‘ANEMIC, TEPID, UNEVEN, RISK AVERSE’: The Pentagon is describing Russia’s halting in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas provinces as making “minimal progress at best,” with “minor gains” east of the northern cities of Izyum and Popasna, only to give ground back in the face of fierce Ukrainian counterattacks.

“What we saw there in Popasna is not unlike what we've seen in other hamlets in the Donbas. They'll move in and then declare victory, and then withdraw their troops, only to let the Ukrainians take it back,” a senior defense official told reporters yesterday. “So, very, very cautious, very tepid, very uneven work by them on the ground, and in some cases, quite frankly, the best word to describe it would be ‘anemic.’”

In the past few days, Ukrainian forces succeeded in pushing Russian troops farther away from the northern city of Kharkiv, once Ukraine's second largest. “They have managed to push the Russians out about 40 kilometers to the east of Kharkiv,” the official said, which is beyond the range of many artillery systems. “They're pushing them back, so back into areas of the northern Donbas region, but away from Kharkiv, so an incredible effort there.”

“They're still suffering from poor command-and-control, low morale in many units, less-than-ideal logistics,” the official said. “They still have not solved all their logistics problems, and quite frankly, there's a casualty aversion, a risk and casualty aversion that we continue to see by the Russians now, not just in the air, but on the ground.”


RUSSIA TO ANNEX TERRITORY AS FIGHTING STILL RAGES: Desperate to declare success before next Monday’s World War II Victory Day celebration in Moscow, Russia is planning to declare domain over all the Donbas, based on what the U.S. says would be sham elections.

“We believe that the Kremlin may try to hold sham referenda to try to add a veneer of democratic or electoral legitimacy, and this is straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook,” said Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“According to the most recent reports, we believe that Russia will try to annex the Donetsk ‘people’s republic’ and Luhansk ‘people’s republic,’ in quotes, so-called, to Russia,” Carpenter said at a State Department briefing. “The reports state that Russia has plans to engineer referenda on joining Russia some time in mid-May, and that Moscow is considering a similar plan for Kherson.”

“Now, the international community, including the OSCE, where I work as ambassador, has been very clear that such referenda, such sham referenda, fabricated votes, will not be considered legitimate, nor will any attempts to annex additional Ukrainian territory,” Carpenter said.


WILL PUTIN DECLARE WAR? Another school of thought is that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use the May 9 Victory Day commemoration to drop the pretense that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — now in its third month — is not simply a “special military operation” but all-out war.

A declaration of war would be a prelude to a full mobilization of Russia's reserve forces, which are needed to replace the heavy casualties suffered by Russian forces, which by the Pentagon’s estimate, have lost 25% of their combat capability since the start of the war.

"I think he will try to move from his 'special operation,’” U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Britain’s LBC Radio last Friday. "He's been rolling the pitch, laying the ground for being able to say, 'look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people. I need more Russian cannon fodder.'"

“He is probably going to declare on May Day that ‘we are now at war with the world's Nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people,’ Wallace said. “Putin, having failed in nearly all objectives, may seek to consolidate what he's got.”

“I can’t anticipate what President Putin’s going to do on May 9th,” said OSCE ambassador Carpenter. “I know that so far the military campaign has been an abject failure, and the monstrosity and the barbarity of Russia’s assault is plain for all to see.”


Good Tuesday 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 Victor I. Nava. 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 us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: President Joe Biden departs Washington at 11 a.m. for Troy, Alabama, to tour a Lockheed Martin facility that manufactures weapon systems, including the shoulder-fired Javelin tank-busting missiles that have been used so effectively by Ukraine to destroy hundreds of Russian tanks..

At 2 p.m., Biden will deliver remarks at Lockheed Martin's Pike County Operations facility, again urging Congress to act quickly to pass the $33 billion aid package, which would provide Ukraine and U.S. allies military and economic assistance for the next five month.

“The president will deliver remarks highlighting his request to Congress to pass funding quickly to help Ukraine continue to succeed against Russian aggression and make sure the United States and our allies can replenish our own stocks of weapons to replace what we have sent to Ukraine,” said the White House.

US NEEDS MORE JAVELINS, TOO: So far, the U.S. has sent more than 5,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine that have come from the Pentagon’s own stocks, which will need to be replaced. And last week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of replacements.

“The cupboard is empty or it will be very, very shortly unless the president invokes the Defense Production Act to provide that demand signal on an expedited basis,” said Blumenthal at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on America’s defense industrial base.

“To ramp up from the U.S. military's current buy of about 1,000 missiles per year to maximum production of the Javelins would take about one year,” Blumenthal said, “and replenishing U.S. stocks of those weapons would require 32 months.”

“It's not about just how many of these you have on the shelf; it's what your readiness is for the capability,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, when asked about Blumenthal’s concerns at yesterday’s briefing. “Javelin is an anti-armor capability. We judge it all as a conglomerate of what's our ability to meet this particular mission set, realizing that a Javelin isn't the only capability you have against armor.”

“With every drawdown package, we make an assessment about the impact on our readiness. And what I can tell you is that thus far, we have not seen any negative impact on our ability to defend this nation across a range of military capabilities,” he said. “But that is not something we take lightly.”


PUTIN UNDER THE KNIFE? The Pentagon says it has no intelligence to corroborate recent reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin may soon undergo surgery for an unspecified cancer. The rumor surfaced a few days ago on the Telegram channel General SVR, which says its source is a “well-placed figure in the Kremlin.”

“I have seen nothing that could help us corroborate that. No. Afraid not,” said Kirby when asked about the report.


LAVROV: ‘HITLER HAD JEWISH BLOOD, TOO’: In an attempt to justify the war in Ukraine as a campaign against Nazis, Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told an Italian television network that the fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish is irrelevant.

“His argument is: How can there be Nazism in Ukraine if he is a Jew? I may be mistaken but Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood, too. This means absolutely nothing,” Lavrov said. “The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews. ‘Every family has its black sheep,’ as we say.”

ZELENSKY: ‘NO WORDS’: That provoked a furious response from Zelensky in his nightly video address to his people. “Russia's foreign minister openly and without hesitation said that the biggest anti-Semites were allegedly among the Jews themselves. And that Hitler allegedly had Jewish blood,” Zelensky said.

“How could this be said on the eve of the anniversary of the victory over Nazism? These words mean that Russia's top diplomat is blaming the Jewish people for Nazi crimes. No words.”

MORE BELLICOSE NUCLEAR TALK FROM KIM JONG UN: There’s very little talk these days coming out of Pyongyang about denuclearization, instead there has been a steady stream of belligerent rhetoric from Kim Jong Un.

The North Korean leader was quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency as telling his senior military officers that they may consider the preemptive use of nuclear weapons if the country is threatened, saying, “overwhelming military muscle that no force in the world can provoke, is the lifeline guaranteeing the security of our country.”

“Expressing the Party Central Committee’s firm will to surely maintain the absolute superiority of the revolutionary armed forces and constantly develop them to preemptively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from hostile forces, if necessary,” KCNA reported Kim told military officials in a speech praising massive military parade in the capital.

AUSTIN TICE: The White House announced yesterday that Biden met privately yesterday with Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of Austin Tice, who has spent almost a decade in captivity in Syria.

“During their meeting, the President reiterated his commitment to continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin’s long overdue return to his family,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Today’s meeting built on multiple meetings and conversations between the Tice family and the president’s national security team, which will remain in regular contact with the Tices and other families of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad.”

“The president further emphasized that his administration will work relentlessly until Austin and other Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained worldwide are safely at home with their loved ones,” Psaki said.

The meeting with the Tices followed last week's successful prisoner swap that freed former Marine Trevor Reed from captivity in Russia.

PENTAGON TOURS RESUME: Flanked by uniformed guides from military ceremonial units representing five branches of the military, including the Coast Guard, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby announced the resumption of Pentagon tours that were canceled in March of 2020 because of the pandemic.

“I'm pleased to announce that on the 10th of May, the Pentagon will reopen tours on a limited basis,” said Kirby, standing on a step ladder so he would not be overshadowed by the much taller members of the military.

“You may have seen them all throughout the hallway, preparing for quite some time here to showcase the more than 30 exhibits that provide the history and the accomplishments of the U.S. armed forces and the Department of Defense,” said Kirby. “So, the tours are going to be conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.”

Tours can be requested at https://www.defense.gov/Pentagon-Tours/Request-A-Tour/


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Russia to hold 'sham' referendum on Donetsk and Luhansk regions, ambassador says

Washington Examiner: Russian military’s 'casualty aversion’ leading to ‘anemic’ gains, Pentagon says

Washington Examiner: Ukrainian resistance has continued to push Russian troops further from Kharkiv

Washington Examiner: Former top NATO commander calls for US ‘permanent presence’ in eastern flank

Washington Examiner: An updated look at Russia's military capabilities 10 weeks into Ukraine war

Washington Examiner: White House says no 'proxy war' with Russia in Ukraine

Washington Examiner: US unable to confirm Putin planning power transfer for cancer treatment

Washington Examiner: Biden rolls out $3 billion plan to end US reliance on China for lithium batteries

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Russia's nuclear rhetoric has a reality problem

Washington Examiner: Jan. 6 committee asks three recalcitrant House Republicans to testify

Washington Examiner: White House says DHS tracking 42 terrorists, proving 'the system working'

Wall Street Journal: Drones, Missiles Take Toll In Heavy Fighting

Reuters: Ukraine Formally Closes Seaports Captured By Russia

Reuters: Taiwan Considers Alternatives After U.S. Informs Of Howitzer Delay

Air Force Magazine: Kendall: USAF to Discard 386-Squadrons Goal, Skip Demo Phase for New Autonomous Aircraft

19fortyfive.com: The U.S. Air Force Has a Fighter Gap Problem

19fortyfive.com: NGAD 6th Generation Stealth Fighter: Completely Unaffordable?

Military.com: Marine General Used 'Full N-Word' in Rant That Led to His Ouster from European Command Post

Task & Purpose: Marine Intel Instructors Got Caught Calling Students ‘Whore’ And ‘Slut’ In Private Chat. No Punishment Was Recommended

Air Force Magazine: ‘Challenge the Status Quo’: Top Airman Calls for More Diversity in Aviation While Visiting HBCU

Navy Times: Report: Hundreds of USS George Washington sailors living aboard ship to be moved off

USNI News: Carrier USS George Washington Mid-Life Overhaul Will Extend into 2023

Task & Purpose: Why The Chinese Military Wants Thousands Of ‘Made-To-Order’ Noncommissioned Officers

The Drive: VH-92 Closer To Being ‘Marine One’ But Comms System Could Still Cause Delays

Air Force Magazine: Tyndall and Offutt Rebuilds Need More Funds; Projected End Date in 2027-’28



6:30 a.m. London, England — Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit: "Russia, Ukraine and the New World Order,” with U.K. Defense Staff Chief Adm. Tony Radakin https://ceocouncil.wsj.com/event/ceo-council-summit

10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “The Spear and the Shield? Japan's Defense Strategy Trajectory," with former Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera; former Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahisa Sato; and Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Asia-Pacific studies at the Council on Foreign Relations https://www.csis.org/events/spear-and-shield

11 a.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion: “World Press Freedom,” with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and TV Rain journalists Tikhon Dzyadko and Ekaterina Kotrikadze https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live/2022/05/03/world-press-freedom/

11 a.m. — Arms Control Association, the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, and the Princeton University Program on Science and Global Security virtual discussion: “The Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons and Russia's War on Ukraine: Meeting the Legal and Political Challenge," with Ariana Smith, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy; Zia Mian, co-director of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security; John Burroughs, senior analyst at the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy; Daryl Kimball, ACA executive director; and Alexander Kmentt, director of disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation at the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://www.armscontrol.org/events/2022-04/threat-use-nuclear-weapons


8 a.m. 901 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. — Economic Club of Washington, D.C. discussion with Kathy Warden, chair, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman Corporation. https://www.economicclub.org/events/kathy-warden

8:30 a.m. 2900 K St. N.W. — National Defense Industrial Association U.S.-Sweden Defense Industry Conference: “The Return of Great Power Competition," with Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter; Swedish Ministry of Defense State Secretary J.O. Lind; and Michael Vaccaro, principal deputy assistant secretary for defense industrial base policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, https://www.ndia.org/events/2022/5/4/18th-us-sweden-defense-industry-conference

10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Force Design 2030 and Marine Corps Modernization Efforts," with Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, commanding general at Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and retired navy Vice Adm. Peter Daly, CEO and publisher at the U.S. Naval Institute https://www.csis.org/events/maritime-security-dialogue

11 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “China's Discourse Power Operations in the Global South," with Paul Nantulya, research associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies; Dawn Murphy, associate professor of international security at the Air War College; Kenton Thibaut, resident China fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab; and Pepe Zhang, associate director at the Atlantic Council's Latin America Center https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event/report-launch

12 p.m. — Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress virtual event: “Russia’s Politics, Propaganda and Memory,” with Jade McGlynn, senior researcher, Monterey Initiative; Ben Noble, associate fellow, Chatham House https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register

2 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual "Civics at Work" launch event, focusing on civic education as a national security imperative, with Brad Smith, president and vice chair of Microsoft; Tom Fanning, president and CEO of the Southern Company; Teresa Hutson, vice president of tech and corporate responsibility at Microsoft; Michael Carney, senior vice president of emerging issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation; and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center https://www.csis.org/events/civics-work-launch-event

2:30 p.m. 562 Dirksen — Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing: “Russian War Crimes in Ukraine," with U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack; Ukraine Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova; Wolfgang Benedek, emeritus university professor of public international law at the University of Graz; Veronika Bilkova, associate professor and faculty of law at Charles University in Prague; Marco Sassoli, international law professor at the University of Geneva; and Timothy Snyder, history professor at Yale University and permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna Livestream at https://www.youtube.com/user/HelsinkiCommission

6 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Australia's Election: Foreign Policy and National Security Implications," with Amelia Adams, senior U.S. correspondent at Nine Network Australia; Peter Hartcher, political editor and international editor at the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age; and Stan Grant, ABC international affairs analyst and host of "China Tonight" https://www.csis.org/events/australias-election-foreign-policy


9:30 a.m. — Brookings Institution virtual discussion: “U.S. Grand Strategy Under President Biden and Beyond," with panels on "The Biden Administration's National Security Agenda,” and "Future National Security Challenges" https://connect.brookings.edu/register

9:30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Ukraine's Impact on Asia and Korea," with former South Korean Ambassador to Russia Wi Sung-lac; and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, director of Stanford University's Institute for International Studies https://www.csis.org/events/capital-cable-47-ukraines-impact-asia-and-korea

11 a.m. — Washington Post Live virtual discussion with Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter on "the growing public support in her country to join NATO" and rising tensions between her country and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live

12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual discussion: “National Security Presidential Memorandum-13 (NSPM-13) and the Future of Cyber Warfare," with Alexei Bulazel, cyber policy expert at the Alumnus, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Computer Security Team; J.D. Work, professor at the National Defense University; Joshua Steinman, CEO and co-founder of Galvanick; and Ezra Cohen, adjunct fellow at Hudson https://www.hudson.org/events/2109-virtual-event

1 p.m. — Nextgov, Defense One and Route Fifty virtual discussion: “Cyber Defenders: Part Two, The Road Ahead," with Steven Hernandez, chief information security officer and director of information assurance services at the Education Department; https://events.nextgov.com/cyber-defenders-part-two

2:30 p.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “The national security implications of small satellites," with Alan Pellegrini, CEO at Thales North America; Nicholas Eftimiades, professor at the Penn State University Homeland Security Program; Paula Trimble, policy chief and legislative affairs director at the Defense Department's Space Development Agency; Bleddyn Bowen, associate professor at the University of Leicester; Paul Graziani, CEO and co-founder at Analytical Graphics Inc.; Sandra Erwin, senior staff writer at SpaceNews; and Frederick Kempe, president and CEO at the Atlantic Council https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/event

1 p.m. — SETA Foundation at Washington D.C. virtual discussion: “Can the Western Policy Help Ukraine Achieve Victory?” with Steven Pifer, nonresident senior fellow, Brookings Institution; Kathryn Stoner, senior fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University; Kilic Kanat, research director, SETA Foundation; and moderator Kadir Ustun, executive director, SETA Foundation https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register

3 p.m. 2121 K St. N.W. — International Institute for Strategic Studies roundtable discussion: “America's Defense Trade," with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security Mira Resnick; and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade Mike Miller https://www.iiss.org/events/2022/05/defense-trade-roundtable

4 p.m. — Woodrow Wilson Center Polar Institute virtual discussion: “Nordic Security Perspectives in the Arctic," with Norwegian Ambassador to the U.S. Anniken Ramberg Krutnes; Danish Ambassador to the U.S. Lone Dencker Wisborg; and Michael Sfraga, chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and the WWC Polar Institute https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/nordic-security-perspectives-arctic

7 p.m. — Council for a Livable World virtual discussion, “Nuclear Justice and the Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons," with Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif.,https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register

7:30 p.m. — Stanford University Institute for International Studies Sidney Drell Lecture: “The President's Nuclear Button," with Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif. https://fsi.stanford.edu/events/presidents-nuclear-button


4 a.m. Florence, Italy — Woodrow Wilson Center Global Europe Program virtual conference: “The State of the Union: A Europe Fit for the Next Generation?" with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/state-union-europe-fit-next-generation


President Joe Biden will welcome Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy to the White House on May 10, 2022. The visit will reaffirm the deep bonds of friendship and strong partnership between the U.S. and Italy. The leaders will discuss their ongoing coordination with Allies and partners on measures to support of the people of Ukraine and to impose economic costs on Russia for its unprovoked aggression. They will discuss our close cooperation on promoting global economic prosperity, increasing Europe’s energy security, and combatting climate change. They will also exchange views on regional and global security issues, as well as preparations for the G7 and NATO summits in June.

9 a.m. 901 17th St. N.W. — American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security breakfast program: “In Ukraine, There are No Quick Fixes,” with John Erath, former member of the National Security Council and current senior policy director for the nonprofit Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Register with Jennifer Kildee Jennifer.Kildee@americanbar.org

3 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. — American Enterprise Institute in-persson event: “The Future of U.S. National Security Policy,” with Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc; and Colin Dueck, nonresident senior fellow, AEI https://www.aei.org/events/a-conversation-with-rep-mike-gallagher


"I think he will try to move from his 'special operation.' He's been rolling the pitch, laying the ground for being able to say 'look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people. I need more Russian cannon fodder.'"

U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace in an interview with Britain’s LBC Radio predicting Russian President Vladimir Putin will formally declare war on Ukraine on May 9.