Blinken meets Zelensky in Kyiv as US races to rush belated aid to beleaguered Ukrainian forces

BLINKEN: UKRAINE IN A TOUGH SPOT: After traveling covertly overnight by train from Poland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv this morning for meetings with Ukraine’s president and other senior officials to deliver a message of reassurance as Ukraine is facing serious challenges from an aggressive new Russian offensive that is threatening to overwhelm Ukraine’s defenses in the north. 

“While in Ukraine, Secretary Blinken will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to discuss battlefield updates, the impact of new U.S. security and economic assistance, long-term security and other commitments,” the State Department said in a statement announcing Blinken’s arrival. “He will emphasize America’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and democracy in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.”

In brief remarks before their first meeting, both Blinken and Zelensky admitted Ukraine is now in a tough spot, the result primarily of the six-month delay by the U.S. Congress in approving a $61 billion aid package, a delay that left Ukraine’s artillery and air defense systems greatly depleted.

“That has put Ukraine in a hole, and we’ve made no bones about that from this podium,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a White House briefing Monday.

Blinken is scheduled to deliver remarks tonight at the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute to “address how the United States and other Allies and partners will help Ukraine achieve its goal of building a free, prosperous, and secure democracy — fully integrated into Europe and the Transatlantic Alliance,” according to the State Department. His speech will be livestreamed at 11 a.m. Eastern time. 

‘RUSSIA HAS CONTINUED TO PUSH THE ENVELOPE’: With Russia expanding its foothold in the north and eyeing a future assault on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, Ukrainian defenders who have been forced to fall back are in desperate need of practically everything.

“Russian forces continued to make tactically significant advances north and northeast of Kharkiv City on May 13 and currently appear to be prioritizing the rapid establishment of a buffer zone along the international border over setting conditions for deeper penetrations into northern Kharkiv Oblast,” the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment

“Active hostilities are very close. Ukrainians are concerned about it, so timely assistance is very important,” Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to Zelensky, said yesterday. “Kharkiv is an important strategic city. A large number of people stay there. We have preserved and will preserve it.”

“Russia has continued to push the envelope in terms of just the brutality, intensity of its campaign,” Sullivan said. “It has sought more targets across a wider range of Ukraine, most of them civilian, frankly, trying to destroy the Ukrainian electricity grid with an even greater determination this year than they had last year.”

‘THE LEVEL OF INTENSITY … IS 10 OUT OF 10’: Sullivan along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. held urgent consultations by phone with their Ukrainian counterparts ahead of Blinken’s visit. 

“We spoke for 90 minutes. It was a detailed conversation about the situation on the front, about the capabilities that they are most in need of, and a real triage effort to say ‘get us this stuff this fast so that we can be in a position to effectively defend against the Russian onslaught,’” Sullivan said. 

“Our whole coalition, with the president, Secretary Austin, myself working day in, day out to coordinate those deliveries and to put Ukraine in a position where it is better able to defend against what Russia is throwing at them, and what they are throwing at them is quite considerable,” Sullivan said. “Some of that equipment is already on the battlefield. On Friday, [President Joe Biden] signed out another package. Some of that equipment will get onto the battlefield this week.”

“What you will see is a steady flow week by week. It’s not like we’ve got to wait well out into the future before stuff starts getting delivered,” Sullivan said. “We’re doing everything humanly possible, both ourselves and our allies who are surging equipment as well, to get it there to the front lines. … The level of intensity being exhibited right now in terms of moving stuff is at a 10 out of 10.”

ISW: BIDEN POLICY HAS GIVEN RUSSIA ‘A VAST SANCTUARY’: In a special report, George Barros of the Institute for the Study of War argued that defeating Russia’s Kharkiv offensive requires allowing Ukraine to eliminate Putin’s “safe space.”

“Current U.S. policy prohibiting Ukraine from using U.S.-provided weapons in the territory of the Russian Federation is severely compromising Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against the renewed cross-border invasion Russia has recently launched in Kharkiv Oblast,” Barros wrote. “U.S. policy has effectively created a vast sanctuary in which Russia has been able to amass its ground invasion force and from which it is launching glide bombs and other long-range strike systems in support of its renewed invasion.”

“Russian aircraft can strike Kharkiv City indefinitely without ever leaving the sanctuary of Russian airspace. Kharkiv City lies 40 kilometers from Russia’s international border with Ukraine. Russia’s glide bombs have a glide range of 40-60 kilometers. Ukraine’s air defense systems do not have the capability to intercept glide bombs once they have been launched from Russian fighter-bombers. The Russian Air Force can therefore strike Kharkiv City without ever entering Ukraine’s sovereign airspace. It is absurd to constrain Ukraine’s ability to counter Russia’s glide bomb threat in Kharkiv at this pivotal movement,” Barros concluded. “Whatever the merits of this U.S. policy before the Russian assault on Kharkiv Oblast began, it should be modified immediately to reflect the urgent realities of the current situation.”


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: BIDEN TO ANNOUNCE CHINA TARIFFS: President Joe Biden is scheduled to make remarks in the White House Rose Garden at 12:15 p.m., where he is expected to announce the imposition of 102% tariffs on any electric vehicles imported from China, as well as steep increases on duties on clean energy products, such as semiconductors, solar panels, and batteries.

A 100% tariff on Chinese EV imports is something former President Donald Trump has been touting at rallies as he campaigns for a second term. 

“If you’re listening, President Xi [Jinping], and you and I are friends, but he understands the way I deal. Those big monster car manufacturing plants that you’re building in Mexico right now, and you think you’re going to get that, you’re going to not hire Americans and you’re going to sell the cars to us,” Trump said at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, in March. “Now, we’re going to put a 100% tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you’re not going to be able to sell those cars if I get elected.”

Currently, very few EVs from China are sold in the U.S., but subsidized by the Chinese government, some models sold in China cost as little as $12,000.


US BANS RUSSIAN URANIUM: Biden last night signed into law the bipartisan “Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act,” which bans imports of enriched uranium from Russia. The law will “strengthen our nation’s energy and economic security by reducing — and ultimately eliminating — our reliance on Russia for civilian nuclear power,” the White House said in a statement by national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

The law will take effect in three months but grants waivers to U.S. utility companies that operate nuclear reactors, giving them until 2028 to find other sources of uranium. The law also provides almost $3 billion to help stimulate domestic uranium processing.

“This new law reestablishes America’s leadership in the nuclear sector,” Sullivan said. “It will jumpstart new enrichment capacity in the United States and send a clear message to industry that we are committed to long-term growth in our nuclear sector.”

PUTIN’S MILITARY SHAKE-UP: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprise decision to fire his longtime Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and replace him with an economist with no military experience is widely seen as a recognition by Putin that over the long term, logistics win wars, and Russia rapidly needs to ramp up its defense manufacturing sector.

Putin’s selection of Andrei Belousov underscores the need for Russia to rebuild its military, which has been significantly attrited by Ukraine over more than two years of combat, all while preparing for several more years of war.

“He’s a first deputy prime minister. His background is in economics and not defense,” retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said on CNN on Sunday. “It’s likely a reflection of Putin’s trust in him and the need for better internal management within the Ministry of Defense.”

“Look, it’s an opaque system. It’s run by one man, Vladimir Putin. He calls the shots. He may move around professionals into various roles, but at the end of the day, he seems bound and determined to continue to try to inflict a brutal war of aggression on Ukraine,” Sullivan said when asked about the significance of the shake-up. “I can’t draw any conclusions at this point. We’ll have to see what unfolds.”



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AP: Biden blocks Chinese-backed crypto mining firm from land ownership near Wyoming missile base

Reuters: U.S. And Taiwan Navies Quietly Held Pacific Drills In April

Wall Street Journal: Russia’s Bombardment of Ukraine Is More Lethal Than Ever

Washington Post: Second Russian invasion is worse than the first, Kharkiv evacuees say

AP: Ex-Ukrainian president says US delay in war aid was ‘colossal’ waste, let Putin inflict more damage

New York Times: White House Says Israel Still Hasn’t Offered Plan For Protecting Civilians In Rafah

AP: Misery deepens in Gaza’s Rafah as Israeli troops press operation

AP: More than half a million people flee fighting in Rafah and northern Gaza, UN says

Wall Street Journal: Israel’s Rafah Offensive Strains 45 Years Of Peace With Egypt

Washington Post: U.S. threats led to rupture of vital military ties, Nigerien leader says

The War Zone: USS Carney Destroyed 65 Houthi Targets During Its Cruise

AP: US calls on Iran to halt `unprecedented’ weapons transfers to Yemen’s Houthis for attacks on ships

Breaking Defense: Draft House Subcommittee NDAA Language OKs Pentagon Commercial ‘Space Reserve’ Plan 19.5 Percent Pay Hike for Junior Enlisted, 4.5 Percent for Everyone Else: House Panel Unveils Bill with Proposed Raises

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9 a.m. — German Marshall Fund of the U.S. virtual discussion: “From Ukraine to the Middle East: How Crisis-Proof is European Foreign Policy?” with Riccardo Alcaro, head of the Institute of International Affairs’s Global Actors Program; Nathalie Tocci, director, Institute of International Affairs; Lisa Musiol, head of EU affairs, International Crisis Group; Henry Foy, Financial Times Brussels bureau chief; Alexandros Yannis, head of policy planning and strategic foresight, European External Action Service; and Kristina Kausch, deputy managing director and senior fellow at GMF South

9 a.m. — New America virtual Space Intersections Symposium: “How will religious and political ideologies define the future of human expansion into space?” with Ken Wisian, associate professor, University of Texas, Austin, and Namrata Goswami, professor at Arizona State University’s School of Global Management

10 a.m. — U.S. Institute of Peace virtual discussion: “Counterterrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” with Laurel Miller, president and CEO of the Asia Foundation; retired Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata, strategic adviser and senior vice president of CACI International; Asfandyar Mir, USIP senior expert for South Asia; and Tamanna Salikuddin, director of USIP South Asia programs

11 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW— Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Program discussion: “Two Years Into the Biden Administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” with Assistant State Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink; Mireya Solis, director, Brookings Institution Center for Asia Policy Studies, senior fellow in foreign policy, Brookings Institution Center for Asia Policy Studies, and chairwoman in Japan Studies; and Tanvi Madan, senior fellow in foreign policy, Brookings Institution Center for Asia Policy Studies

1 p.m. Honolulu, Hawaii — The Association of the U.S. Army three-day “LANPAC Symposium and Exposition” begins, with the theme “Campaigning with Landpower.” Speakers include Gen. Charles Flynn, commander, U.S. Army Pacific, and commanders from the U.S. Army Futures Command and the Japanese, South Korean, and Australian armies. Register:

2 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion: “Operations in the Red Sea: Lessons for Surface Warfare,” with Rear Adm. Fred Pyle, director, Surface Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

2 p.m. — Government Executive Media Group virtual discussion: “Capitalizing on Cyber Capabilities: A Dispatch from Modern Day Marine 2024,” with Deputy Marine Corps Commandant for Information Lt. Gen. Matthew Glavy and Tommy Gardner, chief technology officer at HP Federal


9 a.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute China Center conference: “The Pernicious Impact of China’s Anti-Secession Law,” focusing on “Taiwan’s right to self-determination,” with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR); former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Hudson fellow; Robert Tsao, founder of United Microelectronics Corporation; and Vincent Chao, former director, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. Political Division

10 a.m. 192 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing: “A Review of Select Department of Defense Acquisition Programs,” with testimony from William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; Douglas Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology; Nickolas Guertin, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition; and Andrew Hunter, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics

10 a.m. 138 Dirksen — Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee hearing: “A Review of the 2025 Budget Request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation,” with testimony from Michael Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, and Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, chief of engineers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

10 a.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing: “The Future of Arms Control and Deterrence,” with testimony from Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security

10 a.m. 608 Dirksen — Senate Budget Committee hearing: “Budgeting for the Storm: Climate Change and the Costs to National Security,” with testimony from retired Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, former assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations, and environment; Erin Sikorsky, director, Center for Climate and Security and the International Military Council on Climate and Security; and Rick Dwyer, executive director, Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance

10 a.m. 2167 Rayburn — House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing: “Reviewing and Examining the Francis Scott Key Bridge Federal Response,” with testimony from Vice Adm. Peter Gautier, deputy commandant for operations, Coast Guard; Maj. Gen. William “Butch” Graham, deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations, Army Corps of Engineers; Shailen Bhatt, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration; and Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board

11 a.m. 1763 N St. NW — Middle East Institute book discussion: “Battle Ground: Ten Conflicts that Explain the New Middle East,” with author Christopher Phillips, professor of international relations at Queen Mary University of London

1 p.m. — U.S. Navy Memorial virtual discussion with Vice Adm. Richard John Cheeseman, deputy chief of naval operations for manpower, personnel, training, and education and chief of naval personnel, Navy, part of the “SITREP” series.

2:30 p.m. 216 Hart — Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: “Update on Foreign Threats to 2024 Elections,” with testimony from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines; Jen Easterly, director, Homeland Security Department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and Larissa Knapp, executive assistant director for the FBI’s National Security Branch

4 p.m. 232-A Russell — Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee hearing: “Army Modernization in Review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2025 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with testimony from Douglas Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology; Army Gen. James Rainey, commanding general of the U.S. Army Futures Command; and Army Lt. Gen. Karl Gingrich, deputy chief of staff (G-8)

4:30 p.m. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — Hudson Institute discussion: “Flipping the Cube: Transforming the Defense Budget Structure,” with former Pentagon Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Jamie Morin, vice president of Defense Strategic Space, Aerospace Corporation, and former Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, president and CEO of the National Defense Industrial Association


9:30 a.m. 216 Hart — Senate Armed Services Committee hearing: “The Posture of the Department of the Navy in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2025 and the Future Years Defense Program,” with testimony from Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti; and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith

9:30 a.m. — Henry Stimson Center virtual discussion: “Connecting the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific: Northeast Asia’s Growing Cooperation with NATO,” with former European Union Ambassador to South Korea Michael Reiterer, professor, Brussels School of Governance Center for Security, Diplomacy, and Strategy; Bo Ram Kwon, Korea Institute for Defense Analyses associate research fellow; Yuki Tatsumi, director, Stimson Center’s Japan Program; and Jenny Town, director, Stimson Center’s 38 North and Korea Program

10 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual discussion: “One Year In: Defense Innovation Unit 3.0 and the Path Forward,” with Douglas Beck, director, Defense Innovation Unit

2 p.m. 310 Cannon — House Homeland Security Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Subcommittee hearing: “Security Risk: The Unprecedented Surge in Chinese Illegal Immigration”

2 p.m — Government Executive Media Group virtual discussion: “The role of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in modern conflict, how the Air Force is training ISR operators, and how emerging tech is improving operations,” with Air Force Lt. Gen. Leah Lauderback, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and cyber effects operations, and Dave Gold, Americas field chief technology officer at SentinelOne

2 p.m. 2212 Rayburn — Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing: “Closing the Skies, Liberating Ukraine,” with Michael Ryan, former deputy assistant secretary of defense; former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, senior director, Atlantic Council; and Nataliya Bugayova, nonresident fellow, Institute for the Study of War

 3 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW — American Enterprise Institute in-person and virtual discussion: “No Invasion Necessary: A Discussion of How China Can Employ a Coercion-Based Strategy to Take Taiwan Without a War,” with Dan Blumenthal, senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Frederick Kagan, senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Kimberly Kagan, president, Institute for the Study of War; and Bonny Lin, director, China Power Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies


10 a.m. — Center for a New American Security virtual discussion: “Developing Drone and Counter-Drone Capabilities,” with Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo org/events/virtual-event-developing-drone-and-counter-drone-capabilities

10 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual discussion: “The upcoming 2024 NATO Summit and allied strategies to counter renewed Russian retaliation amid Moscow’s ongoing war in Ukraine and efforts to modernize the alliance’s capabilities,” with Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the U.S. European Command and supreme NATO commander; Michael Andersson, head of strategic affairs and international affairs at Saab and board director, Atlantic Council; former Supreme NATO Commander retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, executive chairman emeritus of the Atlantic Council; and Andrew Michta, director and senior fellow of the Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Scowcroft Security Initiative

12 p.m. 555 13th St. NW — Washington Space Business Roundtable discussion: “Integrating the growing U.S. commercial space sector into our national security space architecture,” with Col. Richard Kniseley, senior material leader, Space Systems Command Commercial Space Office

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