Daily on Defense: Ukraine aid watch, Sweden on verge of NATO approval, Zelensky says JD Vance doesn't get it, US and UK strike Houthi targets again

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FINGER-POINTING AS TALKS STALL AGAIN: With just five days left before a partial government shutdown, a breakdown in House-Senate negotiations once again imperils desperately needed aid for Ukraine and continues to hamstring the Pentagon's military construction budget. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had hoped to announce a deal last night on four appropriations bills that account for 20% of government spending, but no deal was reached, with each side accusing the other of playing politics.

"While we had hoped to have legislation ready this weekend that would give ample time for members to review the text, it is clear now that House Republicans need more time to sort themselves out," Schumer said in a letter to colleagues. "Unfortunately, extreme House Republicans have shown they're more capable of causing chaos than passing legislation."

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Republicans continue to argue that the border crisis must be addressed before aid to Ukraine or funding the basic functions of government can be addressed. "This is not a time for petty politics," Johnson said in response to Schumer's letter. "House Republicans will continue to work in good faith and hope to reach an outcome as soon as possible, even as we continue to insist that our own border security must be addressed immediately."

"​​I’m willing to fund the government as long as our border is secure. The first job of the government is to secure the border. Any business that provides a service, if they don’t give you the service, do you give them money?" said Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), one of a number of Republicans to threaten a government shutdown March 1. "I will not be voting for any funding if the border is not secured."


BIDEN SUMMONS 'BIG FOUR': President Joe Biden has called another White House session for tomorrow with Schumer and Johnson as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to press for funding both the government and crucial aid to Ukraine.

Schumer, who just returned from leading a congressional delegation to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, said Ukraine's battlefield situation is increasingly dire. "We visited a cemetery where brave Ukrainian men and women have been buried and where others will inevitably lie if Ukraine doesn't get the aid they need," Schumer said. "We were told in no uncertain terms that if more weaponry had been available in Avdiivka, the outcome would have been different."

"President Zelensky once again did not mince words: Without the assistance from the United States that the Senate passed in the national security supplemental, Putin will win," Schumer said.

"There is a strong bipartisan majority in the House standing ready to pass this bill if it comes to the floor. And that decision rests on the shoulders of one person," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN. "History is watching whether Speaker Johnson will put that bill on the floor. If he does, it will pass, we will get Ukraine what it needs for Ukraine to succeed. If he doesn’t, then we will not be able to give Ukraine the tools required for it to stand up to Russia, and Putin will be the major beneficiary of that."


LONG-SHOT WORKAROUND: A Democrat and a Republican in the House are working to get an alternative foreign aid and border bill to the House floor this week in hopes of getting a $50 billion pared-down compromise bill through over Johnson's objections.

"What our bill does is it combines border security with this foreign aid, both existential, and we are forcing this bill to the floor to make sure that everybody acts because, as President Zelensky said, they have weeks and not months to get reinforcements on the front lines," Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) said on CBS's Face the Nation. "What we’re trying to accomplish here, this is time sensitive, it’s existential. I just got back from Ukraine. Avdiivka fell in the past seven days. … In the past seven days, 200 families had to bury their kids because of fentanyl."

"We have a bipartisan bill. It’s the only one in the House," said Rep. Jared Golden (D-MA). "Normally any kind of discharge like that would take 30 days to even be considered, but we figured out a way with the parliamentarian to expedite that to a seven-day period."

"If our bill gets to the floor, it will also have a lot of votes. … I think two-thirds of the House would support this," Fitzpatrick said. "It is open to amendments. So, our bare-bones language was just a vehicle to get to the floor, but what we’re trying to do is to make sure that we do not waste another day because these are — I mean, Ukraine is in dire straits right now."

Jeffries is still pushing to get a vote on the $95 billion foreign aid bill that passed the Senate through a discharge petition if necessary, but Golden said that's an unlikely scenario.

"What I would say is that discharge petition doesn’t have any Republican support. What we have now is a bill with a discharge petition that is led by a Republican," Golden said. Fitzpatrick suggested the bipartisan measure might be attached to any continuing resolution passed to keep the government funded, giving Johnson some breathing room. "I think Mike’s in a tough political spot right now and needs all the help he can get from all of his allies in the House."


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 Stacey Dec. 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 me on Threads and/or on X @jamiejmcintyre


HAPPENING TODAY: Hungary's parliament is expected to ratify Sweden's bid to join NATO today after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave the green light following a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson last week in Budapest. The 18-month impasse came after Sweden agreed to sell Hungary four Swedish JAS 39 Gripen jets as part of a new defense industry agreement.

If the vote goes as expected, Sweden will become the 32nd member of NATO. 

Orban said the additional Swedish fighter jets "will significantly increase our military capabilities" and improve Hungary's ability to participate in joint NATO operations.

"To be a member of NATO together with another country means we are ready to die for each other," Orban said, according to the Associated Press. "A deal on defense and military capacities helps to reconstruct the trust between the two countries."

STOLTENBERG: WHEN, NOT IF, UKRAINE WILL JOIN NATO, TOO: In a statement marking the two-year mark since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisted that Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO is a foregone conclusion.

"President Putin started this war because he wanted to close NATO's door, and deny Ukraine the right to choose its own path. But he has achieved the exact opposite: Ukraine is now closer to NATO than ever before," Stoltenberg said. "Ukraine will join NATO. It is not a question of if, but of when."

Stoltenberg acknowledged the situation on the battlefield "remains extremely serious," but he argued there is no prospect of negotiating a peaceful conclusion to the war. "President Putin's aim to dominate Ukraine has not changed. And there are no indications that he is preparing for peace. But we must not lose heart."


ZELENSKY ON JD VANCE: 'NOT SURE THAT HE UNDERSTANDS': In his weekend news conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remained defiant and expressed the hope in the end that the United States will come through with the military assistance his country needs so desperately.

"Well, we do have hopes for the Congress," Zelensky said at the two-hour session with reporters. Asked point-blank if he still has faith in the U.S. Congress, he replied, "I’m sure there will be a positive decision because otherwise it will leave me wondering what kind of a world we are living in."

In a follow-up one-on-one interview with CNN, Zelensky was asked about comments by Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) at the Munich Security Conference a week ago.

"If the package that's running through the Congress right now, $61 billion of supplemental aid to Ukraine, goes through, I have to be honest to you, that is not going to fundamentally change the reality on the battlefield," Vance said, citing what he called limits to American manufacturing capacity. "The amount of munitions that we can send to Ukraine right now is very limited."

"I’m not sure that he understands what’s going on here. And we don’t need any rhetoric from people who are not deeply in the, you know, in the war," Zelensky told CNN's Kaitlan Collins. "So to understand it is to come to the front line to see what’s going on, to speak with the people then to go to civilians to understand what will be with them and then what will be done without this support. And he will understand that millions of people have been killed — will be killed."


US AND UK CONDUCT ANOTHER ROUND OF STRIKES IN YEMEN: With Houthi forces in Yemen continuing to target and sometimes hit commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, U.S. and British forces felt compelled to conduct a fourth round of coordinated airstrikes aimed at degrading Houthi missile and drone capabilities on Saturday.

"The targets included Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defense systems, radars, and a helicopter," the U.S. Central Command said in a press release.

The strikes against 18 targets were carried out by U.S. F/A-18 Super Hornets flying off the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower along with fighter jets from the Royal Air Force and support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, CENTCOM said.

Undeterred, the Houthis fired a single anti-ship ballistic missile toward the M/V Torm Thor, a U.S.-flagged, owned, and operated chemical/oil product tanker in the Gulf of Aden. "The missile impacted the water causing no damage or injuries," CENTCOM said.



Washington Examiner: Patrick McHenry says GOP needs Speaker Johnson to 'be better' as shutdown looms

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Washington Examiner: 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in war with Russia, Zelensky says

Washington Examiner: Department of Defense has more than 50 criminal investigations into Ukraine aid, but nothing substantiated

Washington Examiner: Nancy Mace contends GOP is 'pro-America,' not 'pro-Russia' amid criticism on stalled Ukraine aid

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AP: At Paris gathering, Western leaders to show unity for Ukraine and signal 'that Russia cannot win'

Reuters: Russia Will Try New Offensive In Ukraine As Early As May, Zelenskiy Says

BBC: Ukraine Says It Has Downed Second Russian A-50 Spy Plane in Weeks

New York Times: The Spy War: How the CIA Secretly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Experts: 2025 Could Be 'Year of Decision' in Ukraine War

Defense News: Europeans Are Building a War Economy. Can They Master It?

Breaking Defense: Hungary, Sweden Reach Deal for Additional Gripen Fighters, with NATO Clearance Looming

CNN: Sinking Ship Hit By Houthi Missile Leaves 18-Mile Oil Slick In Red Sea, U.S. Officials Say

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Washington Post: U.S. struggles for influence in West Africa as military juntas rise

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AP: Small, Nonthreatening Balloon Intercepted Over Utah by NORAD

Politico: Opinion: 4 Myths About Ukraine that Might Sound Right But Are Actually Wrong

Military.com: Cyberattack Against Commercial Prescription Program Hamstrings Military Pharmacies Around the World

Military Times: Lawmakers Set to Question Austin on Decision to Hide Cancer Diagnosis

Defense One: Top Pentagon IT Official Departs Deputy CIO Role

Breaking Defense: Industry, DSCA Pushing to Give Partners 'Clear Answers' on Weapon Sale Holds



8 a.m. — Carnegie Endowment for International Peace virtual “Global Dialogue” discussion: “China and Europe,” with Yifan Ding, president, China Society for France Studies; Alice Ekman, senior analyst, European Union Institute for Security Studies; and Lizza Bomassi, deputy director of Carnegie Europe https://carnegieendowment.org/2024/02/26/carnegie-global-dialogue

9 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Security in the Horn of Africa,” with Somalian Deputy Prime Minister Salah Jama https://www.csis.org/events/security-horn-africa-discussion:

10 a.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: “What we learned from the South Carolina Republican primary,” with Matt Moore, managing partner at First Tuesday Strategies and former chairman, South Carolina Republican Party; Meg Kinnard, national politics reporter, Associated Press; Chris Stirewalt, senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Elaine Kamarck, founding director, Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management; and William Galston, chairman and senior fellow in governance studies, Brookings Institution https://connect.brookings.edu/register-to-watch-south-carolina-primary

10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Nuclear Issues virtual 2024 PONI Winter Conference "Lessons from Ukraine," with Heather Williams, CSIS PONI director and senior fellow, CSIS International Security Program; Chase Harward, CSIS PONI program coordinator; and Joseph Rodgers, CSIS PONI associate director and associate fellow https://csis.zoom.us/webinar/register


9 a.m. 1150 22nd St. NW — FedScoop, CyberScoop, and Trellix Cybersecurity Summit, with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA); Robert Silvers, Homeland Security undersecretary for strategy, policy, and plans; Rob Joyce, director, National Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Directorate; Hemant Baidwan, deputy chief information security officer, Homeland Security Department; Deputy Health and Human Services Secretary Andrea Palm; Cynthia Kaiser, deputy assistant director, FBI Cyber Division; Anjana Rajan, assistant national cyber director for technology security, Executive Office of the President; Tony Plater, Navy chief information security officer; and Deputy Defense Chief Information Officer for Cybersecurity David McKeown https://cybersecuritysummit.upgather.com/

9 a.m. 2301 Constitution Ave. NW — U.S. Institute of Peace and Atlantic Council discussion: “Two Years In: Analyzing the War in Ukraine,” with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst; senior director, Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center; former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steve Pifer, Brookings Institution senior fellow; former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, chairman in diplomacy and security, Rand Corporation; former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, senior adviser, USIP Russia and Europe Center; and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, vice president, USIP Russia and Europe Center https://www.usip.org/events/two-years-analyzing-war-ukraine

9 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “A Decade of Crimea’s Temporary Occupation: Turkey’s Role in Supporting Ukraine,” with Ukrainian First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Emine Dzhaparova; Alina Frolova, deputy chairwoman, Center for Defense Strategies; former Turkish Ambassador to Ukraine Yagmur Ahmet Guldere, Ukraine coordinator, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Tamila Tasheva, permanent representative, president of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/a-decade-of-crimeas-temporary-occupation

9:30 a.m. 2401 M St., NW — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Defense Writers Group breakfast conversation with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George. RSVP: Thom Shanker [email protected]

9:30 a.m. — Stimson Center virtual discussion: "Japan's National Security Strategy: The Role of Alliance and Partnerships," with Chikako Kawakatsu Ueki, visiting scholar, MIT Security Studies Program, and professor, Waseda University, and Yuki Tatsumi, senior fellow and director, Stimson Center Japan Program https://stimsoncenter.zoom.us/webinar/register

10 a.m. 562 Dirksen — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee hearing: “The U.S. Technology Fueling Russia’s War in Ukraine: How and Why,” with testimony from James Byrne, director, Royal United Services Institute’s Open-Source Intelligence and Analysis Research Group; Damien Spleeters, deputy director of operations at Conflict Armament Research; and Elina Ribakova, director, International Affairs Program and vice president for foreign policy, Kyiv School of Economics http://www.hsgac.senate.gov

2 p.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: “Iran’s regional network and the crisis in the Middle East," with Suzanne Maloney, vice president and director, Brookings Foreign Policy program; Jeffrey Feltman, visiting fellow in international diplomacy,  foreign policy, Brookings Institution’s Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology; Allison Minor, visiting fellow in global economy and development, Brookings Institution’s Center for Sustainable Development; Renad Mansour, senior research fellow, Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa program and project director, Chatham House’s Iraq Initiative; and Natan Sachs, director, Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy and senior fellow in foreign policy, Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy https://www.brookings.edu/events/irans-regional-network

2:15 p.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Foreign Relations Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism Subcommittee hearing: "Yemen and Red Sea Security Issues,” with testimony from Timothy Lenderking, U.S. special envoy for Yemen, and Daniel Shapiro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East http://foreign.senate.gov

2:30 p.m. 37th and O Sts. NW — Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service discussion: “Indo-Pacific Strategy & the Quad,” with Camille Dawson, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs  https://www.georgetown.edu/event/fireside-chat

3 p.m. — Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center virtual forum: "Nevada National Security Site: a Premier National Security Asset and its NNSA Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Stewardship Mission," with retired Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, president, Mission Support and Test Services; David Funk, vice president, enhanced capabilities for subcritical experiments, Mission Support and Test Services; and Melissa Hunt, director, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation for Global Security, Mission Support and Test Services https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nnsa-nevada-national-security-site

5 p.m. 1521 16th St. NW — Institute of World Politics lecture: “Military Implications, August 2022 Taiwan Strait Crisis,” with Wayne Hugar, director, China intelligence education programs, National Intelligence University https://www.iwp.edu/events/military-implications


9 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “Taking Stock of Ukraine in 2024,” with Lt. Gen. Karel Rehka, chief, Czech General Staff; Lt. Gen. Leonard Kosinski, director of logistics for the Air Force Joint Staff; Jan Jires, director general for defense policy and planning, Czech Ministry of Defense; Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova; Mark Newton, defense minister counselor, British Embassy; Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov; and Maria Tomak, head, Crimea Platform Department, Mission, President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea https://www.hudson.org/events/taking-stock-ukraine-2024

9 a.m. — Counter Extremism Project webinar: "CEP Webinar: Violent Extremism And Terrorism In The Sahel," with Riza Kumar, research analyst, Counter Extremism Project; Anna Wasserfall, policy adviser for West Africa at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung; Delina Goxho, associate fellow at EGMONT, Royal Institute for International Relations; and Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior Director, Counter Extremism Project https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register 

9:30 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution discussion: “Optimizing Air Power,” with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin https://www.brookings.edu/events/optimizing-air-power

9:30 a.m. 216 Hart — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: "Evolving workforce dynamics and the challenges for defense acquisition and defense industrial base personnel" http://www.armed-services.senate.gov

10 a.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing: “Tehran’s Shadow Army: Addressing Iran’s Proxy Network in the Middle East,” with testimony from Suzanne Maloney, vice president and director of foreign policy, Brookings Institution, and Brian Hook, vice chairman of Cerberus Global Investments, Cerberus Capital Management https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings

11 a.m. — Wilson Center Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies virtual discussion: “The Political Landscape in Russia,” with Maria Lipman, visiting scholar, George Washington University’s Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, and Michael Kimmage, professor of history, Catholic University of America https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/kennan-long-view-series-political-landscape-russia

3:30 p.m. 222 Russell — Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing: "Traumatic brain injury and blast exposure care" http://www.armed-services.senate.gov

3:30 p.m. 418 Russell — Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing: “Sacred Mission: Honoring America’s Veterans and their Families at VA Cemeteries" http://veterans.senate.gov

5 p.m. 1521 16th St. NW —  Institute of World Politics lecture: “Wagner Group: The Privatization, Instruments of National Power,” with John McCarthy, senior program adviser to the Navy’s Technical Exploitation Command https://www.iwp.edu/events/wagner-group

"He doesn't have a mobile phone. How can he call me? And I don't use a 1917 telegraph."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in response to a question at his Saturday news conference about whether he would take a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin
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