With help from Connor O’Brien
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President JOE BIDEN is hitting the road this summer, racking up miles on multiple stops in Europe and the Middle East — plus, presumably, the occasional sojourn to his beachfront home in Delaware.
The international trips offer a roadmap of what’s on the administration’s mind, and while China remains its stated long-term challenge, there are plenty of immediate fires to put out elsewhere around the globe.
Biden will kick off his travel schedule this month by heading to Germany on June 25 to attend a Group of Seven summit. He’ll then fly to Madrid on June 28 for the annual gathering of NATO member states. In Mid-July, he’ll visit Israel and Saudi Arabia for the first time as president, two more stops where some pretty delicate diplomacy will be in order.
The visits will almost certainly be dominated by Russia’s war in Ukraine and the question of how to contain the unpredictable VLADIMIR PUTIN, who isn’t showing any sign of ending his invasion. Instead, the autocrat has taken to comparing himself to Peter the Great, whose imperial ambitions Putin appears to have decided might suit him, as well.
One locale not on Biden’s official agenda — at least not yet — is Kyiv. The American president is one of a rapidly dwindling number of NATO heads of state not to have visited the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s invasion in February. A few of the final holdouts — France’s EMMANUEL MACRON, Italy’s MARIO DRAGHI, Germany’s OLAF SCHOLZ and possibly Romania’s KLAUS IOHANNIS — are expected to meet Ukrainian President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY there on Thursday.
That visit would come as the European Commission assesses whether Ukraine should be granted EU candidate status — a prospect Iohannis called “a correct solution from a moral, economic, and security perspective” after meeting with Macron in Romania today. The French president’s trip there is part of an announced three-day tour that also includes Moldova.
Macron, who has taken some heat for suggesting that Russia shouldn’t be “humiliated” in Ukraine, opted for a slightly different rhetorical approach today, suggesting the West should “have the common sense to say that we are not waging war against Russia.”
“The only desirable outcome of the conflict is either a Ukrainian military victory or, at some point, a negotiation,” he said, “because there will have been a ceasefire, which could allow for an agreement between Ukraine and Russia.”
Biden taking the train to Kyiv while on the continent for NATO and allied summits would likely be too predictable a move, and getting to the Ukrainian capital is still a complicated, time-consuming and dangerous process. American and European officials who have made the trek have had to fly to Poland, convoy to the border, and get on a train for the long journey East. It’s not an easy route for anyone, particularly a 79-year-old.
So this summer, Biden might just stick to Rehoboth Beach, instead.
U.S. UNVEILS NEW UKRAINE PACKAGE: The U.S. has prepped another $1.2 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, which Biden told Zelenskyy about in a 40-minute phone call on Wednesday.
On the military side, the new package includes $650 million pulled from the $40 billion Ukraine support package Congress passed in May; $350 million in drawdown authority from American military stocks; and $225 million in humanitarian assistance to help supply safe drinking water, medical supplies and health care, food, shelter, and cash for families affected by the Russian onslaught.
The weapons package will include two truck-launchers for Harpoon anti-ship missiles (following the recent Dutch shipment of Harpoons), ammo for the four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) the Ukrainians are currently wrapping up training on, 36,000 rounds of 155mm howitzer ammunition, 18 more howitzers and the armored vehicles to tow them — along with radios, spare parts, and other smaller pieces of equipment.
The announcement came as Defense Secretary LLOYD AUSTIN was wrapping up a meeting with 50 nations in Brussels to discuss how to send more military aid to Ukraine. While details on what new kit might be heading to Ukraine will trickle out over the coming days, Canada confirmed it will provide 10 replacement barrels for M777 howitzers, valued at approximately $9 million.
SMITH CALLS WH ‘TOO CAUTIOUS’ ON WEAPONS: House Armed Services Chair ADAM SMITH (D-Wash.) is pushing the White House to step up weapons to Ukraine, arguing the U.S. should ship Kyiv long-range artillery and armed drones. The U.S. approach on those weapons, he complained, is “too cautious.”
“I don’t think we have been fast enough to get the Ukrainians the drones that we have available,” Smith told reporters during a Defense Writers Group event. “The issue is a conscious decision that we’re worried about technology transfer, and then there’s this complicated discussion about, well, how quickly can we train them on it. I don’t know, but let’s get them over [there], and let’s get started.”
Smith also said he disagrees with Biden’s aversion to giving Ukraine weapons that have range to strike within Russia: “Every single weapon that we’ve given Ukraine to date could ‘hit inside Russia,’ OK? They could stand on the border and fire an AK-47 across the border for that matter. The point of giving them the weapons is not to be able to strike into Russia. The point of giving them the weapons is to be able to hit the Russians who are in Ukraine from a longer, safer distance.”
FIRST IN NATSEC DAILY — EXPERTS URGE EU CANDIDATE STATUS FOR UKRAINE: A group of 44 transatlantic experts, civil society leaders, and current and former government officials have signed a statement published today arguing that European Union leadership and the bloc’s member states should grant Ukraine official candidate status this month.
“What is needed now is not just a glimmer of hope for Ukrainians,” the statement reads, “but confidence and a guarantee in Brussels and across Europe that the path of integration chosen in 2014 [when Ukraine signed an Association Agreement with the EU] and the sacrifices made on the battlefield have not been in vain. The European Union can provide such guarantees by granting the EU candidate status to Ukraine in June 2022 and developing a roadmap with the Ukrainian government to achieve EU membership.”
The statement — organized by JONATHAN KATZ of the German Marshall Fund of the United States — features some prominent signatories: HUGUES MINGARELLI, former EU Ambassador to Ukraine; LAURYNAS KASCIUNAS, chair of the National Security and Defence Committee in Lithuania’s parliament; IAN KELLY, former U.S. ambassador to Georgia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; and STEVEN PIFER, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The statement’s release comes after European Commission President URSULA VON DER LEYEN traveled to Kyiv over the weekend and predicted the commission would be able to “finalize our assessment” of whether Ukraine should be granted candidate status “by the end of next week.” And following a debate among commissioners Monday, POLITICO Europe reported that the commission will indeed recommend granting Ukraine official status as an EU candidate country.
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U.K. UNDETERRED BY BLOCKED DEPORTATION FLIGHT: British Home Secretary PRITI PATEL said today that “preparation for the next flight” of asylum seekers in the U.K. to Rwanda “begins now,” per the Associated Press’ JILL LAWLESS, despite an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights that blocked the first scheduled deportation Tuesday.
“We will not be put off by the inevitable legal last-minute challenges,” Patel told lawmakers. As Lawless explains, British Prime Minister BORIS JOHNSON struck a deal in April “to send some migrants from countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria who arrive illegally in Britain as stowaways or in small boats to Rwanda, where their asylum claims will be processed. If successful, they will stay in the African country, rather than returning to Britain.”
Johnson’s government argues his plan “is a legitimate way to protect lives and thwart the criminal gangs that send migrants on risky journeys from France across the English Channel,” Lawless writes. But the proposal has come under intense criticism from human rights groups, leaders of the Church of England and others.
EUROPE SPLIT ON ‘PEACE’ VS. ‘JUSTICE’ FOR UKRAINE: Where you sit is where you stand in Europe when it comes to views on the war in Ukraine, according to a new poll that shows more people in the West and North of the continent wanting to push for peace than in Eastern Europe — which thinks Russia needs to be punished.
The survey, conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations in mid-May, found the peaceniks gaining ground in many places as the war drags on in the Donbas.
Pinging 8,000 people across 10 countries, the researchers report that “while Europeans feel great solidarity with Ukraine and support sanctions against Russia, they are split about the long-term goals. They divide between a ‘Peace’ camp (35 percent of people) that wants the war to end as soon as possible, and a ‘Justice’ camp that believes the more pressing goal is to punish Russia (25 percent of people),” the report states.
The respondents came from Poland, Romania, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Finland, Sweden and the U.K. One interesting finding was that only in Poland is the “Peace” crowd larger than the “Justice” leaners. Also, only in Poland, Germany, Finland and Sweden “is there substantial public support for boosting military spending.”
U.S. AND EU PARTNER ON FOREIGN CYBERSECURITY AID: The U.S. and the European Union plan to work together to introduce joint funding of secure digital infrastructure in developing countries, reports the Wall Street Journal’s CATHERINE STUPP, moving to help governments that might otherwise turn to money from China to fend off cyberattacks.
Per Stupp: “Initial projects, likely in Africa or Latin America, could be under way by the end of the year, officials said. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underscored the importance of supporting telecommunications networks and other hardware in countries vulnerable to nation-state cyberattacks, they said.”
An EU official said that Chinese technology meant to safeguard critical infrastructure can pose data-security risks, Stupp writes. “Officials from EU countries and the U.S. have said that products from Huawei Technologies Co., for example, contain built-in flaws that can be used for government espionage. Huawei has said that it won’t share data with the Chinese government.” The EU official added: “This is very much a question of defending democracy and defending people’s rights.”
BLIND SPOTS ON BEIJING’S MILITARY: The U.S. failure to correctly predict how the Russian and Ukrainian militaries would perform in the early stages of their ongoing war is now fueling fears in Washington that America may have a major lack of insight about China’s fighting force, report our own LARA SELIGMAN and NAHAL TOOSI.
The concerns are rising as American spy agencies are reexamining how they assess foreign militaries, and, according to a Biden administration official, are a key driver of a number of ongoing classified reviews.
China’s communist government is secretive about many of its military capabilities, and it’s believed to be closely watching and learning from Russia’s botched opening act in Ukraine. Growing U.S. worries that China will sooner rather than later attack Taiwan as part of a broader effort to eclipse American power in the Pacific make the topic of Beijing’s military prowess more salient than ever.
The People’s Liberation Army has not fought in a war in more than 40 years, but China has undertaken an extraordinary modernization of its armed forces over the past decade. Although the U.S. closely tracks developments in China’s might, officials know less about what Beijing intends to do with this increasingly powerful military.
HASC NDAA SIDES WITH BIDEN’S BUDGET… FOR NOW: The House Armed Services Committee is so far sticking to Biden’s proposed military budget in its first draft of the fiscal 2023 defense policy bill, obtained by our own CONNOR O’BRIEN and LEE HUDSON (for Pros!) ahead of its official release.
The chairman’s mark of the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $803 billion for national defense programs — an amount consistent with the administration’s request, according to the bill’s budget tables. That total includes $773 billion for the Pentagon budget, matching the request, and $29.9 billion for national security programs overseen by the Energy Department.
The chairman’s mark — which is the full committee’s draft of the bill, incorporating funding tables and broad policy pronouncements — also includes numerous policy provisions that weren’t addressed by HASC’s seven subcommittees.
HOUSE PROPOSES DHS FUNDING HIKE: House appropriators unveiled their fiscal 2023 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security today, per our own JENNIFER SCHOLTES (for Pros!), endorsing a 5 percent increase above current funding levels.
The measure would provide a total of nearly $86 billion for DHS, including almost $20 billion for major disaster response and recovery, plus more than $5 billion to offset fee collections. Nearly $16 billion would go to the department’s largest agency, Customs and Border Protection, a 6 percent boost.
TSA would receive about $10 billion, a 15 percent hike. FEMA would get almost $26 billion, a 7 percent increase. And the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would be funded at about $3 billion, 13 percent above current spending.
House appropriators plan to mark up the bill in subcommittee on Thursday morning, followed by full committee approval next week.
RUSSIAN FOOTBALL STAR SLAMS PUTIN’S WAR: IGOR DENISOV, the former captain of Russia’s national football team, is the latest and most high-profile Russian athlete to appeal for peace in Ukraine, per POLITICO Europe’s CAMILLE GIJS, after he voiced opposition to Putin’s invasion in an interview today.
Denisov said the events of the war “are a disaster. Complete horror. I don’t know, maybe I’ll be imprisoned or killed for these words, but I am speaking as it is.” He also claimed that he sent a letter to Putin stating that he was ready to “kneel” before him to stop the violence, adding that he no longer had any pride.
Denisov was the captain of Russia’s national team from 2012 to 2016 and scored in the 2008 UEFA Cup final for Zenit St. Petersburg. His critical remarks follow a similarly high-profile plea from top 10 tennis player ANDREY RUBLEV, who wrote “no war please” at the end of a match shortly after the invasion began in February.
— EVAN BAYH has been appointed to serve as a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. He previously served as a Democratic senator from Indiana.
— DONNA BRAZILE and JAMES COSTOS have been appointed to serve as members of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Brazile previously served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. Costos previously served as U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra.
— JULIE FISHER has been nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to Cyprus. She currently serves as the U.S. special envoy for Belarus.
— L. FELICE GORORDO has been nominated to serve as U.S. alternate executive director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He currently serves as CEO of eMerge Americas.
— JOHN HYTEN has been hired by Blue Origin, JEFF BEZOS’ rocket company, as executive director of its Club for the Future foundation. He’ll also act as a strategic adviser to the company’s leadership. The retired Air Force general previously served as vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
— FRANK MCKENZIE will lead the University of South Florida’s new Global and National Security Institute. The retired Marine Corps general previously served as commander of the U.S. Central Command.
— RADHA IYENGAR PLUMB has been nominated to serve as deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment. She currently serves as chief of staff to the deputy secretary of Defense.
— CHRISTOPHER ROBINSON has been nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to Latvia. He currently serves as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department.
— STEPHEN SCHNECK has been appointed to serve as commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He retired from the Catholic University of America in 2018, after more than 30 years as a professor, department chair and dean.
— STEPHANIE SANDERS SULLIVAN has been nominated to serve as U.S. representative to the African Union. She previously served as U.S. ambassador to Ghana.
— CULLEN MURPHY, The Atlantic: “The Chagossians Want Their Islands Back”
— ELISE LABOTT, POLITICO: “Biden Put Relations With Saudi Arabia on Ice. Then, He Saw an Opportunity.”
— MATT BURGESS, Wired: “Russia Is Taking Over Ukraine’s Internet”
— Billington CyberSecurity, 8 a.m.: “Cyber Priorities and the Federal Push to Zero Trust — with OMAR ALTALIB, THOMAS K. BILLINGTON, SCOTT FREDERICK, MATTHEW MCFADDEN, ERIC MILL and more”
— The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 9 a.m.: “Armchair Conversation with the Ambassador of Ukraine to the U.S. OKSANA MARKAROVA — with JOHN HAMRE and DANIEL RUNDE”
— House Appropriations Committee, 9 a.m.: “Subcommittee Markup: Fiscal Year 2023 Homeland Security Subcommittee Bill”
— House Foreign Affairs Committee, 9 a.m.: “Subcommittee Hearing: U.S. Efforts to Support European Energy Security — with HARRY KAMIAN, JAKE LEVINE and ANDREW LIGHT”
— The Atlantic Council, 9:30 a.m.: “The Transatlantic Partnership in Africa — with FREDERICK KEMPE, STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS, RITA LARANJINHA, MOLLY PHEE and RAMA YADE”
— The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 9:45 a.m.: “The Capital Cable: Korea-Japan Relations and Trilateral Cooperation — with VICTOR CHA, CHRISTOPHER B. JOHNSTONE, MARK LIPPERT and SUE MI TERRY”
— The Atlantic Council, 10 a.m.: “From Syria to Ukraine: Russia’s Continued Attacks on Healthcare in Conflict — with KAREEM CHEHAYEB, JOHN HERBST, CARMEN CHEUNG KA-MAN, PAVLO KOVTONIUK, AMANY QADDOUR and LEN RUBENSTEIN”
— The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 10 a.m.: “Distinguished Speakers Series: EVAN MEDEIROS on U.S.-China Competition — with PAUL HAENLE”
— The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 10 a.m.: “Assessing Russia’s War in Ukraine — with ELIOT A. COHEN, EMILY HARDING, SETH G. JONES and MICHAEL VICKERS”
— Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 10:15 a.m.: “Full Committee Hearing: Nominations — with TIMMY DAVIS, GEETA RAO GUPTA, MICHAEL ALAN RATNEY and TAMARA COFMAN WITTES”
— The Hudson Institute, 12 p.m.: “Regaining Decision Advantage: Overhauling JADC2 to Bolster U.S. Deterrence — with HERBERT ‘HAWK’ CARLISLE, BRYAN CLARK, DAN PATT, SCOTT SWIFT and ERIC WESLEY”
— The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, 12 p.m.: “How Much Is Enough? Reining in Runaway Pentagon Spending — with GORDON ADAMS, SHAILLY GUPTA BARNES, JULIA GLEDHILL and WILLIAM HARTUNG”
— The Atlantic Council, 1 p.m.: “A Conversation with Prime Minister of Lithuania INGRIDA ŠIMONYTĖ — with PAULA J. DOBRIANSKY and SUSAN GLASSER”
— The Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2:30 p.m.: “‘Never Trust, Always Verify’: Federal Migration to ZTA and Endpoint Security — with MICHAEL DANIEL, EMILY HARDING, JAMES ANDREW LEWIS, JEANETTE MANFRA and SUZANNE SPAULDING”
Have a natsec-centric event coming up? Transitioning to a new defense-adjacent or foreign policy-focused gig? Shoot us an email at [email protected] or [email protected] to be featured in the next edition of the newsletter.
And thanks to our editor, Ben Pauker, who’s looking forward to racking up some miles this summer, too.
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