Today’s D Brief: Zelenskyy visits E. Ukraine; Russian strikes hit Kyiv; UK sending MLRS; 15 missiles near Korea; And a bit more.


Ukraine’s president visited frontline troops in the eastern city of Lysychansk on Sunday. The city rests on the western banks of the Siverskyi Donets River—directly across from Severodonetsk, which Russian forces have been trying to seize with increasing intensity over the past two weeks. The Economist’s Oliver Carroll has video of President Volodymir Zelenskyy’s visit on Twitter, here.

Ukraine’s military launched a series of successful counterattacks in Severodonetsk this weekend, and gained a fair bit of ground before losing a little bit of it again by Monday. So far, Russia’s “superior artillery power has been of limited use in the close, urban combat” inside Severodonetsk, according to the Wall Street Journal. One observer said Ukraine’s east is starting to resemble the war in Yemen: “An over-equipped aggressor that can’t fight versus an under-equipped defender that can,” which he said is a “Recipe for incredible, immovable suffering.”

Russian strikes hit Kyiv on Sunday for the first time in five and a half weeks. Ukraine’s military said Russia’s navy launched five X-22 cruise missiles (also known as Kh-101 missiles) from the Caspian Sea, and allegedly four of them destroyed a train repair facility, as well as part of an apparent tank repair shop, the Associated Press reported Sunday. Just one of the missiles was shot down, according to Ukrainian officials. Other Russian missile strikes hit locations in eastern Ukraine, killing at least one person in the city of Druzhkivka. 

Vlad the invader threatened Ukraine with unspecified escalation again on Sunday, saying in a televised interview, ​​“All this fuss around additional deliveries of weapons [to Ukraine], in my opinion, has only one goal: to drag out the armed conflict as much as possible.” If Ukraine receives long-range rockets from allies—as is indeed reportedly in the works—then, Putin said, the Kremlin will “draw appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, which we have plenty of, in order to strike at those objects that we haven’t yet struck.” Reuters has more.

Russia’s 20-ship navy presence remains intent on blockading the Black Sea, which “hinders the resumption of maritime trade, including exports of Ukrainian grain,” the British military said Monday in its latest public battlefield update. Ukraine and the Brits are “looking for ways to avoid the food crisis and unblock ports,” President Zelenskyy tweeted Monday. Russia has also apparently reinforced its air defense elements on Ukraine’s Snake Island, which would seem to offer stronger protection after the sinking of Russia’s Black Sea flagship, Moskva, on April 14. 

New: The Brits will give Ukraine M270 multiple-launch rocket systems, the Defense Ministry announced Monday, saying this system “can strike targets up to 80 km away [or about 50 miles] with pinpoint accuracy.” It’s unclear just yet how many M270s will be on the way or when. 

“As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine,” British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said in a statement. “These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.”

For your eyes only: Catch a stark glimpse of what the battlefield looks like in the Donbas via these drone photos captured by Ukrainian troops and shared with Caleb Larson.

Crystal ball time: How might Russia’s tactics change in the days ahead? Retired three-star Army general Mark Hertling shared a 29-tweet thread this weekend spelling out his chief concerns at this roughly 100-day juncture. Summarizing crudely, Hertling writes that his gut tells him, “The fight today isn’t a stalemate and it’s not stalled…the Donbas fight is a slugfest, with [Russia] using artillery to set conditions they can’t follow up on.”

  • “Anyone suggesting appeasement of Putin’s illegal operation doesn’t understand him, his world view…or what he may do next,” Hertling warns, and then adds, “Anyone suggesting Ukraine give up any inch of their sovereign territory is violating our U.S. national values. But that’s just me.”

With Ukraine’s future on his mind, America’s top military officer visited Omaha Beach for the 78th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France, on Monday. “The fight in Ukraine is about honoring these veterans of World War II,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley said at the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer. “It’s about maintaining the so-called global rules-based international order that was established by the dead who are buried here at this cemetery.”

Milley met Friday with Finnish defense officials in Washington, including President Sauli Niinistö, Minister of Defense Antti Kaikkonen, and Chief of Defense Gen. Timo Kivinen. The four talked about Finland’s application to NATO, and, of course, the war in Ukraine, according to the Joint Staff.

Russia’s top diplomat says he was blocked from visiting Serbia on Monday due to flight bans from Montenegro, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia. Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was very upset over the snub, and lashed out Monday saying, “An unthinkable thing has happened. A sovereign state has been deprived of its right to conduct foreign policies.” 

Developing: Spain wants to send Ukraine air-defense missiles and German-made Leopard tanks, but it needs Berlin to okay that latter “re-export” first, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais, reporting Saturday. The Leopards have been “hibernating for a decade” in storage after their 1995 sale “as a prelude to the Leopard manufacturing contract in Spain.” Spain says training for Ukrainian forces could take place in Latvia, which is already hosting some 500 Spanish troops as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence program, triggered when Russia first invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Additional reading:

From Defense One

Flowers for Joyce // Lt. Col. Phoenix L. Torrijos: She has all these tools to help. Why doesn’t she feel helped?

Upcoming Summit Could Begin to Heal US-Latin America Ties // Gabriel Alvarado: Biden should propose a new era of broad pan-American cooperation.

DARPA’s ‘3rd Wave’ AI Aims to Compute Uncertainty Along with Accuracy // Alexandra Kelley: “Machine learning algorithms do not currently fit well into the modern statistical processing paradigm.”

Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Anduril’s ‘call to action;’ Another Boeing spox leaves; Palantir CEO in Kyiv; and more.

House Bill Would Allow Military to Perform, Fund Abortions // Jacqueline Feldscher: “Reproductive rights cannot and should not end when you put on our nation’s uniform,” Rep. Sara Jacobs said.

What the West Has Given Is Not Enough to Win, Ukraine Says // Kevin Baron: Central and Eastern European defense ministers say limited arms packages will not defeat Russia in the Donbas or deter invasion elsewhere.

The Army Brief: Doctrine double-check; Allied coordination; Hunger in military families; and more… // Caitlin M. Kenney: 

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1944, Operation Overlord began.

The U.S. and South Korean armies together fired seven missiles this weekend in an exercise designed to “demonstrate the ability” of the combined force “to respond quickly to crisis events,” United States Forces Korea announced. The exercise came just a few hours after North Korea test-fired eight ballistic missiles of its own over a 35 minute period Sunday, the Associated Press reported.
The missile launches followed a U.S.-South Korean combined naval exercise late last week, the first exercise involving an American aircraft carrier—in this case the USS Ronald Reagan—since 2017, the Associated Press reported separately Saturday.
From the region: An Australian P-8 was doing routine surveillance over the South China Sea last month when a Chinese fighter jet flew very close in what the Australian defense minister called a “very dangerous” incident, Australian media outlet 9 News reported Sunday. The Chinese intercept “posed a safety threat” to the P-8 and its crew, according to the Aussie defense ministry; Defence Minister Richard Marles said the jet released “small pieces of aluminum” and flares near the surveillance plane, as well as cutting across the P-8s nose and then flying very close in front of it.
Related: Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben “Sasse Calls for a ‘NATO for the Pacific’ to Deter Chinese Aggression,” via the National Review, reporting Thursday.

In just 10 days since the Uvalde school massacre, 20 more mass shootings led to the deaths of at least 19 people and 90 others who were injured, according to Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
And there were 10 more mass shootings across the U.S. over the weekend, including incidents in Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and South Carolina over the weekend, the New York Times reported Sunday.
The city of Chattanooga suffered two mass shootings in 8 days. The city’s mayor responded by calling for legislation to curb access to weapons—including stronger background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines. “I’m not trying to take away anybody’s Second Amendment rights,” he said. “But I think we can agree that there are common sense approaches here…It is a law enforcement problem, it’s also a problem with access to guns.”
For the record: “There have been 246 mass shootings in the country to date in 2022,” CNN reports, citing data from the Gun Violence Archive.
Related reading: 

And lastly: That former Air Force “Boogaloo” extremist was just sentenced for 41 years in prison for killing a federal guard in Oakland at the height of George Floyd protests, in late-May 2020. Air Force Sgt. Steven Carrillo pleaded guilty to the charges in February, which included “one count of using a firearm in a crime of violence resulting in death, and one count of attempted murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the government,” according to Courthouse News.
“You have failed at being human,” his sister reportedly said to his face in court. “You have disgraced and failed your family. You have brought shame to the uniform you are supposed to represent.”
Carillo says he was part of an anti-government group called the Grizzly Scouts. “A spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department has said the Grizzly Scouts and Boogaloo Boy groups are new extremist groups identified in Alameda County, and federal prosecutors say the Grizzly Scouts organized a small militia in spring 2020 with the goal to attack law enforcement,” Courthouse News writes. More here.
Related reading:A U.S. murder suspect fled to Mexico. The Gringo Hunters were waiting,” via the Washington Post’s Kevin Sieff, reporting Friday from Ensenada.

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