Austin adamant Ukraine not use US weapons to attack Russia: ‘Focus ought to be on the close fight’

‘FOCUS OUGHT TO BE ON THE CLOSE FIGHT’: As Russia advances in northeastern Ukraine while leveling villages with glide bombs launched from aircraft operating with impunity from across the border, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is growing increasingly frustrated by the Biden administration’s ban on using U.S. weapons to target the bombers in Russian air space.

At yesterday’s Pentagon briefing, which followed a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was pressed on a question by Fox News Chief National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin, who cited comments on ABC News on Sunday by former Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland.

“She said, quote, ‘I think if the attacks are coming directly from over the line in Russia, that those bases ought to be fair game. I think it’s time to give the Ukrainians more help hitting these bases inside Russia.’ Do you agree with her assessment?” Griffin asked.

Austin replied his position on the ban has not and will not change. “We’ve been that way throughout, and you know, that’ll be my view going forward,” he said. “In my view, their focus ought to be on the close fight and making sure that they’re servicing those targets that will enable success in the close fight.”

Standing beside Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. seemed to concede that maybe there was some nuance in the case of Russian warplanes launching standoff bombs from just over the border. “The aerial dynamic’s a little bit different. … But again, don’t want to speculate on anyone or any type of engagement here at the podium. … Our expectation is that they continue to use the weapons that we’ve provided on targets inside of Ukraine.”

ZELENSKY: ‘EVERY DECISION IS LATE BY AROUND ONE YEAR’: In the latest of what seems to be almost daily interviews with major news organizations, Zelensky vented about how vital Western aid is, as well as how it always seems to come too late.

“Every decision to which we, then later everyone together, comes to is late by around one year,” Zelenskiy, told Reuters yesterday. “It is what it is: one big step forward but before that two steps back. So we need to change the paradigm a little bit.”

If the United States won’t allow Ukraine to target Russian planes while they’re in Russian airspace, then he suggested Western nations use their superior airpower to knock Russian missiles out of the sky, as they did when Iran attacked Israel last month.

But so far, all of Zelensky’s pleas have fallen on deaf ears. “So far, there is nothing positive,” he told Reuters, adding he has no choice but to adhere to the maddening restrictions that tie the hands of his forces. “We can’t put the whole volume of weapons at risk.”

FRUSTRATION BUILDS IN CONGRESS: A bipartisan group of House members, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH), ranking member Jim Himes (D-CT), and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), fired off a letter to Austin urging the Pentagon to lift the ban and expedite additional resources to Ukraine.

“After meeting with a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians, the congressional lawmakers emphasized that in order for Ukraine to better defend itself against Russia, the United States should authorize the use of weapons by Ukraine that would allow its military to strike strategic targets within Russia, train additional Ukrainian F-16 pilots, and bolster Ukraine’s air defense systems,” the group of six Republicans and seven Democrats said.

“Ukrainians have been unable to defend themselves due to the Administration’s current policy. It is essential the Biden Administration allows Ukraine’s military leaders an ability to conduct a full spectrum of operations necessary to respond to Russia’s unprovoked attack on their sovereign land,” they added in the letter. “We ask that you work with us to expedite resources as our friends in Ukraine continue to defend their territory against Russia’s brutal assault and aggression.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Jason Crow (D-CO), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), French Hill (R-AR), Austin Scott (R-GA), and Andre Carson (D-IN).


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 Stacey Dec. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at 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


HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Finnish Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen at 11 a.m. 

TODAY ON THE HILL: Also this morning John Hill, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space and missile defense; Frank Calvelli, assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration; and Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. Michael Guetlein appear before the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee at 9:30 a.m. to discuss Department of Defense space activities.

And at 10 a.m., Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army chief of staff Gen. Randy George testify before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on the Army’s 2025 budget.

BIDEN: ICC WARRANT REQUEST ‘OUTRAGEOUS’: President Joe Biden was quick to weigh in on the effort by a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court to obtain arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant accusing them of war crimes, along with three Hamas leaders: Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh.

“The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. “And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

“The outrageous decision by the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, to seek arrest warrants against the democratically elected leaders of Israel is a moral outrage of historic proportions. It will cast an everlasting mark of shame on the international court,” Netanyahu said in an angry reaction posted on his Facebook page.

“Israel is waging a just war against Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization that perpetrated the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Hamas massacred 1,200 Jews, raped Jewish women, burned Jewish babies, took hundreds hostage,” Netanyahu said. “This is like creating a moral equivalence after Sept. 11 between President Bush and Osama Bin Laden or during World War II between FDR and Hitler. What a travesty of justice! What a disgrace!”


‘A SLAP IN THE FACE’: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took to social media to condemn the ICC’s action as “a slap in the face to the independent judiciary in Israel, which is renowned for their independence.”

“We must not forget as a nation the International Criminal Court threatened to bring action against American forces in Afghanistan — and we are a non-member,” Graham wrote. “I will be issuing a detailed statement regarding the outrageous actions by the ICC against the State of Israel and I will feverishly work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to levy damning sanctions against the ICC.”

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) led a bipartisan letter to Biden urging him to respond “swiftly and strongly” should the ICC move forward with arrest warrants. 

“It is outrageous that the ICC would make a political calculus to target Israel, which only further undermines the Court’s legitimacy and undercuts efforts to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” the senators wrote. “Under the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002, the President is granted broad authorities to respond to these types of actions by the ICC, and we urge you to fully implement the law should the Court move forward with action against Israel.”

Joining Rubio and Rosen were Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).


PENTAGON CONTINUES TO WORK WITH ICC: The outrage over the ICC’s equating Israel’s war against Hamas with the horrific murder, torture, and rape carried out by brutal Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 comes as the Pentagon is cooperating with the ICC as it investigates atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine.

“Regarding the question of whether or not we’ll continue to provide support to the ICC with respect to crimes committed in Ukraine, yes, we continue that work,” Austin said yesterday while declining further comment.

But in a teleconference for reporters yesterday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby insisted there is no comparison between the two cases. “While we aren’t a member of a party to the ICC, we had committed and will stay committed to helping Ukraine as they document evidence for a range of international bodies, not just the ICC but a range of international bodies, to investigate, document claims of war crimes by Russia.”

“I would remind everybody that it is an actual war aim of Mr. Putin to kill innocent Ukrainian people. I mean, he’s deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure with the aim of killing innocent civilians. And it’s baked into his operational strategy,” Kirby said. “We continue to talk to the Israelis about being more discriminative, more targeted, more precise. … But IDF soldiers are not waking up in the morning, putting their boots on the ground, with direct orders to go kill innocent civilians in Gaza.”

“We don’t believe the ICC has any jurisdiction here with respect to what’s going on in Gaza. And I’ll leave it at that,” he said.


SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS: The news that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday was noted in a State Department statement offering “official condolences” from the United States for his death along with those of Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other members of the delegation.

The condolences for the man who was reviled by many Iranians and “the butcher of Tehran” for his role in ordering the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 seemed to many as misplaced. “From his support of international terrorism, mass murders of the Iranian people, and other human right abuses, the world won’t soon forget Raisi’s atrocities,” Rubio said. “Raisi subjugated the Iranian people to years of repression and left behind a reign of terror.”

“Offering a condolences is a typical practice,” Kirby said in defending the State Department response. “President Raisi, he was responsible for atrocious human rights in his own country, the arrest and the physical violence against hundreds of protesters. … No question, this was a man who had a lot of blood on his hands.”

“That said, as we in any other case, we certainly regret, in general, the loss of life and offered official condolences as appropriate,” Kirby said.



Washington Examiner: ICC seeks Israel arrest warrants: What does it mean and what happens next?

Washington Examiner: Biden pushes back against ICC allegations against Israel: ‘What’s happening is not genocide’

Washington Examiner: Lawmakers outraged at ICC pursuit of arrest warrants for Israeli leaders

Washington Examiner: Israeli officials blast ICC pursuit of arrest warrants for Netanyahu

Washington Examiner: Can Hamas be killed? Northern Gaza fighting lays bare Israel’s problem

Washington Examiner: US ‘condolences’ for Iran’s Raisi prompt outrage

Washington Examiner: Iran ‘asked for assistance’ in wake of Raisi helicopter crash, US says

Washington Examiner: Opinion: The Biden administration should have ignored Raisi’s death rather than memorialize him

Washington Examiner: Spy games: China cries foul over space espionage

Washington Examiner: Border officials to encounter 10 million migrants under Biden by September: Green

Washington Examiner: Mike Johnson says failed border deal ‘dead on arrival’ in the House

AP: France and Belgium support ICC request for arrest warrants of Israel and Hamas leaders

Reuters: Gaza Aid Piles Up In Egypt, U.S. Pier Delivery Falters

Politico: Biden’s Top Military Adviser Chides Israel For Losing Ground To Hamas

AP: Pentagon Vows To Keep Weapons Moving To Ukraine As Kyiv Faces A Renewed Assault By Russia

Reuters: Ukraine controls 60% of Kharkiv border town after Russian raids, Kyiv says

Washington Post: General Says He Warned That Afghanistan Would Get ‘Very Bad, Very Fast’

Wall Street Journal: Iran Wrestles With Succession After President Dies In Crash

Air & Space Forces Magazine: USSF Places Bet on ‘Jetpack’ to Give Aging Satellites New Life

SpaceNews: Space Force Plans Deep-Dive Study on Pros and Cons of Orbital Refueling

Defense One: ‘Fast Movers’: Meet the Chinese Satellites That Zoom Around for Inspections—or Interference

Aviation Week: Aurora Reveals Refined Concept for DARPA’s High-Speed VTOL X-Plane

Breaking Defense: Pentagon Should Streamline Software Adoption with More Testing Enclaves, Experts Urge

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Decommissioned Missile Sites Likely Had Hazardous Chemicals, AFGSC Says Space Force Guardian Identified as Missing Hiker Who Died in Rocky Mountain National Park

Air & Space Forces Magazine: ‘We Love You’: Hundreds of Airmen Pay Tribute To SrA Roger Fortson at Hurlburt

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Distinguished Flying Crosses Awarded for 2 in 2010 Fatal Crash

Air & Space Forces Magazine: Bud Anderson, WWII Triple Ace and Air Force Test Pilot, Dies at 102

AP: Ed Dwight, America’s First Black Astronaut Candidate, Finally Goes to Space 60 Years Later

The Cipher Brief: Russian Gains, U.S. Aid, Kremlin Shakeup: State of the Ukraine War

The Cipher Brief: What the Death of Iran’s President Could Mean for Tehran and the Region

The Cipher Brief: Xi and Putin: Diplomacy and Lessons Learned

The Cipher Brief: The UN Cybercrime Convention is Digital Solidarity’s First Real Test



7:15 a.m. 2425 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia — Association of the U.S. Army discussion: “Linking resources to defense strategy and Army plans,” with Army Deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Karl Gingrich

8 a.m. 2520 Wasser Terr., Herndon, Virginia — Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Northern Virginia Chapter DOD Enterprise IT Day forum: “Harnessing Innovation for Combat Readiness.” with Pentagon Chief Information Officer John Sherman; Army Undersecretary Gabriel Camarillo; Navy Chief Information Officer Jane Rathbun; and Margaret Boatner, deputy assistant Army secretary for strategy and acquisition reform

9:30 a.m. 222 Russell — Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing: “Defense Department Space Activities in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2025 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with testimony from John Hill, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space and missile defense; Frank Calvelli, assistant Air Force secretary for space acquisition and integration; and Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. Michael Guetlein

10 a.m. 192 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee hearing: “A Review of the President’s FY2025 Budget Request for the Army,” with testimony from Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army chief of staff Gen. Randy George

10 a.m. 7596 Colshire Dr., McLean, Virginia — German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and MITRE discussion: “Taiwan Dynamics in this Decisive Decade,” with retired Rear Adm. Mike Studeman, Mitre national security fellow and former commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence; Margaret Stromecki, lead of the Mitre National Security Sector’s Counter-PRC Cell; and Bonnie Glaser, director of the GMFUS Indo-Pacific

10:30 a.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing: “American Diplomacy and Global Leadership: Review of the FY2025 State Department Budget Request,” with testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken

10:30 a.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Schriever Spacepower Series with Lt Gen Philip Garrant, commander, Space Systems Command

11 a.m. — Asia Society Policy Institute virtual discussion: “Rapid Reactions to the Taiwan Presidential Inauguration,” with Simona Grano, senior fellow on Taiwan, Asia Society’s Center for China Analysis; Rorry Daniels, senior fellow, Asia Society’s Center for China Analysis; and Lyle Morris, senior fellow, Asia Society’s Center for China Analysis

12:30 p.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council conference: “The Washington NATO Summit: Ukraine and trans-Atlantic security.”

2:30 p.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing: “A Review of the President’s FY2025 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of State,” with testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken

3 p.m. 1155 15th St. NW — Inter-American Dialogue discussion: “Chile’s Foreign Policy,” with Chilean Undersecretary of Foreign Relations Gloria de la Fuente


8 a.m. 3111 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church, Virginia — Potomac Officers Club 2024 5G Forum, with Kevin Mulvihill, acting deputy chief information officer for command, control, and communications in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

8:15 a.m. 2121 Crystal Dr. Arlington, Virginia — National Defense Industrial Association Integrated Precision Warfare Review conference: “National Defense Industrial Strategy, Balancing Capacity, and Capability: Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S. Industrial Base,” with Anthony Di Stasio, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy

9 a.m. 2172 Rayburn — House Foreign Affairs Committee markup of legislation to provide for congressional oversight of proposed changes to arms sales to Israel

10 a.m. 192 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee hearing: “A Review of the President’s FY2025 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Energy, including the National Nuclear Security Administration,” with testimony from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Jill Hruby, energy undersecretary for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration

10 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW — Atlantic Council discussion: “How U.S. Forces are Readying for New Global Threats,” with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.; Michael Andersson, head of strategic affairs and international affairs at Saab; and Courtney Kube, NBC News national security and military correspondent

10 a.m. 2359 Rayburn — House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing: “FY2025 Request for the Department of State,” with testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken

10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies in-person and virtual discussion: “The Next Generation of National Security Leaders: A Conversation with Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro,” with retired Marine Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, former staff director, Senate Armed Service Committee; former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman; former Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, former vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; retired Gen. Jim Jones, former Marine Corps commandant, supreme allied commander, Europe, and national security adviser; and moderator Jennifer Griffin, chief national security correspondent, Fox News

12 p.m. 14th and F Sts. NW — Friends of the Uniformed Services University discussion: “Imagining Combat Without Military Medicine: What Would That Look Like?” with retired Army Gen. Ronald Blanck, former Army surgeon general; former Army Maj. Gen. Jonathan Woodson, president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs; Carol Romano, USUHS dean and president of the USUHS’s Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing; retired Army Gen. Richard Thomas, associate vice president and dean of the West Virginia University School of Medicine’s Eastern Division and chief medical officer for WVU Medicine Berkeley and Jefferson medical centers; and retired Navy Command Master Sgt. Tyrone Willis, senior enlisted leader and a recruitment specialist, Uniformed Services University. RSVP [email protected] 

1:30 p.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW — Henry Stimson Center discussion: “The World’s Hotspots and Implications for the Future of the International Order,” with Kunihiko Miyake, president of the Foreign Policy Institute, and David Shear, senior fellow, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies’s Reischauer Center

1:30 p.m. — Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program virtual Winston Churchill Lecture to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Winston Churchill, with Nicholas Soames, grandson of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

2 p.m. 2172 Rayburn — House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing: “The State of American Diplomacy in 2024: Global Instability, Budget Challenges, and Great Power Competition,” with testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken

4 p.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “The Dangers of National Security Weakness,” with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

4:45 p.m. 222 Russell — Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing: “The Department of Energy’s Atomic Energy Defense Activities and Department of Defense Nuclear Weapons Programs in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2025 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with testimony from National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Jill Hruby; William White, Energy Department senior adviser for environmental management; Navy Adm. William Houston, deputy administrator for the Office of Naval Reactors, National Nuclear Security Administration; Marvin Adams, deputy administrator for defense programs, National Nuclear Security Administration; Air Force Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command; and Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director for strategic systems programs in the Department of the Navy


9 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “The Senate Perspective on the U.S.-China Rivalry,” with Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Roslyn Layton, senior fellow, George Mason University National Security Institute

9 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion, beginning at 9 a.m., on “Where Does the U.S. Go from Here — Gaza: The Human Toll,” with David Satterfield, senior State Department adviser on the Middle East; Nick Schifrin, PBS NewsHour foreign affairs and defense correspondent; Jon Alterman, director of the CSIS Middle East Program; Michelle Strucke, director of the CSIS Humanitarian Agenda and Human Rights Initiative; and J. Stephen Morrison, director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center

10 a.m. 2359 Rayburn — House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing: “FY2025 Request for the U.N.,” with testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield

10 a.m. — Foreign Policy and International Community of the Red Cross virtual discussion: “Principles of Humanity Under Pressure: The Geneva Conventions at 75 and the future of international humanitarian law,” with retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, co-founder of the McChrystal Group and former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command; Oona Hathaway, professor of international law at Yale Law School; Udo Jude Ilo; senior director for advocacy, Center for Civilians in Conflict; Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross; and Mayesha Alam, vice president of research at FP Analytics

5 p.m. 1521 16th St. NW — Institute of World Politics book discussion: Mao’s America: A Survivor’s Warning, with author Xi Van Fleet, Chinese immigrant who fled China during Mao Zedong’s reign. RSVP: [email protected] 

FRIDAY | MAY 2410 a.m. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland — U.S. Naval Academy 2024 commencement ceremony with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin delivering the commencement address

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