Daily on Defense: Putin bristles over Western weapons, Biden says Ukraine can’t use US missiles to strike Moscow, France to provide Mirage jets, dueling body count claims

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BY JAMIE MCINTYRE

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PUTIN BRISTLES OVER WESTERN WEAPONS FOR UKRAINE: At an event with international journalists this week, President Vladimir Putin railed against the NATO countries providing weapons to Ukraine and suggested Russia could provide long-range weapons to America's enemies for use against Western countries as a “symmetrical response” to the lifting of some restrictions on Ukraine’s use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets within Russia. 

"If they consider it possible to deliver such weapons to the combat zone to launch strikes on our territory and create problems for us, why don't we have the right to supply weapons of the same type to some regions of the world where they can be used to launch strikes on sensitive facilities of the countries that do it to Russia?" Putin said.

Putin singled out Germany, which he accused of not only providing weapons to Ukraine but operating them as well. "When the first German tanks, tanks made in Germany, appeared on Ukrainian soil, it produced a moral and ethical shock in Russia because the attitude in Russian society to the federal republic has always been very good — very good," Putin said. "Now, when they say that some missiles are to appear that would attack facilities on Russian territory, it will certainly destroy Russian-German relations for good and all."

Asked whether Russia might decide to use nuclear weapons, Putin pointed to Russia's published nuclear doctrine, sometimes referred to as "escalate to deescalate." 

"For some reason, they believe in the West that Russia will never use it," he said. "Look at what is written there. … If somebody's actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we consider it possible to use all means at our disposal."

AUSTIN: US POLICY HASN'T CHANGED: In a D-Day interview with CNN, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said President Joe Biden's decision to allow the use of some shorter-range rocket systems to hit targets directly across the border is purely defensive.

"Our policy of using long-range strike weaponry to go into Russia hasn’t changed," Austin told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "But what we have done is provided Ukraine the ability to counterfire, to fire back at those Russian troops that are firing at them, and to be able to take out their artillery batteries as they’re firing at the Ukrainians. And I think that’s going to prove to be very, very helpful to the Ukrainians going forward."

"We’re not talking about giving them weapons to strike Moscow, to strike the Kremlin," Biden said in an interview with ABC's David Muir. Ukrainian strikes are limited, he said, to strikes "just across the border, where they’re receiving significant fire from conventional weapons used by the Russians to go into Ukraine to kill Ukrainians.”

“They’re authorized to be used in proximity to the border when they’re being used on the other side of the border to attack specific targets in Ukraine,” Biden said. “We’re not authorizing strikes 200 miles into Russia, and we’re not authorizing strikes on Moscow, on the Kremlin.”

TURNER: LIFT THE BAN ON ATACMS: "The Biden Administration is limiting Ukraine's ability to defend itself against Russian attacks. You can't fight a war where the enemy gets to hit you, and you don't get to hit back," Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a D-Day post on X.

"Today, I sent a letter to @SecDef [Austin] urging the Biden Administration to lift any ban on ATACMS and other long-range U.S.-supplied weapons to Ukraine," he said. "Reversing this is incredibly important to make certain that Russia faces consequences for its actions."

The Institute for the Study of War released a policy paper last month arguing that Ukraine needs a free hand to deny Russia "sanctuary space" from which to mass troops or launch missile attacks without fear of preemptive attack. "ISW continues to assess that the US should allow Ukraine to strike all legitimate military targets in Russia's operational and deep rear with US-provided weapons," the think tank said yesterday. "Russia will continue to benefit from any partial sanctuary provided by Ukraine’s allies restricting Ukraine's ability to use their weapons to defend against Russian aggression."

"If you tell the aggressor exactly what you won’t do, you have no deterrence. And so we’re basically limiting what we’re giving the Ukrainians, limiting what they can do with it, stretching it out, and they’re fighting and dying," retired Gen. Wes Clark, a former supreme NATO commander, said on CNN. "Letting them shoot across the border, exactly right. It’s Putin’s problem if he gets into a confrontation."

"What’s happening right now, as the Eastern European countries who are members of NATO, they join for protection from Russia. They see what’s happening in Ukraine. They’re nervous," Clark said. "They’re saying, 'Will a piece of paper save us? Will a Biden administration come to our support? I know we’re in NATO, but they seem to be talking to Russia behind the scenes, and it seems really scary to us, maybe they’ll cut a deal at our expense.' That’s the future of NATO we can’t have."

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Good Friday 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: President Joe Biden is meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris this morning before he delivers a speech billed as a defense of democracy at Pointe du Hoc, the legendary location where Army Rangers scaled cliffs during the D-Day invasion and the site of one of the most famous speeches by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Biden's speech would focus on sacrifices made by U.S. soldiers during "an existential fight between a dictatorship and freedom."

In his D-Day remarks yesterday, Biden pledged to stand by Ukraine. "The United States and NATO and a coalition of more than 50 countries standing strong with Ukraine," he said. "We will not walk away because if we do, Ukraine will be subjugated. And it will not end there. Ukraine's neighbors will be threatened. All of Europe will be threatened."

In an address to the lower house of the French Parliament, Zelensky compared his country's battle with Russia to the critical moment in history that D-Day represented in World War II. "This battle is a crossroads," Zelensky said. "A moment where we can now write history the way we need it. Or we can become victims of history as it suits … our enemy."

Meanwhile, in a major shift in policy, French President Emmanuel Macron, announced in an interview with broadcasters TF1 and France 2 that France will provide Ukraine Mirage 2000 fighter jets as early as this summer along with training for up to 4,500 service personnel in France.

BATTLE OF THE BODY COUNTS: During his Wednesday session with foreign journalists, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Ukraine's battlefield losses are five times those of the Russian army.

Putin was responding to a question from Agence France-Presse, whose European editor asked why Russia does not disclose its casualty figure for the war. "I can say that, as a rule, no one ever talks about this. If they do, then, as a rule, they distort the real figures," Putin said before offering numbers at odds with the estimates of Western intelligence services.

"I can tell you with complete confidence that our losses, especially as concerns irreparable losses, [i.e. deaths], unfortunately, then, they are several times less than on the Ukrainian side," Putin said. "If we talk about approximate irretrievable losses, then the ratio is the same: 1 to about 5."

Putin claimed that Ukraine was losing 50,000 troops a month, with about half killed and the other half wounded. "According to our data — we get it from various sources — they recruit around 30,000 [people] per month by force or without force, but mostly by seizing men on the streets. There are not many people willing to fight there."

Putin said he knew draftees being brought in under Ukraine's new law lowering the age of conscription from 27 to 25 was not enough to make up for the losses.

In his D-Day speech, Biden acknowledged Ukraine is "suffering great losses" but has inflicted tremendous cost on Russia. "The numbers are staggering: 350,000 Russian troops dead or wounded. Nearly 1 million people have left Russia because they can no longer see a future in Russia."

The British Defense Ministry estimated more than 500,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded since the start of the war, with losses averaging 1,200 a day in the month of May. 

UKRAINE'S PATH TO VICTORY HINGES, NOT ON WEAPONS, BUT ON PEOPLE

THE RUNDOWN: 

Washington Examiner: Wicker plan to spend 5% of GDP on defense runs up against tough budget realities

Washington Examiner: Biden uses D-Day speech to take veiled shots at Trump, vows to stand by Ukraine

Washington Examiner: Trump thanks four D-Day veterans in Trump Force One call

Washington Examiner: Maui council opposes putting military telescopes on volcano after fuel spillage

Washington Examiner: Illegal immigrant arrests in May defy odds: Leaked government data

Washington Examiner: Biden asylum ban's loopholes could create headaches, immigration experts say

Washington Examiner: Trump blasts Biden immigration executive order

Washington Examiner: Ukraine's path to victory hinges, not on weapons, but on people

New York Times: Israeli Strike Kills Dozens at Civilian Shelter in Gaza

Washington Post: Israel Used US Munition in Deadly Strike on UN School, Experts Say

AP: D-Day Anniversary Haunted by Dwindling Number of Veterans and Shadowed by Europe's New War

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Invasion-Striped C-130s Soar Over France for 80th Anniversary of D-Day

Bloomberg: U.S. Seeks To Up Pressure On Houthis In Threat To Yemen-War Truce

AP: Yemen's Houthi Rebels Unveil Solid-Fuel 'Palestine' Missile That Resembles Iranian Hypersonic

Bloomberg: Top Lawmaker Calls Out Subcontractor in Next-Gen Submarine's Delays

Breaking Defense: 6 Months After Fatal V-22 Crash, an Air Force Osprey Squadron in Japan Prepares to Fly Again

Stars and Stripes: Lawmakers Chip Away at Controversial Plan to Transfer Air National Guard Units to Space Force

SpaceNews: Report: Space Force Transitioning to New Model for the Defense of Space

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Airmen and Guardians Conduct Second ICBM Test in Three Days

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Air Force Expands Missile Cancer Study to ICBM Launch Silos

Defense One: Missile Threats Are Proliferating. Here's How the Pentagon Is Trying to Keep Up

Air & Space Forces Magazine: MDA Boss: Let's 'Think Creatively' for Hypersonic Defense While Waiting for New System

NBC News: SpaceX Successfully Launches Its Starship Megarocket to Orbit, Returning It to Earth for the First Time

Aviation Week: GKN Plans to Double F-35 Canopy Production By 2027

Air Force Times: 'We Failed': How an F-16 Flight on 9/11 Shaped National Guard's No. 2

Defense Scoop: DOD CIO John Sherman Departing at the End of June

THE CALENDAR: 

FRIDAY | JUNE 7

9 a.m. 14th and F Sts. NW — Arms Control Association 2024 annual meeting, with the theme “Moving Back from the Nuclear Brink,” with Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Pranay Vaddi, senior director for arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation at the National Security Council https://www.armscontrol.org/2024AnnualMeeting

11 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Centering Human Rights in Ukraine’s Reconstruction,” with Melinda Haring, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, and Bill Van Esveld, associate director for the Middle East and North Africa at the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division https://www.csis.org/events/centering-human-rights-ukraines-reconstruction

11 a.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion: "NATO's top military officer on Ukraine war, European security, and world order," with Royal Netherlands Navy Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman, NATO Military Committee, and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

11:30 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “NATO in the New Era of Collective Defense,” with Royal Netherlands Navy Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman, NATO Military Committee https://www.hudson.org/events/nato-era-collective-defense-rob-bauer

3 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution discussion: “Taiwan’s Central Role in the Global Economy,” with James Goodrich, Rand Corporation senior adviser for technology analysis; Janka Oertel, director, European Council on Foreign Relations Asia Program; and Shelley Rigger, professor of Asian politics at Davidson College https://www.brookings.edu/events/taiwans-central-role

TUESDAY | JUNE 11

12 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave., NW— Center for Strategic and International Studies in-person and virtual book discussion: The Melting Point: High Command and War in the 21st Century, with author retired Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, former commander, U.S. Central Command; and Emily Harding, deputy director, CSIS International Security Program https://www.csis.org/events/melting-point-book-talk-general-frank-mckenzie

WEDNESDAY | JUNE 12

10 a.m. 2172 Rayburn — House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing: “Great Power Competition in the Western Hemisphere," with testimony from Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs; Todd Robinson, assistant secretary, State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; and Michael Camilleri, acting assistant administrator, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. Agency for International Development https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/great-power-competition

THURSDAY | JUNE 13

TBA Brussels, Belgium — Meeting of NATO defense ministers June 13-14, with news conferences both days from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_225365.htm

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QUOTE OF THE DAY
"If you tell the aggressor exactly what you won't do, you have no deterrence. And so we're basically limiting what we're giving the Ukrainians, limiting what they can do with it, stretching it out, and they're fighting and dying. … I hope that we'll understand that you've got to have some ambiguity in this. … Letting them shoot across the border, exactly right. It's Putin's problem if he gets into a confrontation."
Retired Gen. Wes Clark, former supreme NATO commander, speaking on CNN on the 80th anniversary of D-Day
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