'VICTORY IS NOT HAPPINESS': In a wide-ranging interview in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lamented the late start of the summer counteroffensive, which he blamed on the delay in providing critical weapons systems, and said there will be no "happy end" to the war because of the widespread death and destruction inflicted by the Russian invasion.
"All of us want to have success and a happy end," Zelensky told CNN's Fareed Zakaria, saying that victory will mean an end to Russian occupation but won't bring back the estimated 200,000 Ukrainians killed or grievously wounded in the war. "It's about counteroffensive. It's not a movie with the happy end," he said, speaking English. "We will not have a happy end. We lost a lot of people. No happy end. That we have to recognize it … victory is not happiness."
'WE WAITED TOO LONG': While expressing deep gratitude for support from the U.S. and NATO, Zelensky blamed delays in providing F-16s and longer-range missiles for heavy casualties suffered in the early stages of the counteroffensive, when Ukrainian forces attempted to breach the most heavily mined defenses in the world, without air support against Russia's attack helicopters armed with long-range anti-tank missiles.
"Look, we waited too long. It's true. No, I'm thankful to partners, to the United States, [European Union], other partners. I'm thankful very much to President Biden and to Congress, but we have to understand, we waited too long. … We gave a lot of time for Russians. We gave a lot of time to put the mines on the fields," Zelensky said. "I said before the counteroffensive with our partners that they had to know and to recognize that we don't control the sky, how to control or even to compare with the power of Russia in the sky."
Zelensky said he remains in discussions with President Joe Biden about getting long-range ATACMS, or Army Tactical Missile Systems, by the beginning of autumn so Ukrainian can target supply lines and troop concentrations far behind Russia's multilayered lines of defense.
"What we need [is] long-distance weapons systems, long-distance artillery rounds, systems, etc. Everybody speaks about ATACMS. It's very important," Zelensky said. "I hope and I will speak with President Biden. … I think he can change this page and this war. Once he did it with the HIMARS, [High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems]. It was very important, these HIMARS, so it's about the ATACMS."
MILLEY: '30 TO 45 DAYS OF FIGHTING WEATHER LEFT': In an interview with the BBC over the weekend, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said Ukraine has "achieved partial success" but that it's too early to say how the war is going to end.
Standing beside his British counterpart, Defense Chief Adm. Tony Radakin, near Milley's Fort Myer residence, offered a sober assessment of Ukraine's prospects for achieving its goal of splitting Russian forces in two in the south. "There's still a reasonable amount of time, probably about 30 to 45 days worth of fighting weather left, so the Ukrainians aren't done. This battle is not done."
"The weather folks are telling us that you're looking at something in the probably the beginning of October before the rains come and it won't be the winter — it'll be the rains that make the ground soft and make it unacceptable for ground maneuver," Milley said in a separate interview that air on CBS Sunday Morning, in which he noted the daunting task ahead for Ukraine to liberate all of the Russian-occupied territory.
"That area's not a small area. That area, roughly speaking, is about the eastern theater of war in the American Civil War that goes from basically Washington, D.C., to Atlanta, and that is a very large piece of ground, so they've got a tough fight. It's not over," Milley said. "Neither side at this point in time have achieved their political objectives through military means, and the war will continue until one side of the other has achieved those means or both sides have determined it's time to go to a negotiating table and they can't leave their objectives through military means, and that time is not yet here."
Radakin was more upbeat in his assessment. "Ukraine is winning and Russia is losing, and Ukraine is winning because the aim of Russia was to subjugate Ukraine and to put it under Russia's control and that has not happened and it never will happen," he said. "Ukraine is making progress in its battle to regain its territory. It's recovered 50% of the ground that Russia seized."
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 Conrad Hoyt. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues atDailyonDefense.com. If signing up doesn't work, shoot us an email and we'll add you to our list. And be sure to follow me on Threads and/or on X @jamiejmcintyre
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HAPPENING TODAY: On this 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, commemorative ceremonies will be held in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The day of remembrance began this morning before dawn at the Pentagon, where a giant American flag was unfurled from the roof of the southwest side of the Pentagon, as was done the morning after the 2001 attack.
In New York, where the hijacked planes first hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center, ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, where families of victims will read aloud the names of the 2,983 men, women, and children killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as well as the Feb. 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center.
At 9 a.m., family members of the 184 people lost in the terrorist attack at the Pentagon will hear from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.
And at 9:45 a.m., the National Park Service hosts the Flight 93 National Memorial Ceremony in Shanksville. Stephen Clark, superintendent of the Flight 93 National Memorial, will deliver welcoming remarks, and Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, will participate in a public wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial Plaza near the Wall of Names, recognizing the 53 passengers and crew on the plane that crashed when brave passengers stormed the cockpit to battle the terrorists.
President Joe Biden, who is returning from the G20 Summit in India and a visit to Vietnam, will mark the anniversary with remarks to service members, first responders, and their families at 4:45 p.m. Eastern time in a stopover at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.
US AND VIETNAM NOW 'STRATEGIC PARTNERS': In Hanoi today, Biden and Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, announced an agreement elevating the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam to a "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership," which was hailed in a joint statement as "a historic new phase of bilateral cooperation and friendship" between the two former foes. The relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam is now on par with the relations Hanoi has with Russia and China, the highest level in Vietnam's diplomatic hierarchy.
"Today, we can trace a 50-year arc of progress in the relationship between our nations from conflict to normalization," Biden said in a news conference. "This is a new elevated status that will be a force for prosperity and security in one of the most consequential regions in the world."
While Biden said the new relationship was not about countering China, the statement mentioned "unwavering support for the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, without the threat or use of force, as well as freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea."
"I don't want to contain China. I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up. … We have an opportunity to strengthen alliances around the world to maintain stability," Biden said. "It's not about isolating China. It's about making sure the rules of the road, everything from airspace and space and in the ocean, the international rules of the road are abided by."
KIM EN ROUTE TO PUTIN MEETING? South Korean media are reporting that Kim Jong Un's special armored train appears to have left for Vladivostok and an expected meeting between the North Korean leader and President Vladimir Putin as Russia seeks arms and artillery ammunition to replenish its depleted stocks.
"The intelligence authorities believe the train presumed to be carrying Kim Jong Un is moving to Vladivostok," a South Korean government official told Yonhap News Agency today.
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that the train likely departed the North Korean capital of Pyongyang Sunday evening and that a Kim-Putin meeting was possible as early as tomorrow.
HALEY: 'PUTIN AT ROCK BOTTOM': Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said the meeting between Kim and Putin, in which Putin has been reduced to begging for military assistance from North Korea, shows that he's "at rock bottom."
"We know that because he's getting drones from Iran and missiles from North Korea. We know that because they have raised the draft age in Russia to 65. Finish this," Haley said on CNN Sunday, noting that as the House comes back into session, the fate of future funding for Ukraine is uncertain.
"Republicans and Democrats should not pull an Afghanistan. Don't go pulling out now," she said. "We don't want a further war. And the only way we can do that is to have Ukraine win. And there's no one that wants the Ukrainians to win more than the Taiwanese because they know that if Ukraine wins, China will stay away from Taiwan."
And so, yes, I think Republicans and Democrats need to keep their eye on the ball. And that is, let's finish this mission in Ukraine, and then we will handle Russia and China by just doing that."
MUSK'S STARLINK DILEMMA: Over the weekend, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sought to clarify his role in denying Ukraine access to his Starlink satellite internet service, effectively thwarting a planned attack on the Russian fleet docked at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol last September.
In his new biography of Musk, Walter Isaacson wrote that Musk "secretly told his engineers to turn off coverage within 100 kilometers of the Crimean coast. As a result, when the Ukrainian drone subs got near the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, they lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly."
Late Friday, Isaacson posted a correction on Musk's X, formerly known as Twitter. "To clarify on the Starlink issue: the Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not. They asked Musk to enable it for their drone sub attack on the Russian fleet. Musk did not enable it, because he thought, probably correctly, that would cause a major war."
Musk subsequently posted a thank you to Isaacson and indicated he believed he was off the hook. "The onus is meaningfully different if I refused to act upon a request from Ukraine vs. made a deliberate change to Starlink to thwart Ukraine. At no point did I or anyone at SpaceX promise coverage over Crimea," Musk said. "Moreover, our terms of service clearly prohibit Starlink for offensive military action, as we are a civilian system, so they were again asking for something that was expressly prohibited."
MUSK'S OMISSION BIAS: Musk was clearly uncomfortable with his Starlink system being used as an instrument of war, but at the same time, according to Isaacson, he "liked to imagine himself as a hero rushing to the rescue, engaged in epic quests."
In the beginning of the war, SpaceX rushed 2,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine, which were critical for humanitarian relief and military operations. But Musk drew the line at Crimea, which although Ukrainian territory has been illegally occupied by Russia since 2014.
In his book, Isaacson recounts an encrypted text exchange between Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov and Musk, in which Fedorov pushed for Starlink service to be extended to Russian-controlled regions in the south and east.
"Russia will stop at nothing, nothing, to hold Crimea. This poses catastrophic risk to the world. … Seek peace while you have the upper hand," Musk tells Fedorov. Later, Musk confessed to Isaacson he is frustrated by the situation. "How am I in this war?" he asks Isaaacson during a late-night phone conversation. "Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes."
Musk's distinction between actively switching off Starlink, as opposed to passively not activating it, is an example of what behavioral scientists call "omission bias," the idea that not doing something that results in a bad outcome is somehow better than doing something that results in the same outcome.
As Zelensky said in his CNN interview, there is no neutral position. "You support Ukraine or you support Russia. There is no other variance, really."
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MONDAY | SEPTEMBER 11
9 a.m. 9/11 Pentagon Memorial — Annual 9/11 Observance Ceremony for families and invited guests. To accommodate the event, the memorial will be closed to the public on Sept. 10 and will reopen at 2 p.m. Sept. 11 https://www.pentagonmemorial.org
9:15 a.m. 165 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland — Air and Space Forces Association Air, Space & Cyber Conference, with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall; Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.; and Gen. Duke Richardson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command https://2023asc.expotracker.net/index.aspx
1 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion: "U.S.-South Korea Bilateral Dialogue for the Next 70 Years of the U.S.-ROK Alliance," with former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens, president and CEO of the Korea Economic Institute of America; former South Korea Ambassador to Japan Kak-Soo Shin, senior adviser at Shin & Kim; retired Gen. Vincent Brooks, former U.S. Forces Korea Commander and director of the Gary Sinise Foundation; and Hyun-Wook Kim, director-general of American studies at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy https://www.csis.org/events/us-rok-bilateral-dialogue-next-70-years-us-rok-alliance
3 p.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: "The state of terrorism around the world," with Vera Mironova, research fellow at Harvard University's Davis Center; Tricia Bacon, associate professor at American University; Jonathan Schroden, director of the Center for Naval Analyses's Countering Threats and Challenges Program; Bruce Hoffman, senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies https://www.brookings.edu/events/the-state-of-terrorism-around-the-world/
TUESDAY | SEPTEMBER 12
7 a.m. 2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church, Virginia — ExecutiveBiz Trusted AI and Autonomy Forum, with Kimberly Sablon, principal director for trusted AI and autonomy at the Defense Department; Ted Maliga, chief technology officer of the U.S. Secret Service; and Landon Van Dyke, chief technology officer and technology senior adviser at the State Department https://events.executivebiz.com/events/register
8:25 a.m. 165 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland — Air and Space Forces Association Air, Space & Cyber Conference, with Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations; William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command; Thomas Bussiere, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command; and Chief Master Sgt. of the Space ForceRoger Towbermanhttps://2023asc.expotracker.net/index.aspx
8:30 a.m. 58 E 68th St., New York, New York — House Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party field hearing: "Systemic Risk: The Chinese Communist Party's Threat to U.S. Financial Stability," with testimony from Jay Clayton, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Jim Chanos, president and founder of Kynikos Associates; and Anne Stevenson-Yang, founder of J Capital Research https://selectcommitteeontheccp.house.gov
9 a.m. — Intelligence and National Security Alliance virtual discussion: "Strategic competition with China," with David Frederick, assistant deputy director of the National Security Agency's China Strategy Center; and Bishop Garrison, INSA vice president for policy https://www.insaonline.org/detail-pages
9 a.m. — Middle East Institute virtual discussion: "Defense and Deterrence on NATO's Front Line: The Cases of Romania and Poland," with Eoin Power, research fellow at the MEI Black Sea Program; Yekaterina Klepanchuk, research fellow at the MEI Black Sea Program; and Iulia-Sabina Joja, director of the MEI Black Sea Program https://www.mei.edu/events/defense-and-deterrence-natos-front-line
9:15 a.m. 9/11 Memorial & Museum, New York, New York — House Homeland Security Emergency Management and Technology Subcommittee field hearing: "Evolving Threats: Security and Safety in a Post-9/11 World" https://www.youtube.com/channel
10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: "Army Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Strategy: Defining a New Course," with OSINT Defense Intelligence Senior Leader Dennis Eger; and Shawn Nilius, director of the Army OSINT Office https://www.csis.org/events/army-osint-defining-new-course
1 p.m. — Stimson Center virtual discussion:: "U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan," with Tom West, U.S. special representative and deputy assistant secretary of state for Afghanistan; Elizabeth Threlkeld, senior fellow and director, South Asia Program, Stimson Center; and Brian Finlay, president and CEO, Stimson Center https://www.stimson.org/event/us-policy-toward-afghanistan
1 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual and in-person discussion:: "Next War Online: Using Cyber Games to Understand Emerging Threats," with Ben Jensen, CSIS senior fellow for gaming, future war, and strategy; Lt. Col.William Chesarek, senior program manager, General Dynamics Information Technology; John Foti, public-private partnership wargame and exercise lead, Booz Allen Hamilton; Nina Kollars, associate professor, Cyber and Innovation Policy Institute, U.S. Naval War College; Jacquelyn Schneider, director, Wargaming and Crisis Simulation Initiative, Hoover Institution; Yasir Atalan, graduate fellow, Center for Data Science, American University; and Emily Harding, deputy director and senior fellow, CSIS International Security Program https://www.csis.org/events/next-war-online-using-cyber-games
4:30 p.m. — Government Executive Media Group discussion: "Propelling Innovation: How the Air and Space Forces Are Embracing New Tech," with Luke Walter, division chief at the Air Force AFWERX Insight Division; Daniel Ateya, managing director of RTX Ventures; Christian Brose, chief strategy officer at Anduril Industries; and Marcus Weisgerber, global business editor at Defense Onehttps://events.defenseone.com/cocktails-and-conversation-air-space-cyber
WEDNESDAY | SEPTEMBER 13
TBA 325 Russell — Senate hosts first "Artificial Intelligence Insight Forum," with Elon Musk, CEO of X and Tesla; Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft; Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI; Rumman Chowdhury, CEO of Humane Intelligence; Clement Delangue, CEO of Hugging Face; Eric Fanning, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association; Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology; Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia; Alex Karp, co-founder and CEO of Palantir; Arvind Krishna, CEO of IBM; Janet Murguia, president of UnidosUS; Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google; Deborah Raji, researcher at the University of California, Berkeley; Charles Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association; Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google; Elizabeth Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO; Meredith Stiehm, president of the Writers Guild of America West; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; Maya Wiley, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights; and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta. RSVP: Gracie Kanigher, firstname.lastname@example.org
8:15 a.m. 165 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland — Air and Space Forces Association Air, Space & Cyber Conference, with Chief Master Sgt. of the Air ForceJoAnne Bass; and Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff https://2023asc.expotracker.net/index.aspx
9 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual discussion on a new report: "Strengthening the Shield: Japan's Defense Transformation and the U.S.-Japan Alliance," with Zack Cooper, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; JimboKen, managing director of the International House of Japan; Yuki Tatsumi, director of the Stimson Center's Japan Program; Jacob Stokes, senior fellow at the CNAS's Indo-Pacific Security Program; and Joshua Fitt, associate fellow at the CNAS's Indo-Pacific Security Program https://www.cnas.org/events/virtual-launch-event
10 a.m. — Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Brzezinski Lecture Series event, with Secretary of State Antony Blinkenhttp://www.sais-jhu.edu
10 a.m. 2128 Rayburn — House Financial Services Committee hearing: "Oversight of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. and Other Efforts to Strengthen National Security in the U.S." http://financialservices.house.gov
12:30 p.m. — Atlantic Council discussion: "Three years on: The regional impact and future of the Abraham Accords," with Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL); Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN); Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC); Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC); Bahrain Ambassador to the U.S. Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah al Khalifa; National Security Council Senior Director for the Middle East Army Lt. Gen. Terry Wolff; and David Makovsky, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Koret Project on Arab-Israel Relations https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/the-regional-impact-and-future-of-the-abraham-accords
1:30 p.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual discussion: "Cyber Resiliency: Discussing the 2023 DOD Cyber Strategy," with John Plumb, assistant defense secretary for space policy; Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant defense secretary for cyber policy; and Richard Fontaine, CEO of CNAS https://www.cnas.org/events/virtual-event-cyber-resiliency
2:30 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies discussion: "Scenarios for Post-Putin Russia," with Sergey Aleksashenko, member of the Anti-War Committee of Russia; Vladislav Inozemtsev, special adviser at the Middle East Media Research Institute; Denis Bilunov, researcher at the Charles University in Prague; and Irina Olimpieva, founder and executive director of the Center for Independent Social Research in the USA https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/scenarios-post-putin-russia
10 a.m. HVC-210, U.S. Capitol — House Foreign Affairs Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia Subcommittee hearing: "Iran's Escalating Threats: Assessing U.S. Policy Toward Iran's Malign Activities," with testimony from Norman Roule, former national intelligence manager for Iran; Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Masih Alinejad, author and activist; and Suzanne Maloney, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution http://foreignaffairs.house.gov
1 p.m. — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace virtual discussion: "The Ukrainian Counter-Offensive: Implications for U.S. Policy," with Dara Massicot, senior fellow at the CEIP Russia and Eurasia Program; Michael Kofman, senior fellow at the CEIP Russia and Eurasia Program; and Aaron David Miller, CEIP senior fellow https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/09/14/carnegie-connects
1:30 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion: "Integration of the U.S. Missile Defense Enterprise," with William Greenwalt, nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and Roger Kodat, senior project director of the National Academy of Public Administration https://www.csis.org/events/integration-us-missile-defense-enterprise
9:30 a.m. 2401 M St., NW — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Defense Writers Group conversation with Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy. RSVP: Thom Shanker email@example.com
11 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual fireside chat of CNAS report: "'Production is Deterrence': Investing in Precision-Guided Munitions to Meet Peer Challengers," with William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; and moderator Stacie Pettyjohn, senior fellow and director of the CNAS Defense Program https://www.cnas.org/events/virtual-fireside-chat-the-honorable-dr-william-laplante
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"How am I in this war? … Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes."
Elon Musk in a late-night phone conversation with biographer Walter Isaacson, as recounted in his latest book, Elon Musk