Daily on Defense: Russia showing desperation, Biden promises long-range ATACMS, Senate debates aid bill, UK’s massive aid package, Poland’s nuclear ambition

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BY JAMIE MCINTYRE

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RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE TAKES ON AIR OF DESPERATION: As Volodymyr Zelensky was on the phone with President Joe Biden discussing what weapons and ammunition would be rushed to Ukraine as soon as a $61 billion aid package receives final Senate approval, the Ukrainian president was getting word of Russia's latest attack.

A Russian cruise missile struck a television tower in Kharkiv, the top half of which could be seen tumbling to the ground on video posted on X. "Russia clearly signals its intention to make the city uninhabitable," Zelensky said after his call with Biden. "Obviously, this is an intimidation to make the terror noticeable to the whole city and to try to limit Kharkiv in terms of communication and access to information. Work is underway to restore the signal," he said in his nightly video address.

Russia has been stepping up its attacks in what appears to be a desperate effort to maximize its advantage before Ukraine can rearm with fresh weapons that could arrive in Ukraine as early as this week.

"The Kremlin is conducting a concerted air and information operation to destroy Kharkiv City, convince Ukrainians to flee, and internally displace millions of Ukrainians ahead of a possible future Russian offensive operation against the city or elsewhere in Ukraine," the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in its latest Ukraine update. "Russia is intensifying strike and information operations against Ukrainians in Kharkiv City to exploit ongoing constraints on Ukrainian air defenses and heightened tensions in Ukraine in the likely relatively brief window before the anticipated arrival of US military assistance to frontline areas."

ZELENSKY: BIDEN PROMISES LONG-RANGE ATACMS: "The No. 1 issue is air defense. We are in absolute need of air defense," Zelensky told Biden and reiterated to the visiting bipartisan congressional delegation, which included Reps. Tom Kean (R-NJ), Nathaniel Moran (R-TX), Bill Keating (D-MA), and Madeleine Dean (D-PA). "We also need very specific weapons to help the military and protect civilians. Of course, we are talking about the need for weapons with a longer range. Artillery shells are also very important."

"​​We discussed the contents of the next U.S. military aid package. The president has assured me that the package will be approved quickly and that it will be powerful, strengthening our air defense as well as long-range and artillery capabilities," Zelensky said, referring to a provision of the House version of the $95 billion foreign aid package that mandates the Biden administration provide the Army Tactical Missile System with a range of up to 190 miles, long enough, for example, for Ukraine to target the Kerch Bridge that connects occupied Crimea to Russia.

Pentagon officials have indicated the first tranche of aid will be much larger than usual to make up for lost time and will include hundreds of thousands of 155 mm artillery shells and additional Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

FREEDOM CAUCUS DEFENDS MOVES THAT SENT UKRAINE FUNDING TO SENATE WITHOUT BORDER AID

BUDANOV: 'ARMAGEDDON WILL NOT HAPPEN': The latest British intelligence update noted that Russian forces appear to have taken the town of Novomykhailivka, which it said has "limited military significance" but lies on roads to other settlements in southern Donetsk.  

"This demonstrates the slow but incremental advances Russian forces are making," the assessment said, noting that Ukrainian defenses have inflicted "extremely high casualties" for Russian ground troops.

Russia also claimed it has gained territory near the town of Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine, which was once home to about 13,000 people but is now largely in ruins.

In an interview with the BBC, Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's Main Directorate of Intelligence at the Ministry of Defense, said Ukraine is expecting a major push from Russia over the coming weeks. 

"According to our assessment, we are anticipating a rather difficult situation shortly. However, it is not catastrophic, and this must be understood," Budanov said. "Armageddon will not happen despite what many are starting to claim. But we anticipate problems from mid-May."

"Russian forces appear to be aiming to make a wide penetration of Ukrainian lines northwest of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast," the ISW said in its assessment, "but their ability to do so will likely be blunted by the arrival of US and other Western aid to the frontline."

OPINION: UKRAINE AND THE EUROPEAN UNION MUST ADAPT THEIR STRATEGIES TO US AID REALITIES

Good Tuesday 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

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HAPPENING TODAY: The Senate is due to begin debating the $95 billion supplemental foreign aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The Pentagon has already determined what it will rush to Ukraine once the legislation is approved.

"The first step in the process is getting the national security supplemental signed into law," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said yesterday. "We are poised and ready to support Ukraine with additional security assistance, and also, of course, again, we’re eager to see that be signed into law."

"We recognize Ukraine has urgent needs," Ryder said. "We’ve been in constant contact throughout with Ukraine, our allies, and partners."

On Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host a virtual session of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the 21st meeting of the 50-some countries supporting Ukraine. "I would say that it’s notable that despite Russia’s assumptions that the international community would fragment and lose interest in supporting Ukraine over time, the opposite has been true," Ryder said.

UK ANNOUNCES ITS LARGEST AID PACKAGE TO DATE: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is visiting Poland today and will announce a 500 million-pound package of military assistance for Ukraine — its largest-ever contribution to Ukraine's war effort.

The aid includes some 400 vehicles, 1,600 munitions, 4 million rounds of ammunition, and more long-range Storm Shadow missiles and brings the United Kingdom's total contribution to more than 3 billion pounds.

"I am in Warsaw today to deepen ties with our Polish partners and commit critical new military support for Ukraine's defense. Ukraine's armed forces continue to fight bravely, but they need our support — and they need it now. Today's package will help ensure Ukraine has what they need to take the fight to Russia," Sunak said. "Defending Ukraine against Russia's brutal ambitions is vital for our security and for all of Europe. If Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border."

Sunak is meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Warsaw before traveling to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

POLAND'S DUDA: BRING ON THE NUKES: Meanwhile, Poland's president made some waves in an interview published Monday in which he said if NATO wants to base nuclear weapons in Poland to deter Russia, Poland would be willing to accept the weapons. 

"If there were a decision by our allies to deploy nuclear weapons within the nuclear sharing also on our territory in order to strengthen the security of NATO's eastern flank, we are ready," President Andrzej Duda told the Fakt tabloid.

Tusk later told journalists that he needs to discuss this suggestion with Duda urgently, according to the Associated Press

"This idea is absolutely massive, I would say, and very serious, [and] I would need to know all the circumstances that have led the president to make this declaration," Tusk said.

LAVROV: TEETERING DANGEROUSLY ON THE BRINK: In a conference in Moscow on nuclear nonproliferation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States and NATO of "dreaming of inflicting strategic defeat on Russia" and in the process risking a "direct military confrontation between nuclear powers."

"We are especially concerned that the three Western nuclear powers are among the main sponsors of the criminal Kyiv regime and the main organizers of various provocations. This could create serious strategic risks and increase the level of nuclear threat," Lavrov said.

"Washington and its allies are enlarging the network of alliances directed," Lavrov said, calling the new AUKUS alliance between the U.S., the U.K., and Australia "a matter of profound concern."

"They are working energetically to implement a number of highly destabilizing military-technical programs," he added. "They include the creation of a global ballistic missile defense system coupled with the stockpiling of precision weapons for delivering preemptive and decapitation 'global strikes,' the forward basing of U.S. nuclear arsenals in Europe … [as] well as preparations to deploy weapons in space and ground-launched intermediate and shorter-range missions throughout the world."

RUSSIA SPYMASTER MEETS WITH CUBAN, BOLIVIAN, AND BRAZILIAN COUNTERPARTS IN MOSCOW

THE RUNDOWN: 

Washington Examiner: Freedom Caucus defends moves that sent Ukraine funding to Senate without border aid

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Ukraine and the European Union must adapt their strategies to US aid realities

Washington Examiner: Blinken insists ‘no double standard’ as Israeli unit under fire for alleged human rights abuses

Washington Examiner: India Sends Supersonic Missiles To Philippines That 'Can Hit' China's Ships

Washington Examiner: State Department spotlights alleged Israeli human rights abuses 

Washington Examiner: India sends supersonic missiles to Philippines that 'can hit' China's ships

Washington Examiner: Russia spymaster meets with Cuban, Bolivian, and Brazilian counterparts in Moscow

Washington Examiner: Hawley demands Biden send National Guard to protect Jewish students at colleges

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Trump again bows to Beijing with pro-TikTok rant

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Labeling skeptics of Ukraine aid as Putin stooges is a lazy smear

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Not a winning strategy: Four times House GOP all-or-nothing politics has cost it

Washington Examiner: Editorial: Speaker Johnson's first big win

AP: US and Philippine Forces Launch Combat Drills in the Disputed South China Sea

Air & Space Forces Magazine: US Confirms First Attack on American Troops in Months as Drones Shot Down in Iraq

Reuters: Ukraine Launches Military Charm Offensive As Conscription Flags

Task & Purpose: After Niger Withdrawal, Chad May Want US Troops To Leave

Politico: US vs. Russia: Why the Biden Strategy in Africa May Be Failing

New York Times: Military Spending Up To A 35-Year High, Fueled By Ukraine War

Wall Street Journal: UN Finds Palestinian Refugee Agency Suffers from Political Bias

AP: The US is expected to block aid to an Israeli military unit. What is Leahy law that it would cite?

SpaceNews: Pentagon Eases Cloak of Secrecy Around Space Warfare Training

Breaking Defense: China's New H-20 Stealth Bomber 'Not Really' a Concern for Pentagon, Says Intel Official

Wall Street Journal: China's Economy Is 'Failing,' U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Says

AP: Chinese General Takes A Harsh Line On Taiwan And Other Disputes At An International Naval Gathering 

Air & Space Forces Magazine: ICBM Cancer Study Finds No High Levels of Hazardous Chemicals at Vandenberg

Breaking Defense: Space Force's Saltzman: New Readiness Model 'Fundamentally Alters' Space Combat Prep

Reuters: Injury Rates for Musk’s SpaceX Exceed Industry Average for Second Year

ISNI News: NAWCAD Brings Hyper-Realistic Flight Test and Training Simulators to Navy, Air Force

Military.com: Nomination of Air Force Officer at Center of GOP’s Fight Against ‘Woke’ Military Extended to 2025

Air & Space Forces Magazine: DOD Needs a Plan To Make Military Health System Genesis Work Better for Users, Watchdog Says

AP: Alaska Air National Guard Delays Staffing Changes That Threatened National Security, Civilian Rescues

Stars and Stripes: Air Force Student Pilot Struck, Killed by Train Near Laughlin AFB in Texas

The Cipher Brief: How New U.S. Aid to Ukraine Will (and Won't) Change the War

The Cipher Brief:  When U.S.-China Competition Reaches Outer Space

THE CALENDAR: 

TUESDAY | APRIL 23 

9 a.m. — Council on Foreign Relations virtual discussion: “The U.S.-ASEAN Relationship,” with U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Edgard Kagan; U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper; U.S. Ambassador to Laos Heather Variava; and Ted Osius, president and CEO of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council https://tinyurl.com/34vffau3

10 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “How to build lasting economic resilience in Ukraine,” with Nick Bias, group head of investor relations and corporate communications at Ferrexpo; Erin McKee, assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Europe and Eurasia; and Mykhailo Zhernakov, co-founder and chairman of the board of the DEJURE Foundation https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/building-lasting-economic-resilience-in-ukraine/

11 a.m. 1700 Army Navy Dr. Arlington, Virginia — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association discussion: “Space Force: Re-imagining space security,” with Maj. Gen. Steven Whitney, director of staff at the Space Force; Col. Kalliroi Landry, chief of the Space Force Space Development Agency’s Support Cell; Kameke Mitchell, chief of contracts at the Space Force Space Systems Command’s National Commercial Space Office; and Diane Ashley, managing director at Deloitte’s Government and Public Services https://afceadc.swoogo.com/space24

1:30 p.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW — Henry L. Stimson Center discussion: “Maritime Power for Global Security,” with Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro https://www.stimson.org/event/maritime-power-for-global-security

2:30 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies "Smart Women, Smart Power" virtual conversation with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti and Kathleen McInnis, director, Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative https://www.csis.org/events/navigating-seas-admiral-lisa-franchetti

4 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council discussion: “Space Industry for Space Strategy,” with U.S. Space Force Lt. Gen. Shawn Bratton, deputy chief of space operations, strategy, plans, programs, and requirements https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/space-industry

WEDNESDAY | APRIL 24

8:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies International Security Program in-person and virtual discussion: "Global Security Forum 2024: Gathering Strength in a Gathering Storm," with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. and Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, as well as additional senior national security officials and experts https://www.csis.org/events/global-security-forum

10 a.m. — Air and Space Forces Association virtual discussion: "How the U.S. Space Force is applying and executing electromagnetic warfare in, from, and to space,” with Col. Nicole “Gucci” Petrucci, commander, Space Force Space Delta https://www.afa.org/events/air-space-warfighters-in-action-col-nicole-petrucci/

1 p.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual discussion: "Top issues for NATO’s Allied Air Command as it adapts to a rapidly changing security environment,” with U.K. Royal Air Force Air Marshal Johnny Stringer, deputy commander of the NATO Allied Air Command https://mitchellaerospacepower.org/event/4-24-aerospace-nation

2 p.m. — Aerospace Industries Association webinar for news media: "National Security Space budget," with Steve Jordan Tomaszewski, AIA senior director, national security space; Sam Wilson, Aerospace Corporation; and Todd Harrison, American Enterprise Institute senior fellow. RSVP: [email protected]

7 p.m. 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW — Cathedral College of Faith and Culture discussion: “Principles and Politics,” with former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and historian Jon Meacham https://cathedral.org/calendar/principles-politics

8 p.m. — Jews United for Democracy and Justice virtual discussion: “Russia’s War on Ukraine,” with Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal chief foreign affairs correspondent, and Max Boot, senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations https://www.jewsunitedfordemocracy.org/event/april-24-trofimov-boot

THURSDAY | APRIL 25 

9 a.m. 1200 South Hayes St., Arlington, Virginia — Rand Corporation and the Polish Institute of International Affairs discussion: “Long War in Europe: Options for the U.S., Poland, and Allies for 2024 and Beyond," with Daniel Szeligowski, head of the PISM Eastern Europe Program; Ann Dailey, Rand policy researcher; Anna Tyszkiewicz, deputy director of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s International Security Department; and Kestutis Paulauskas, senior strategy officer at NATO Allied Command Transformation https://www.rand.org/events/2024/04/long-war-in-europe.htm

11 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW — Hudson Institute in-person and virtual book discussion: "Tackling the China Challenge with Strength," with Michael Sobolik, author of Countering China's Great Game and senior fellow of the Indo-Pacific Program at the American Foreign Policy Council, and Olivia Enos, Hudson senior fellow https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-event-tackling-the-china-challenge

2 p.m. — Defense One virtual discussion: “How the Marines are preparing for future conflicts and contingencies in the Pacific,” with Brig. Gen. Daniel Shipley, deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and Kyle Dewar, director of technical account management for the public sector at Tanium https://events.defenseone.com/defense-one-service-branch-spotlight

3 p.m. — Common Good virtual discussion: "Concerns About Gaza and Israeli Leadership,” with retired Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Amnon Reshef; Rula Jebreal, journalist and foreign policy analyst; and Richard Salomon, lawyer and CEO of Vantage Point https://www.thecommongoodus.org/upcoming-events

4 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research film screening and discussion: Before Bucha Was Abkhazia, a documentary tracking Russian war crimes in Georgia, with Giga Bokeria, chairman of European Georgia and former secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia; Iulia Joja, director of the Middle East Institute’s Black Sea Program; Dalibor Rohac, AEI senior fellow; and Giselle Donnelly, AEI senior fellow https://www.aei.org/events/the-eastern-front-special

MONDAY | APRIL 29

2 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution Governance Studies program and Count Every Hero in-person and virtual panel discussion: "The recent surge in non-federal National Guard deployments and what that means for the U.S. military and the 2024 elections," with Scott Anderson, fellow, governance studies and general counsel and senior editor, Lawfare; Kyle Miller, Pennsylvania policy strategist, Protect Democracy; retired Gen. Craig McKinley, U.S. Air Force; 26th chief of the National Guard Bureau; Paul Stockton, former assistant secretary of defense, homeland security; retired Gen. Joseph Lengyel, U.S. Air Force; 28th chief of the National Guard Bureau; retired Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, U.S. Air Force, former adjutant general of Nebraska, and immediate past president of the Adjutants General Association of the U.S.; and retired Brig. Gen. Allyson Solomon, U.S. Air Force, former assistant adjutant general of Maryland https://www.brookings.edu/events/domestic-deployment-of-the-national-guard/

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QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I am grateful to Mr. President, his team, everyone in the United States Congress, personally to Speaker Johnson, and all who support the active defense of freedom for the decision that benefits our protection from Russian terror and our ability to end the war justly, with true peace for all Ukrainians."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his Monday video address to his nation.
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