Daily on Defense: Ukraine anxiously awaits arms, $95 billion aid by the numbers, Russia’s planned offensive, Ukraine downs strategic bomber, TikTok ban advances

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BY JAMIE MCINTYRE

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ZELENSKY'S BITTERSWEET VICTORY: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is getting plenty of kudos for putting his job on the line by relenting and allowing a vote on a Ukraine aid bill that would have easily passed in Congress six months ago — and saved untold Ukrainian lives.

"I am so proud of the speaker," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on ABC. "He went through a transformation. At the end of the day, a profile in courage is putting the nation above yourself, and that’s what he did. He said, at the end of the day, I’m going to be on the right side of history, irrespective of my job."

When it was finally put to a vote on Saturday, the Ukraine Security Supplemental Appropriations Act passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority 311-112. "Finally, after months of pointless, painful inaction, I'm deeply relieved to see the House pass sorely needed aid for Ukraine," Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said after the vote. "It never had to be this way or take this long."

The $61 billion will allow the Pentagon to replenish U.S. weapons stockpiles and "quite literally is the difference between life and death for thousands of Ukrainians," said Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. "I only regret that so many Ukrainian lives and strategic opportunities were lost in the months it took for House leadership to act."

"For half a year, we have been waiting," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. "I think this support will really strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine, and we will have a chance for victory if Ukraine really gets the weapon systems, which we need so much."

ZELENSKY ASSERTS THAT HOUSE PASSING FOREIGN AID PACKAGE SHOWS UKRAINE WON'T BE THE 'SECOND AFGHANISTAN'

PENTAGON POISED TO MOVE QUICKLY: Zelensky has been pleading for more air defenses and long-range missiles for months, watching as the morale of his troops has flagged and Russia has slowly gained ground. The influx of new weapons can't come soon enough.

"We have a lot of people who are ready to protect their motherland, but of course, the motivation, the morale can go down, especially when they go to the front line and they see that, well, there are no shells, there are no equipment," Zelensky said. "Thousands of soldiers need so much. And this aid should not be just spread in a thin layer all over, but it has to end up in tangible weapon systems, some really crucial weapon systems, which are hard to get, the long-range artillery."

The bill includes a requirement that the U.S. provide Ukraine with longer-range versions of the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS. "I really appreciate that it mentions ATACMS, long-range weapons," Zelensky said. "And it’s important because we need long-range weapons to not lose people on the front line."

"The Ukrainians are fighting like tigers," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Fox News. "This is the year of more. They’re going to have more weapons, but we also want them to have new weapons, ATACMS to knock the bridge down between Crimea and Russia. They’re going to have F-16s."

Zelensky lamented that the promised F-16s, which could be used to shoot down drones, as was demonstrated in the recent defense of Israel, are still months away. "The decision to supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, we’ve had it a year ago," Zelensky said. "A year has passed. We still don’t have the jets in Ukraine. … From the moment we get our hands on these weapon systems, well, from that moment, we can talk about the timeline."

"As you know, we have a very robust logistics network that enables us to move materiel very quickly. As we’ve done in the past, we can move within days," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said last week. "We also understand the dire situation there right now … and we'd like very much to be able to rush the security assistance and the volumes that we think they need to be successful."

On CBS, Warner said he's been told once the Senate passes the bill, and President Joe Biden signs it into law, "these materials will be in transit by the end of the week."

HOUSE GOP HARD-LINERS BLAST 'LAME DUCK' JOHNSON FOR FOREIGN AID PASSAGE BUT DODGE ON OUSTER

NOT JUST UKRAINE: The separate supplemental appropriations bills passed by the House over the weekend will be combined into one $95 billion package that includes aid not just for Ukraine but also for Israel, U.S. partners in the Indo-Pacific, and civilians suffering in Gaza. 

"The Senate now stands ready to take the next step," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Saturday, promising a vote tomorrow afternoon. "To our friends in Ukraine, to our allies in NATO, to our allies in Israel, and to civilians around the world in need of aid: Rest assured America will deliver yet again."

Here's what's in the legislation:

$61 billion for Ukraine: 

  • $23.2 billion to replenish U.S. weapons and ammunition already provided to Ukraine
  • $13.8 billion for Ukraine to buy advanced weapons systems
  • $11.3 billion to support U.S. military operations in Europe 
  • Requires the transfer of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine

$26 billion for Israel and Gaza

  • $5 billion for Israel's missile defense requirements
  • $3.5 billion in foreign military financing to support Israeli defense forces
  • $1 billion to boost Israeli production of artillery and key munitions
  • $2.4 billion for American forces operating in the region
  • $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in Gaza 

$8 billion for countering China: 

  • $3.3 billion would go toward submarine infrastructure and development
  • $1.9 billion to replenish U.S. weapons provided to Taiwan and other regional allies
  • $2 billion in foreign military financing to enhance the defense of Indo-Pacific partners like Taiwan 
  • $542 million to address Indo-Pacific Command unfunded requirements

WHAT IS IN THE $95 BILLION FOREIGN AID BILLS PASSED BY 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

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RUSSIA'S NEXT MOVE: Ukraine is warning that Russia is gearing up to try to take the strategic high ground in the Ukrainian city of Chasiv Yar with the goal of trying to capture the eastern Ukrainian city by May 9, the date of Russian Victory Day celebrations.

"Russia wants to mobilize 300,000 people by June 1. We are getting ready for this. By May 9, Russia expects that in the east of Ukraine, they will take Chasiv Yar, a city," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his NBC interview. "I visited the region recently. I talked to the soldiers. The soldiers say that they lack equipment. They need to fight Russian reconnaissance drones, which essentially guide the artillery. And we need artillery shells."

Russia has been steadily bombing the city using standoff weapons and glide bombs, dropping 20-30 munitions a day, according to a British intelligence assessment citing Ukrainian sources. "Chasiv Yar is heavily defended and situated on high ground," the assessment noted. "Russian forces have made only slow progress in the area."

"I hope we will be able to stay and the weapons will come on time and we will repel the enemy, and then we will break the plans of the Russian Federation with regard to this full-scale offensive," Zelensky said.

REPUBLICAN LOOKS TO BAN FOREIGN FLAGS IN HOUSE CHAMBER AFTER DEMOCRATS CELEBRATE UKRAINE AID

BACKFIRE BOMBER DOWNED: British intelligence also concluded that Ukraine's claim to have shot down a Russian Tu-22M3 Backfire-C bomber on Friday with a modified S-200 air defense system is "almost certainly accurate."

Video posted on social media showed the bomber in flames spiraling down to the ground. "This is the first instance of a strategic bomber being shot down by Ukrainian air defense systems," the U.K. Defense Ministry said on X. "It's highly likely that Russia has now sustained at least 100 fixed-wing combat losses to date."

Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense's Main Directorate of Intelligence, told the BBC that the Russian bomber was brought down by a Soviet-era S-200 (SA-5 Gammon) long-range surface-to-air missile at a range of 190 miles.

Budanov said the shootdown involved a lengthy planning process and the same technique that downed a Russian A-50 Mainstay airborne surveillance aircraft on Feb. 23

TIKTOK BAN ADVANCES: The House-passed legislation includes a ban on the popular social media platform TikTok if ByteDance, its China-based owner, doesn't sell its stake within a year. 

"To give it up to a full year, I think just from a business standpoint, makes sense," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner on CBS. "There is plenty of creativity on TikTok. There are people that make their living off of TikTok as social influencers. I don’t want that to go away. I simply want to make sure that the individuals pulling the strings are not ultimately functionaries of the Communist Party of China."

Critics argue the ban is unconstitutional and the issue will simply be tied up in lengthy litigation.

"I don’t think it’s going to pass First Amendment scrutiny because I think there are less restrictive alternatives," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) said on ABC's This Week. "We could have made it a crime to transfer Americans’ data to an adversarial foreign nation or foreign state interference, but to just ban 170 million Americans who are engaged in speech and livelihood — the federal judge in Montana struck it down. The judges struck it down when Trump tried this. I doubt it survives scrutiny in the Supreme Court. "

RO KHANNA VOWS TO 'TABLE ANY MOTION TO VACATE' SPEAKER MIKE JOHNSON

FISA EXTENDED 'IN THE NICK OF TIME': It was literally the eleventh hour Saturday night when the Senate began voting on a bill to reauthorize the law that allows the government to surveil foreign nationals outside the United States, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

"In the nick of time, we are reauthorizing FISA right before it expires at midnight," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said as the bill headed for a 60-34 approval. President Joe Biden signed the measure shortly thereafter. 

The program, which has been in effect since 2008, allows the government to conduct warrantless monitoring of communications of non-Americans located outside the country.

"The problem here is that the adversaries that we have around the world who want to do us harm have to be stopped, and this kind of surveillance of foreign adversaries, not Americans — it applies only to Americans if they’re in touch with those foreign adversaries — is absolutely necessary," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said on Fox News on Sunday. "Sixty percent of the president’s morning briefing, what he sees when he comes in first thing in the morning, comes from this kind of surveillance."

"So when you intercept information from a foreigner overseas talking about attacking America, I want to know what they’re talking about, and if you believe that Americans are involved, you have to get a warrant. We’re at war. This is intelligence gathering," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, appearing with Blumenthal on Fox. "We’re following some guy overseas who we think to be a terrorist. If he’s talking to somebody in the United States, we can query the system to find out what’s up. Maybe they’re threatening me. I’m on the threat list."

BIDEN SIGNS FISA EXTENSION INTO LAW AFTER RACE TO AVOID LAPSE

THE RUNDOWN: 

Washington Examiner: House passes $95 billion in foreign aid with support for Ukraine and Israel, ending stalemate

Washington Examiner: Zelensky asserts that House passing foreign aid package shows Ukraine won't be the 'second Afghanistan'

Washington Examiner: What is in the $95 billion foreign aid bills passed by the House

Washington Examiner: House GOP hard-liners blast 'lame duck' Johnson for foreign aid passage but dodge on ouster

Washington Examiner: Motion to vacate trio split on strategy to boot Johnson from the speakership

Washington Examiner: Greene issues warning to Johnson about motion to vacate: 'It's coming'

Washington Examiner: Ken Buck blasts 'Moscow Marjorie' for 'mouthing the Russian propaganda'

Washington Examiner: Ro Khanna vows to 'table any motion to vacate' Speaker Mike Johnson

Washington Examiner: Gonzales blasts fellow House Republicans as he contends Johnson will survive motion to vacate

Washington Examiner: Republican looks to ban foreign flags in House chamber after Democrats celebrate Ukraine aid

Washington Examiner: Congressmembers explain their votes against foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel

Washington Examiner: Biden signs FISA extension into law after race to avoid lapse

Washington Examiner: House fails to pass border security bill backed by Republicans

Washington Examiner: Blinken: US committed to 'de-escalating' Israel-Iran tensions following Israeli retaliation

Washington Examiner: Lessons learned from Israel's response to Iran attack

Washington Examiner: Iran downplays Israel attack as hawkish minister labels retaliation 'lame'

Washington Examiner: Israel to take US 'concerns' about Rafah operation 'into account': White House

Washington Examiner: US to announce first sanctions against an IDF unit over actions in West Bank

Washington Examiner: CIA chief warns US politicians to 'get their act together' to best China

Washington Examiner: Biden administration greenlights production of first nuclear warhead in 40 years

Washington Examiner: NATO allies think Trump has 'unprecedented power right now'

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Biden must explain what's going on with Iran czar Rob Malley

New York Times: Israel Planned Bigger Attack On Iran, But Scaled It Back To Avoid War

New York Times: U.S. Considers Imposing Sanctions on Israeli Military Unit

BBC: Ukraine Aid Package Could Help Kyiv Slow Russia's Advance

Politico: US Weighs Sending Additional Military Advisers to Ukraine as Russia Gains Momentum

Bloomberg: Xi Orders China's Biggest Military Reorganization Since 2015

Reuters: China’s Foreign Minister Says Major Powers Should Avoid Rivalry In South Pacific

SpaceNews: China to Leverage Growing Commercial Space Sector to Launch Megaconstellations

Wall Street Journal: China Orders Apple to Remove Popular Messaging Apps

Washington Post: US Agrees to Withdraw American Troops from Niger

Defense News: US Air Force stages dogfights with AI-flown fighter jet

Air & Space Forces Magazine: First AI Dogfights Focus on Safety, Building for CCA Applications 

Breaking Defense: Major Trends and Takeaways from the Defense Department's Unfunded Priority Lists

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Top Lawmakers Want 15 Percent Pay Raise for Enlisted Troops

Military.com: The Army National Guard Owes Thousands of Former Soldiers Unpaid Bonuses. It’s Asking Them to Figure It Out.

ProPublica: Army commanders will now have less power in some separation decisions

Air Force Times: Airman Dies While Deployed to Andersen Air Force Base

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Thomas C. Reed, Secretary of the Air Force Under Ford and Carter, Dies at 89

The Economist: Would You Really Die for Your Country?

THE CALENDAR: 

MONDAY | APRIL 22 

11 a.m. — Heritage Foundation virtual book discussion: “Ten Years to Save the West: Leading the Revolution Against Globalism, Socialism, and the Liberal Establishment,” with author Liz Truss, former U.K. prime minister https://www.heritage.org/conservatism/event/ten-years-save-the-west

2:15 p.m. — U.S. Institute of Peace virtual discussion: “The Road to Washington’s NATO Summit,” with Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell; Mirna Galic, chairwoman of the USIP Expert Study Group on NATO and Indo-Pacific Partners; former White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley; and Lise Grande, USIP president and CEO https://www.usip.org/events/road-washingtons-nato-summit

4 p.m. — Foundation for Defense of Democracies Zoom update on Ukraine for news media, with retired Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, FDD senior fellow; Bradley Bowman, senior director, FDD Center on Military and Political Power; and John Hardie, deputy director, FDD Russia Program. RSVP: [email protected]

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/

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

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

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QUOTE OF THE DAY
"This war is the war for the sake of all of us. This is our land. We don't have another place to go. … The U.S. Army now does not have to fight protecting NATO countries. Ukrainians are doing that. … We did lose the initiative … and that's why we need to actually have the weapon systems. When we get it, when we have it in our arms, then we do have the chance to take this initiative and to move ahead and to protect Ukraine."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday
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