Daily on Defense: Zelensky seeks longer leash, Russian bombers hidden in plain sight, Trump immunity decision expected today

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ZELENSKY SEEKS LONGER LEASH: Frustrated as Russia uses retrofitted "dumb bombs" converted to standoff "glide bombs" to reduce Ukrainian cities to rubble, President Volodymyr Zelensky is again appealing to the Biden administration for wider authority to target the planes that launch the weapons from the safety of territory within range, but off limits, to U.S. weapons.

"The sooner the world helps us deal with the Russian combat aircraft launching these bombs, the sooner we can strike, justifiably strike, at Russian military infrastructure, military airfields, the closer we will be to peace. Real peace," Zelensky said in his nightly video address Sunday. 

At the same time, he said the Russian glide bombs were taking a terrible toll on the civilian population. Zelensky noted in the areas where Ukraine has been given a free hand to strike back across the border, attacks against Russian forces have been effective. "Strikes on the Russian border areas helped protect lives," he said. "And in particular, defending the Kharkiv region from the Russian offensive, we have proven that the determination of our partners truly helps."

"The world has enough power to force Russia into peace," he said. "Bold decisions that must be made, that we need, and that we are discussing with our partners. In the coming weeks, we will continue our communication to achieve the necessary decisions."

RUSSIAN PLANES SITTING DUCKS? The urgency of Zelensky's latest plea for the U.S. to remove restrictions on the use of long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, ATACMS, was underscored by a report by David Axe in Forbes, which suggested dozens of Russian planes that deliver the glide bombs are routinely parked in the open at the Voronezh Malshevo air base, just 100 miles from the border with Ukraine.

"From the base, Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers belonging to the Russian air force's 47th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment fly daily sorties lobbing powerful glide bombs at Ukrainian troops and civilians from 25 miles away or farther," Axe wrote. "The regiment's dozens of Sukhoi Su-34s — possibly representing around half of Russia's active fleet of the supersonic, twin-engine fighter-bombers," he said, are well "within range of Ukraine's best deep strike weapon," but the Su-34s are able to launch glide bombs "with near impunity" because of the refusal of the Biden administration to approve the strikes by ATACMS rockets deeper into Russian territory.

"Ukraine could potentially incapacitate the entire operational fleet stationed there if permitted to conduct such a strike," the report said, quoting an assessment by the Ukrainian analysis group Frontelligence Insight.

ISW: PUTIN'S POSITION IS HARDENING: Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin's "theory of victory" is being incentivized by the incrementalism of the West, according to the latest assessment by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. 

"The West must hasten to provide Ukraine the support it needs to conduct counteroffensive operations to invalidate Putin’s theory of victory and avoid protracting the war more than necessary to secure a peace acceptable to Ukraine and its partners," the ISW advocated, noting that Putin is convinced "Russia will be able to make creeping advances in Ukraine indefinitely," a belief that has "hardened" Putin's resolve of "destroying Ukrainian statehood."

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer published Sunday, Zelensky complained that the Western view of victory does not completely align with Ukraine’s.

"The West wanted to deny Putin the opportunity to fully occupy Ukraine and to put the aggressor in his place. I think for them it is the victory already," Zelensky told Philadelphia Inquirer Worldview columnist Trudy Rubin in a June 24 interview in Kyiv. "We are grateful that the West did not let Russia occupy us [fully], but we need justice."

"Everybody is still afraid that Russia can split apart, everybody is afraid of what will happen to Russia without Putin and whether it will stay as it is or get worse," Zelensky said, which is simply strengthening his position in any peace deal. "Any step forward on our territory, any occupation, any village even fully destroyed is positive for them because it is important for them to bargain as much as possible.

"Bit by bit, they are washing away Ukrainian independence. They take territory, then legislate [to annex it] or invent economic or security unions with Moscow, and then they dissolve the country in this mud, in this Russian mud," Zelensky said. "A ceasefire is the best option for the Russians so they can prepare for taking even more.

"We should be in the European Union for economic security. And we should be in NATO for physical security. If we don't have these two, there is a huge risk for us that the enemy will come back," he said. 


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


NOTE TO READERS: Daily on Defense will not publish on Thursday, July 4, or Friday, July 5, as we celebrate an extended Independence Day weekend. We'll be back in your inbox and online Monday, July 8. 

HAPPENING TODAY: The Supreme Court's long-awaited immunity decision is expected to be among the high court's last opinions to be released this morning beginning at 10 a.m. The case centers on whether former President Donald Trump is entitled to claim immunity from prosecution for at least some of his actions in seeking to overturn the 2020 election. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously in February that he cannot.

"Former President Trump argues that criminal liability for former Presidents risks chilling Presidential action while in office and opening the floodgates to meritless and harassing prosecution. These risks do not overcome 'the public interest in fair and accurate judicial proceedings,'" the court wrote in its February decision.

"We cannot accept former President Trump's claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power — the recognition and implementation of election results. Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the Executive has carte blanche to violate the rights of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count," the appeals court decision said. "At bottom, former President Trump's stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the President beyond the reach of all three Branches. … We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter."


WILL THE COURT SETTLE THE QUESTION OR SEND IT BACK? A big question is whether the court will uphold the lower court's definitive ruling or decide there are some cases where immunity is warranted and others where it is not and send the case for to the appeals court to reconsider.

"The expectation many of us had was that the court was clearly uncomfortable with the extreme views of either the Trump team or the lower court because the Trump team was saying he is sweeping virtually absolute immunity and then the lower courts gave very little protection for presidents going forward," said Jonathan Turley, professor of public interest law at George Washington University, on Fox News on Sunday. 

"The expectation is they may come up with a nuanced view and send this back," said Turley, who is also a regular Fox News contributor. The appeals court would then have to parse which Trump acts surrounding the events of Jan. 6 were official and which were not. "That will take time, and the clock is ticking," Turley said. "And many of us doubt that the court can do that and still have a trial before the election."

"I see zero chance they’re going to embrace Donald Trump’s argument that he has absolute immunity and can’t be prosecuted. I think they’re going to say that there is some immunity for the official actions of a president," said Jan Crawford, CBS News’s chief legal affairs correspondent, on Face the Nation Sunday. "I think they’re going to wall off those kind of official actions of a president but leave open the possibility of prosecution for unofficial actions of an office-seeker."

"Trump’s lawyer argued at the oral arguments, conceded at the oral arguments, a lot of what’s alleged in the indictment is unofficial acts," Crawford said. "So [special counsel] Jack Smith could have those papers ready to go and say, 'He’s conceded this is unofficial acts that he can be prosecuted for.'"

Trump faces a four-count indictment for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, but even if the court were to uphold the lower court decision fully, it’s unlikely a trial could start before September.

"The fundamental principle here is, the president’s got to be able to do his job. In the same way that police officers, judges, prosecutors enjoy some immunity, that principle has to apply to the president, too," Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) said on CBS. "The president has to have immunity to do his job. Should Barack Obama be prosecuted for droning American citizens in Yemen? There are so many examples of presidents, Democrats and Republicans, who would not be able to discharge their duties if the Supreme Court does not recognize some broad element of presidential discretion."

Vance, who is also in the running to be Trump's vice president, was asked by Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan whether he believes Trump would have the power to pardon himself if he takes office again.

"I believe that the president has broad pardon authority, Margaret, but more importantly, I think the president has immunity. It’s not about whether he should pardon himself," Vance said. "It’s about whether he should be prosecuted in the first place for discharging his official duties."



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10:30 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution discussion: “The Biden administration’s foreign policy and the role for U.S. leadership in navigating this critical moment,” with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Suzanne Maloney, director of foreign policy, Brookings Institution https://www.brookings.edu/events/americas-foreign-policy

2 p.m. —  McCain Institute virtual book discussion: Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine, with author and retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, former CIA director https://www.mccaininstitute.org/resources/events

4 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council releases report: “Executing Distributed Operations in a Contested Maritime Environment," with Dmitry Filipoff, associate research analyst, Center for Naval Analyses Operational Warfighting Division; Barbara Anderson, director of strategy and performance management at Herren Associates; retired Rear Adm. Tony Lengerich, vice president of naval programs at Thales Defense and Security; and Steven Grundman, senior fellow, Atlantic Council Forward Defense Program https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/executing-distributed-operations


8 a.m. 2425 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia — Association of the U.S. Army "Hot Topic" discussion: "Cyber and Information Advantage," with James Rubin, special envoy and coordinator for the U.S. State Department's Global Engagement Center; Young Bang, principal deputy assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology; Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, commander, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence; and Peter Singer, strategist with New America and founder and managing partner of Useful Fiction https://www.ausa.org/events/hot-topics

10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW — Brookings Institution in-person and virtual discussion: "Force Design: A conversation with Gen. Eric Smith, 39th commandant, US Marine Corps," and Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Brookings https://www.brookings.edu/events/force-design

10 a.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies "Aerospace Nation" webinar: "Want Better Results in Ukraine? Senior Leader Views," with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean, Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies; co-author Christopher Bowie; retired Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, former supreme NATO commander; and retired Air Force Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, former commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa https://go.afa.org

11 a.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE —  Heritage Foundation B.C. Lee Lecture on “the importance of Taiwan and what can be done to counter the threat of the People’s Republic of China," with Matt Pottinger, former deputy national security adviser and chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies China Program https://www.heritage.org/asia/event/the-2024-bc-lee-lecture


10 a.m. —  Brookings Institution virtual discussion: “NATO at 75: Old or Bold?” with Constanze Stelzenmuller, director, Brookings Center on the U.S. and Europe; Tara Varma, visiting fellow, Brookings Center on the U.S. and Europe; James Goldgeier, visiting fellow, Brookings Center on the U.S. and Europe; Asli Aydintasbas, visiting fellow, Brookings Center on the U.S. and Europe; and Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings chairman in defense and strategy https://www.brookings.edu/events/nato-at-75-old-or-bold/

7 p.m. 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW — Politics and Prose book discussion: Mr. Churchill in the White House: The Untold Story of a Prime Minister and Two Presidents, with author Robert Schmuhl, chair emeritus in American studies and journalism, University of Notre Dame, and Robert Costa, CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent https://www.politics-prose.com/robert-schmul


Federal holiday, government offices closed, no Daily on Defense

9 a.m. 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — National Archives celebration of the 248th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, with the presentation of colors by the Continental Color Guard, singing of the national anthem, performance by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, and Fife and Drum Corps, a reading of the Declaration of Independence by historical reenactors. https://www.archivesjuly4.org/schedule/day-of-celebration

11:45 a.m. Constitution Ave., between 7th St. and 17th St. NW — National Park Service National Independence Day Parade, featuring a fife and drum corps, marching bands, floats, military units, giant balloons, and equestrian and drill teams. https://july4thparade.com/

8 p.m. West Lawn, U.S. Capitol — National Park Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of the Army, the Boeing Company, American Airlines, and PBS host the traditional annual event: “A Capitol Fourth Concert,” with actor Alfonso Ribeiro; singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson; singer/actress Fantasia; singer/songwriter Darren Criss; singer/drummer Sheila E.; singers Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs of Fitz and the Tantrums; composer/pianist Chloe Flower; Sister Sledge, featuring Sledgendary; singer Loren Allred; artistic gymnast Shawn Johnson East; Jack Everly; principal pops conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; and the National Symphony Orchestra http://www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth/home


7 a.m.  Brussels, Belgium — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg press conference, NATO Headquarters to preview the NATO summit in Washington https://www.nato.int


8 a.m. Walter E. Washington Convention Center — NATO summit scheduled for July 9-11, marking the 75th anniversary of the 32-member alliance https://www.nato.int

"Obviously, there was a big problem with Joe Biden's debate performance, and there's also just a tremendous reservoir of affection and love for Joe Biden in our party. … There are very honest and serious and rigorous conversations taking place at every level of our party. … One thing I can tell you is that regardless of what President Biden decides, our party is going to be unified and our party also needs him at the very center of our deliberations and our campaign."
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), on MSNBC on Sunday, on the possibility of replacing Biden as Democratic nominee
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