Budget http://budget.senate.gov
12 p.m. — Association of the U.S. Army book webinar: Three Dangerous Men: Russia, China, Iran, and the Rise of Irregular Warfare, with book author Seth Jones https://info.ausa.org/e/784783/oon-Report
1 p.m. — The Hill virtual summit: “Future of Defense," with House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.; House Armed Services ranking member Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; Deborah Rosenblum, assistant Defense secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs; Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro; Army Secretary Christine Wormuth; former Defense Secretary Robert Gates; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; former Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky; Wesley Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles and Defense; and Steve Clemons, editor-at-large of The Hill https://thehill.com/event/598442-future-of-defense-summit
1 p.m. — Air Force Association virtual conversation: "Air and Space Warfighters in Action" with Lt. Gen. David Nahom, Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and programs; Lt. Gen. William Liquori, deputy chief of space operations, strategy, plans, programs, requirements, and analysis; and retired Lt. Gen. Bruce "Orville" Wright, AFA president https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register
2 p.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing: “Patient Safety and Quality of Care in the Military Health System,” with testimony from: Dez Del Barba, U.S. Army Veteran; Derrick Luckey, father of Seaman Danyelle Luckey; Sharon Silas, director, GAO Health Care Team; Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director, Defense Health Agency; Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, Army surgeon general; Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Navy surgeon general; and Lt. Gen. Robert I. Miller, Air Force surgeon general https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
4:30 p.m. — Institute of World Politics virtual discussion: “North Korea: The Continuous and Growing Threat," with John Sano, former deputy director of the CIA's Directorate of Operations https://www.eventbrite.com/e/north-korea
THURSDAY | MARCH 31
10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces hearing: “Updates on Modernization of Conventional Ammunition Production,” with testimony from Douglas Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology; Army Gen. Edward Daly, commanding general, Army Materiel Command; Army Brig. Gen. William Boruff, program executive officer, Joint Program Executive Office, Armaments and Ammunition; Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Gardner, commanding general, Joint Munitions Command; Jason Gaines, senior vice president and general manager, munition systems, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems; retired Army Brig. Gen. John McGuiness, president, American Ordnance, LLC; Brian Gathright, vice president and general manager, BAE Systems Ordnance Systems Inc; and Brett Flaugher, president, Olin-Winchester https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
2 p.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Subcommittees on Seapower and Projection Forces and Readiness Joint hearing: “Posture and Readiness of the Mobility Enterprise,” with testimony from Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, commander, U.S. Transportation Command; and Lucinda Lessley, acting administrator, Maritime Administration https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
2 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Implications for Cybersecurity in Western-Chinese Technology Decoupling," with former U.S. Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair; and Arthur Coviello, former president and CEO of RSA Security https://www.csis.org/events/report-launch
10 a.m. — House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on "Helping Veterans Thrive: The Importance of Peer Support in Preventing Domestic Violent Extremism," with https://www.youtube.com/channel
7 p.m. — Henry L. Stimson Center virtual discussion: “North Korea's 'Checkerboard' Threat: Obstacles and Opportunities for the U.S.-Republic of Korea Alliance," with retired Gen. Vincent Brooks, chairman of the Korea Defense Veterans Association; retired South Korea Gen. Ho-Young Leem, ROK vice chairman at KDVA; former ROK Army Lt. Gen. In-Bum Chun; Clint Work, fellow at 38 North; Natalia Slavney, research associate at 38 North; and Jenny Town, director at 38 North https://www.stimson.org/event/north-koreas-checkerboard-threat
FRIDAY | APRIL 1
9 a.m. — Middle East Institute virtual discussion: “Russia's Invasion of Ukraine and Implications for Black Sea Security," with former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove, chair at the Frontier Europe Initiative; Iulia Joja, director at the Frontier Europe Initiative; Mamuka Tsereteli, nonresident scholar at the Frontier Europe Initiative; and Gonul Tol, director of the MEI Turkey Program https://www.mei.edu/events/russias-invasion-ukraine
10 a.m. — American Security Project virtual discussion: :A View From Kyiv," with former Ukrainian Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture Minister Tymofiy Mylovanov, president of the Kyiv School of Economics https://www.americansecurityproject.org/event
10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Subcommittees on Intelligence and Special Operations hearing: “FY23 hearing to Review Department of Defense Strategy, Policy, and Programs for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction,” with testimony from John Plumb, assistant secretary for space policy; Deborah Rosenblum, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs; Vice Adm. Collin Patrick Green, deputy commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; Rhys Williams, acting director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings
10:30 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion, 10:30 a.m., on "Protecting the global marine transportation system against cyber threats,” sith Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; and Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/protecting-the-global-marine-transportation-system
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Look, we began this war by overestimating the Russians. We shouldn't underestimate them now."
David Martin, CBS News national security correspondent, on Face the Nation Sunday