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U.S. Response to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by Ironduke View Post
    The Ukraine Aid bill has passed 311 to 112, with all Democrats voting in favor, and Republicans voting 101 in favor, 112 against.

    The Israel aid was passed 366 to 58, while Taiwan/Indo-Pacific aid was passed 385 to 34.
    Question now is, does Johnson survive his defying of the Russia First Caucus?

    House passes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan after months of fierce debate

    WASHINGTON – The House approved a set of long-awaited foreign aid bills on Saturday that would send funds to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region after months of it being stalled by Republican infighting.

    Passage of the bills also could cost Speaker Mike Johnson his leadership position and status as second in line to the presidency.

    The bills mostly mirror an earlier foreign aid package the Senate passed earlier this year. But this one is broken up into pieces as an attempt by Johnson, R-La., to appease his conference by allowing GOP lawmakers to pick and choose what aspects of the bill they support.

    Johnson’s foreign aid plan includes three bills that separately fund Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region, along with a fourth bill that includes various GOP-backed foreign policy priorities as a sweetener to entice Republicans to back the proposal. Those provisions would include seizing frozen Russian assets to fund the Ukrainian war effort along with legislation that could result in a nationwide ban on the popular social media app, TikTok.

    All bills passed the House on a bipartisan basis, but the legislation funding Ukraine proved to be the most contentious as continued U.S. support for Kyiv continues to fall among the House GOP ranks. The House passed the bill providing roughly $60 billion in Ukraine by a vote of 311-112.

    Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC.

    The Israel bill also proved to be problematic among progressive Democrats who have called for conditioning aid to the country over its conduct in the war-torn Gaza strip as international aid organizations warn of incoming famine in the territory. Lawmakers approved more than $26 billion in Israel funding and humanitarian assistance in the region by a vote of 366-58.

    Aid to the Indo-Pacific region aimed at deterring China was far less controversial and lawmakers passed about $8 billion to the region by a vote of 385-34. The sweetener bill also passed by a vote of 360-58.

    All four bills will be compiled together into one package to send to the Senate, where it is expected to approve the legislation as well. President Joe Biden has also vowed to sign the package “immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.”

    The final package was a long time coming and came together after months of dithering by Johnson, who was under intense pressure by leaders from both sides of the aisle to advance foreign aid. At first, Johnson sided with ultraconservative lawmakers who insisted that any assistance abroad must be paired with significant changes to border and immigration policy to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    But in recent days, the speaker appears to have shifted in his views of foreign aid, delivering remarks to reporters on Wednesday about the urgent need for the U.S. to show support for it's allies.

    “Providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important. I really do. I really do believe the intel in the briefings that we’ve gotten. I believe Xi (Jinping) and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they’re in coordination on this. I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed,” Johnson said.

    “To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys,” Johnson continued, adding his son is entering the U.S. Naval Academy this fall. “This is a live-fire exercise for me as it is so many American families. This is not a game. This is not a joke.”

    Passage of the foreign aid package also appears like it will leave Johnson’s speakership in peril. Conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., along with two other Republicans, are seeking to oust the speaker for working with Democrats to pass legislation. Greene has declined to offer a timeline for when she would move to remove the speaker, but has previously suggested she would do so the moment the House passes Ukraine aid.

    Regardless, Johnson said his “philosophy is you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may” and that he was “willing to take personal risk” for his job if it meant Congress could pass foreign aid.

    A small group of bipartisan negotiators in the Senate cobbled together a foreign aid package that did include sweeping changes in border and immigration policy that looked ready to clear the upper chamber earlier this year, but at the behest of former President Donald Trump who opposed the bill, congressional Republicans ultimately killed the deal despite it including significant overhauls to the border.

    The Senate later passed the foreign aid package completely stripped of changes in border policy and as months went by, Senate leaders from both parties called on Johnson to pass the deal immediately.

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., departs Capitol Hill following a vote on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC.

    The speaker ultimately opted to split the bill into several different components with slight modifications to win Republican support, including converting direct financial assistance to Ukraine as a loan that can eventually be forgiven by the U.S.

    In an attempt to placate the hard-right who were incensed by the speaker’s decision, a fifth bill that resembled a strict partisan bill Republicans passed last year to address the southern border – referred to as H.R. 2 – was offered a vote on the floor, but failed to garner the support necessary to pass. Conservatives derided the bill which appeared to be a peace offering as an attempt from the speaker to save face.

    What happens next in the lower chamber is uncertain, as House lawmakers leave Washington for a week-long recess right after passing the foreign aid package on Saturday. Once they return to Capitol Hill, Johnson is expected to enter a political fight for his life as Greene, backed by other conservatives, threaten to supplant him.

    The 112 Guardians of Putin:
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  • Ironduke
    The Ukraine Aid bill has passed 311 to 112, with all Democrats voting in favor, and Republicans voting 101 in favor, 112 against.

    The Israel aid was passed 366 to 58, while Taiwan/Indo-Pacific aid was passed 385 to 34.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 20 Apr 24,, 19:56.

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  • Albany Rifles
    Of course he is because the mutants in his horribly gerrymandered district are for Velveeta Voldemort.

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  • TopHatter
    GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw: Some Republicans "want Russia to win so badly" they may oust Speaker Johnson

    House Speaker Mike Johnson's, R-La., decision to hold a long-delayed vote on aid for Ukraine could cost him his job because some of his fellow Republicans would much prefer the government in Moscow to the one in Kyiv, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, said Thursday.

    In February, the U.S. Senate passed a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine and Israel, but only this week did Johnson promise to hold a vote in the lower chamber, saying he intends to break the package up into separate bills. That comes as Ukraine's military is running out of ammunition and Russia is making territorial gains.

    But Johnson's decision has thrown the Republican caucus into turmoil. The party's base has been suspicious of Ukraine ever since former President Donald Trump falsely accused its government of intervening in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Now the more extreme MAGA wing, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is in open revolt, threatening to do to Johnson what they did to his predecessor, former Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

    Speaking to CNN's Manu Raju, Crenshaw — who is backing Trump's 2024 bid for the White House despite Trump previously declining to endorse the Texas Republican's own reelection — was frank about what he thinks is going on.

    "I guess their reasoning is they want Russia to win so badly that they want to oust the speaker over it," Crenshaw said. "I mean, it's a strange position to take. I think they want to be in the minority too. I think that's an obvious reality."

    Crenshaw added: "I'm still trying to process all the bulls**t."

    He's still backing Trump...jfc

    Leave a comment:

  • Albany Rifles
    Originally posted by Ironduke View Post
    I thought this was a Ukraine- only bill and there will be separate bills for Israel and Taiwan.
    I was getting ahead of myself....yes, you are correct. But the Taiwan & Israel bills will look a little different as they are already foreign military sales partners while Ukraine is not.

    Will wait to see those bills.

    Leave a comment:

  • Ironduke
    I thought this was a Ukraine- only bill and there will be separate bills for Israel and Taiwan.

    Leave a comment:

  • Albany Rifles
    Originally posted by Ironduke View Post
    Draft House bill for Ukraine war aid:

    Maybe AR can help interpret here. How much of this bill is actually aid for Ukraine? For example, the bill talks about replenishment of DoD stocks. Does this mean the DoD can in the future give that much in dollar value of arms to Ukraine, then use the money to replenish those stocks? you see the funding down into the various budget categories used in DOD...O&M-Army means the money to pay for the day to day monies used to pay for current operations. It also pays for new purchase of munitions and repair and operations costs. So this is the funding to pay for the update of new hardware from Army stocks (that is refurbish mothballed items) and new round so they 155mm, 7.62mm. 120mm, or PATRIOT missiles. New procurement is RDT&E money for tweaking current systems. Other Procurement-Army (OPA) is new from the factory weapons and gear...i.e., not hand over of existing items from US units but new from industrial new Patriot Batteries. However, some creative accounting can backfill Army units with new and improved models in order to give up older on hand equipment for Ukraine.

    Inspector General funding is to pay for those 22 different layers of monitoring and tracking expenditures to fight corruption...very robust.

    Also note most have allocated funds to be used until the end of FY 26...this gives the Federal government authority & time to keep providing items going forward. Also it is blended with assistance for Israel & Taiwan mixed in. But you see other parts of government are covered as well...i.e., for refugees and humanitarian for helping UKR refugees and Gazans. Also some of those State Department funds are for that and funding the UKR government. And manpower funding is to pay for the civilian and contractor workforce working in Europe and other places to manage the forward movement and handover of items to Ukraine & Israel.

    All in all, a pretty clean, straight forward bill.

    Leave a comment:

  • Ironduke
    Draft House bill for Ukraine war aid:

    Maybe AR can help interpret here. How much of this bill is actually aid for Ukraine? For example, the bill talks about replenishment of DoD stocks. Does this mean the DoD can in the future give that much in dollar value of arms to Ukraine, then use the money to replenish those stocks?

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    Trump’s Plan for Ukraine: Gift-Wrap It for Putin
    With a bow on top.

    LAST WEEK, AFTER MONTHS of hints and innuendo, we finally got some insight into former President Donald Trump’s plans for Ukraine should he return to the White House. While the details remain scarce, the Washington Post revealed that Trump’s Ukraine policy will center on “pushing Ukraine to cede Crimea and the Donbas border region to Russia.” The plan is a “terrible deal,” as Emma Ashford of the Stimson Center told the Post. But it’s worth delineating precisely why Trump’s anticipated Ukraine policy is so appalling—and what an affront it is to both Ukrainian and American interests.

    Trump’s position apparently stems from his belief that Russia is simply looking for a negotiated exit from the war in Ukraine. Such a framing not only echoes other Trump supporters—such as Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, who last week repeated calls for “negotiations” in the New York Times—but it further smacks of the Obama administration’s myopic beliefs that it could find an “off-ramp” for Moscow following Russia’s initial 2014 invasion. As Trump sees it, Russia wants “to save face, they want a way out,” per the Post’s reporting.

    Would that it were so. There were many off-ramps on the road to Kyiv, and Putin took none of them. As Putin has revealed over and over again, his designs are hardly limited to a territorial land-grab in southern and eastern Ukraine.

    At the outset of the full-scale invasion in 2022, Putin’s rhetoric was (as it still is) saturated in calls to “denazify” Ukraine. In the ensuing two years, we’ve learned how Putin intended on toppling Ukraine’s government wholesale, even going so far as to send assassination squads after Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky and drafting plans to return Viktor Yanukovych, whom Ukrainians ran out of power in 2014, to leadership. Putin’s overall plan was to geld Ukraine, to return Kyiv to the Kremlin’s subservience, and to restore Moscow’s imperial writ across the country. Along the way, he hoped not only to push Russian sovereignty all the way to the Moldovan enclave of Transnistria, but, as he demanded at the outset of the 2022 invasion, a removal of NATO troops from all of Eastern and much of Central Europe.

    Two years into the expanded invasion, it’s easy to forget these details, especially with the war bogged down in Ukraine’s east. But it’s worth remembering, especially as Russia girds for a renewed summer offensive, that contra Ron DeSantis, this war is no mere “territorial dispute.” It is an effort to reverse the outcome of the Cold War, to divide Europe into empires and batter it with revanche. This is, in many ways, a story Europe has seen before, from Hitler’s Germany to Milosevic’s Serbia.

    Trump’s proposals completely ignore the previous, hard-won lessons that offering territory to dictators on the march will hardly satisfy them. Indeed, Trump appears unaware that Putin has claims to have “annexed” regions beyond what his army now controls—territories Putin will, of course, continue pushing for, slaughtering as many Ukrainians as needed in the process.

    Nor is it just that Trump’s proposals amount to little more than warmed-over appeasement. As he’s done for years, Trump has completely misunderstood the local dynamics and desires of the Ukrainians in Crimea and the Donbas. For years, Russian nationalists have claimed Moscow’s rightful ownership of Crimea, crowing that the peninsula is an historic font of Russian identity, and that Moscow’s 1954 transfer of the peninsula to Soviet Ukraine was an historic blunder. What those nationalists ignore, however, is not only that Russians were hardly an ancient or dominating force on the peninsula—it wasn’t until World War II that Russians were the ethnic majority in Crimea, and only then as a result of Joseph Stalin’s massive ethnic cleansing campaigns—but that Crimeans have never evinced any clear desire to be ruled from Moscow. The majority of Crimeans voted for Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, just like every other Ukrainian province. In polling leading up to the Russian invasion in 2014, less than a quarter of Crimeans claimed any desire for Russian annexation.

    Little wonder, then, that Moscow’s 2014 annexation relied on a ballot-by-bayonet referendum, the results of which—with a supposed 97 percent of Crimeans suddenly voting for Russian annexation—are about as credible as Putin’s recent presidential victory. Even anecdotally, the clear lack of desire among Crimeans to join Russia’s embrace was palpable. When I toured the peninsula just a few months before Ukraine’s 2013–14 revolution, pro-annexation sentiment in Crimea was effectively nonexistent. In Yalta, locals were far more interested in strolling the promenade, scaling the rocky outcroppings, and boozing on the beach. In Bakhchysarai, the Crimean Tatars I spoke with, including those ethnically cleansed by Stalin during WWII and their descendants, were all far more interested in restoring their own histories and legacies on the peninsula, rehabbing the local Khan’s Palace, and opening a spate of new Tatar restaurants than joining Russia.

    In Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, scattered Russian flags may have fluttered, but there was no chatter of annexation whatsoever. Such a dearth of pro-Kremlin sentiment echoed the observations of the Russians who spearheaded Moscow’s 2014 intervention. Igor Girkin, the Russian national (and war criminal) who helped lead Russia’s invasion, later revealed he “didn’t see any support [for annexation] from any organ of government power” in Crimea. As other journalists noted, rather than witness an upswell of pro-Russian sentiment, Russian special forces swarming Simferopol were instead forced to wrangle Crimean deputies into a quorum to vote for annexation.

    Trump, though, couldn’t care less about these realities. To him, and to all those others who’ve swallowed Putin’s claims to the peninsula, Crimeans “would rather be with Russia than” Ukraine, as Trump sputtered in 2016. Rather than Ukrainians waiting for liberation, Trump would have those still on the peninsula, as well as across Eastern Ukraine, permanently consigned to Russian rule—to oppression by a dictator wanted by the International Criminal Court, and to a country whose imperialist designs have “no borders.”

    Trump’s proposals, if followed through, would simply whet Putin’s irredentism and allow him time to rearm for yet another effort to subdue Ukraine. Not only would Europe be that much more destabilized and America’s national security interests that much more threatened, but revanchists from Beijing to Caracas would grow that much more confident. Thanks to Trump, the world would be once more safe for empire.

    Of course, at that point, Trump may not care, as drenched as he and his followers are in anti-Ukrainian conspiracies. And at that point, Putin may not be the only one happy to see Ukraine demolished as a sovereign entity—regardless of the cost to American interests, or to the Ukrainians whom Trump would force into Russia’s permanent embrace.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied read on why Johnson is finally moving on this.

    1. Johnson is a member of the Messianic Christian Nutjob Sect Christian Church which sees the end times comes with the ultimate battle of Israel over all and we will get the 2nd Coming. So he realizes he needs to use the Iranian attack this weekend to strike while the irons hot to get aid for Israel through the House.

    2. He is feeling the heat from his last few remaining caucus members who still remember when Russia/Soviet Union was the enemy and aiding Ukraine is in our best interests. And they also get that politics is supposed to end at the shoreline. And a lot of these members are in leadership role and it will be hard to buck them.

    3. As Johnson only has a 1 vote margin as Speaker I bet Hakeem Jeffries, who is one hell of a good politician (and that is meant as a compliment not a pejorative), told JOhnson the Democratic Caucus won't go against him in case the GQP wing moves to remove Johnson from power. They may not vote for him as Speaker but perhaps will abstain or vote present to allow the sane members of the party to carry the day.

    Regardless, it will be good to see some real governance coming out of the House for once instead of the originally planned Freedom For Appliances Week was on the agenda...and that is not a joke.

    Johnson makes his long-awaited move on Ukraine as House plans to vote on separate aid packages

    By Melanie Zanona, Manu Raju, Annie Grayer, Haley Talbot and Clare Foran, CNN

    5 minute read
    Updated 10:44 PM EDT, Mon April 15, 2024

    House Speaker Mike Johnson holds a news conference following a House GOP caucus meeting at the US Capitol on April 10, 2024 in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty ImagesCNN —
    Speaker Mike Johnson announced Monday evening the House will take up separate bills this week to provide aid for Israel and Ukraine, heeding demands from the far right to keep the issues separate as the threat of a vote to oust him from the speakership looms.

    The long-awaited decision by Johnson marks a pivotal moment for the Louisiana Republican as he has faced intense pressure from his conference over how he would handle foreign aid to the key US allies.

    Johnson predicted the House will vote Friday evening on the separate bills.

    “There are precipitating events around the globe that we’re all watching very carefully,” Johnson told reporters after a GOP conference meeting Monday evening. “And we know that the world is watching us to see how we react.”

    Despite the speaker’s attempt to thread the needle, however, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who continues to dangle the threat of a vote on Johnson’s ouster, was quick to criticize the foreign aid plan.

    “I am firmly against the plan as it stands right now,” Greene told reporters, though when asked whether she would force a vote on the motion to vacate as a result, she said, “I haven’t decided on that yet.”

    Johnson dismissed concerns over a vote to oust him by his conservative flank if he moves on aid to Ukraine, telling CNN, “I don’t spend my time worrying about motions to vacate. We’re having to govern here and we’re going to do our job.”

    In addition to aid for Israel and Ukraine, Johnson said in a post on X that the bills would support allies in the Indo-Pacific and there would be additional measures to “counter our adversaries and strengthen our national security.”

    But Republican leaders could still take procedural steps to send all those pieces as one package to the Senate, which could enrage the right wing of the House GOP conference.

    Johnson left open the possibility that the bills could ultimately be packaged together, setting up a potential fight with the right flank.

    “We’re discussing whether they would be merged together in one package that’s sent to the Senate or if it goes over as individual measures,” Johnson said. “My personal preference is to do it individually, but we’ll let the body decide.”

    Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, a hardline conservative who had initially expressed support for Johnson’s approach to foreign aid, pushed back on the possibility of merging the bills.

    “Israel funding should not be held hostage by Ukraine funding. The American people deserve to know where their senators stand on each funding component,” he wrote on social media.

    Among the ways GOP leaders plan to address Ukraine aid: a bill to seize Russian assets, a lend-lease program for Ukraine military aid and convertible loans for humanitarian relief.

    Former President Donald Trump, who recently met with House Speaker Mike Johnson at Mar-a-Lago, has expressed openness to structuring Ukraine aid as a loan.

    GOP Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma told CNN that Johnson is allowing germane amendment votes on these bills as well – a process that far right Republicans had been demanding of Johnson.

    In the wake of Iran’s unprecedented retaliatory strikes on Israel, Democrats have called on Johnson to bring up a Senate-passed foreign aid package that includes aid to Israel and Ukraine, but hardline conservatives have urged the Louisiana Republican against attaching Ukraine funding to any Israel aid package – a warning that comes as the speaker faces the threat of a potential vote to oust him from his leadership post.

    House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries urged immediate passage of the foreign aid package passed by the Senate in a new letter to colleagues.

    “The gravely serious events of this past weekend in the Middle East and Eastern Europe underscore the need for Congress to act immediately. We must take up the bipartisan and comprehensive national security bill passed by the Senate forthwith,” Jeffries wrote.

    In November, the House passed a bill to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel, but Democrats objected to the fact that the bill did not include aid to Ukraine and would enact funding cuts to the Internal Revenue Service.

    The Senate passed its bill in February – a $95.3 billion foreign aid bill with assistance for Ukraine, Israel and other priorities.

    A significant number of House Republicans are opposed to sending further aid to Ukraine. Now, Johnson faces the most significant threat to his speakership to date after GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is among those who oppose additional Ukraine aid, filed a motion against him that could be used to force a vote on his ouster.

    Greene told CNN on Monday that Trump’s backing of Johnson during a Friday press conference will not deter her from moving to oust the speaker.

    “No, no, and as a matter of fact, there’s more people that are probably going to be angry from whatever happens this week,” she said.

    Later, Greene said, “He’s definitely not going to be speaker next Congress if we’re lucky enough to have a majority. I think that is a widely held belief throughout the Congress.”

    Asked if she thinks he’ll remain speaker for the remainder of the current session of Congress, the congresswoman said, “That is to be determined. Like I said, I’m still processing.”

    Johnson called Greene’s decision to file the motion to vacate a “distraction” during an interview on Fox News.

    “That’s a distraction. What Marjorie has done with the motion to vacate is not helpful for our party, for our mission to save the country, because if we don’t grow the House majority, keep the House majority, win the Senate and win back the White House for President Trump, we’re going to lose the republic,” he said.

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  • Albany Rifles

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  • TopHatter
    Trump thought Ukraine ‘must be part of Russia’ during presidency, book says

    Author David Sanger writes that Trump’s view of Ukraine was ‘essentially identical’ to that of Vladimir Putin.

    As president, Donald Trump “made it very clear” that he thought Ukraine “must be part of Russia”, his former adviser Fiona Hill says in a new book about US national security under threat from Russia and China.

    “Trump made it very clear that he thought, you know, that Ukraine, and certainly Crimea, must be part of Russia,” Hill, senior director for European and Russian affairs on the US national security council between 2017 and 2019, tells David Sanger, a New York Times reporter and author of New Cold Wars: China’s Rise, Russia’s Invasion, and America’s Struggle to Defend the West.

    “He really could not get his head around the idea that Ukraine was an independent state.”

    This, Sanger writes, meant Trump’s view of Ukraine was “essentially identical” to that of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who would order an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a year after Trump left office.

    Before triggering the invasion, Putin said in a speech: “Ukraine is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space.”

    Last month, in a speech marking 10 years since the annexation of Crimea, Putin declared that parts of occupied Ukraine were part of a “New Russia”.

    New Cold Wars will be published in the US on Tuesday. The Guardian obtained a copy.

    The book appears with the Ukraine war grinding into its third year but with $60bn of new US military aid to Kyiv blocked by far-right Republicans in the US House, acting in accordance with Trump’s wishes as he runs to defeat Joe Biden in a presidential election rematch and return to power.

    The House speaker, Mike Johnson, has indicated he wants to pass Ukraine aid but he faces strong opposition, not least from Trump, with whom Johnson is due to appear in Florida on Friday. Biden has strongly condemned Republicans’ hold on Ukraine aid, as have lawmakers from both parties. Biden and other senior figures have also condemned Trump’s words in support of Putin, including a stunning promise to “encourage Russia to do what the hell they want” to US Nato allies he deems financially delinquent.

    On Thursday, Alexander Vindman, formerly the top Ukraine aide on Trump’s national security council, told CNN that without new US aid, Ukraine’s position had become “quite precarious”.

    Like Hill, Vindman was a key witness in Trump’s first impeachment trial, over his attempts to blackmail Ukraine by withholding military support, in an attempt to extract political dirt on rivals including Biden.

    Vindman was fired, after Senate Republicans loyal to Trump assured the president’s acquittal at trial. Hill left office on her own terms.

    Vindman was born in Ukraine. Hill was born in Britain. Now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and chancellor of Durham University in the UK, Hill’s thoughts on Trump, Russia and Putin remain eagerly sought, particularly given her co-authorship of Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, a well-regarded biography.

    In Washington in February, Hill told a conference staged by anti-Trump conservatives that Trump “idolises” Putin for his autocratic leadership and longevity in power.

    That view, Hill said, contributed to Trump’s furious rejection of intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win.

    She also said she had spoken to European leaders at the Munich security conference, finding them nervously preparing for a possible second Trump administration.

    “The prime ministers and presidents and foreign ministers and others … all know how capricious Trump is,” Hill said. “And that’s really what they’re worried about, because it doesn’t matter how many people that they know who become secretary of state or secretary of defense, it comes down to Trump himself and the unpredictability of his personality.”

    Hill’s words to Sanger about Trump’s view of Ukraine, though brief, seem guaranteed only to add to such worries.

    The result of growing qualms about Trump, his attitude to Russia and other idiosyncrasies, Hill said in February, “is that [European leaders] have started to lose faith in the United States. And it’s very distressing to hear.”

    Trump sees Ukraine as a piece of real-estate and Putin as an other real estate developer. Trump wants to do a real estate deal with Putin.
    He sees Putin as a business man with whom he can carry out a business deals now and in the future.

    Putin sees Trump, and his cult, as fit for manipulation as easily as a small child.

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  • Albany Rifles
    And the proven combat capability ties hand in hand with the article above.

    How Patriot proved itself in Ukraine and secured a fresh future

    By Jen Judson
    Apr 9, 05:00 AM

    U.S. Patriot missile batteries stand ready in Poland on April 10, 2022. (Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Smith/U.S. Army)In the dead of night in May, Russia launched a Kinzhal hypersonic missile at the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

    The air-launched weapon can reach speeds up to Mach 10, which equates to about 7,700 mph.

    Less than a month earlier, the U.S. had sent a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine to help it fend off the barrage of complex missiles Russia was using. But the system had never proved itself against a missile like the Kinzhal.

    Even so, the Patriot system blocked the incoming missile, defusing the weapon and several others, according to U.S. officials.

    Since then, the Patriot system has continued to successfully intercept a wide range of Russian weaponry. It has shot down Russian aircraft like Su-34 fighters flying nearly 100 miles away, and intercepted missiles as far as 130 miles away, according to Oleksandr Musiienko, head of the Kyiv-based nongovernmental organization the Center for Military and Legal Studies.
    A Russian Air Force MiG-31K jet carries the high-precision hypersonic missile Kh-47M2 Kinzhal during the Victory Day military parade. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

    The success of the RTX-made Patriot system in Ukraine comes as the U.S. Army aims to replace the Patriot with an integrated air and missile defense system better able to connect with other equipment on the battlefield and equipped with a more capable radar.

    But the Patriot system’s dominance in Ukraine has attracted fresh attention and potential customers from around the world. What might have looked like an aging system not long ago now appears to be a workhorse that could be used for years to come.

    “Patriot has prove[d] to be a very reliable system,” said Ben Hodges, a retired three-star general who commanded U.S. Army forces in Europe following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “The Ukrainians learned very quickly how to operate it, and even more impressively they learned very quickly how to employ it to great effect.”

    “Nations are much more alive to the [air and missile defense] threat,” he added.
    The successor

    The Patriot system was first introduced to counter threats to the United States during the Cold War. But it faced significant battle when forces deployed the system in the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War.

    In those early years, the Patriot experienced major failures. In 1991, for example, the system failed to intercept an Iraqi Al Hussein Scud missile, which hit barracks in Saudi Arabia and killed 28 U.S. soldiers. The system was then involved in three friendly fire incidents in 2003 during the Iraq War; in one case, a Patriot shot down a British Royal Air Force Tornado jet, killing its two crew members.

    Despite these failures, the U.S. Army has long relied on the system. Indeed, its Patriot units for years maintained the highest operational tempo across any units in the service with the longest deployments. Despite the incidents in Iraq, it was heavily used there and successfully countered ballistic missile threats.

    And plenty of other countries also use the system, which is made up of eight truck-mounted launchers, a ground radar, a control station and a power generator. The launchers can each hold four interceptors.
    A U.S. Army Patriot missile fires to engage a target at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia, during the 2021 Talisman Sabre exercise. (Cpl. Jarrod McAneney/Australian Defence Department)

    According to Raytheon, an RTX company that manufactures the Patriot system, 19 countries have purchased the weapon and there are more than 250 Patriot fire units around the world. Tom Laliberty, Raytheon’s president of land and air defense systems, told Defense News in a recent interview the U.S. owns 85-90 of those, with the rest distributed among the other 18 customer countries.

    “The system has just been continually improved based on feedback we get from the now 19 countries that use Patriot,” he said.

    Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea led to a sales burst. Eastern European countries jumped to buy Patriot systems to enhance their own defenses. Romania, Poland and Sweden signed on as new customers in the years between Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

    But during the same time, the U.S. Army started making plans to replace the Patriot, seeking a capability with a more flexible command-and-control system and a radar capable of full coverage. The Patriot radar’s existing configuration creates blind spots for the system.

    The Army is slated to build a new Patriot battery to replace the one sent to Ukraine and to secure one more battalion’s worth of systems. But the service will gradually replace individual elements of the Patriot system over the next several decades. Eventually, all of those upgraded elements will become a new system known as Integrated Air and Missile Defense.

    The first piece to be replaced will be the Patriot’s command-and-control system, which will be swapped out with the Northrop Grumman-developed Integrated Battle Command System. IBCS, approved for full-rate production last year, will enable the system to connect with a variety of other sensors and shooters on the battlefield.

    Next, the Patriot system’s radar is slated to be replaced with the Raytheon-developed Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS. The first set of prototype radars is undergoing tests with the Army; they are expected to offer 360-degree coverage.
    The Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, shown here, is slated to replace the Patriot system’s radar. (Darrell Ames/U.S. Army)

    In recent months, the sensor completed four successful live-fire demonstrations at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

    The Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense system will be designed to tie into a broader air defense architecture using IBCS. The service is also expected to be able to easily improve the technology through software updates.
    Patriot heats up

    But the system’s success in Ukraine has made clear there remains interest for the Patriot in its current state.

    Switzerland purchased five batteries and 75 missiles in November 2022, and Romania plans to buy additional fire units. At least two other European countries are close to announcing plans to buy Patriot, according to Laliberty, who declined to identify them.

    Germany announced in March it would buy more Patriot systems to augment its air defense capabilities. Raytheon won a $1.2 billion contract that buys radars, launchers, command-and-control stations, spares and support, according to a company statement.

    Slovakia has publicly expressed interest in buying Patriot systems following a NATO-owned Patriot system’s deployment to the country in 2022.
    A Romanian Patriot system fires a missile during a drill at the Capu Midia shooting range next to the Black Sea on Nov. 15, 2023. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)

    Raytheon’s production lines are churning out five fire units for the contract with Switzerland, Laliberty said, and the company anticipates an additional 12 will be under contract within the next 18 months.

    “Given that our capacity supports the production of 12 fire units a year, there is sufficient capacity to support current as well as future contracts as they materialize,” he noted.

    Raytheon also received a contract in January to replace the U.S. Patriot battery donated to Ukraine. That was paid for with fiscal 2023 supplemental funding approved by Congress.

    Now, the company is focused on boosting production of the missiles the Patriot system uses as interceptors. The PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement weapons, made by Lockheed Martin, are the most capable missile variant used by the system.

    In 2018, Lockheed’s annual rate of building those missiles was 350. The company planned to increase that to 500 annually. But Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has put new pressure on this effort, and the U.S. Army has provided funding to get Lockheed to 550 missiles per year. In December, the firm said it reached a rate of 500 per year.

    The company built an 85,000-square-foot facility equipped with automated systems to build PAC-3 MSE missiles and is now preparing to produce 650 a year by 2027.

    Boeing, which supplies the seeker for the PAC-3 MSE, is also planning to accelerate production, according to Jim Bryan, the company’s director of integrated air and missile defense.

    Bryan said Boeing last year added 35,000 square feet to its factory, enabling a 30% production increase.

    Many of the expansion efforts by Lockheed and its suppliers preceded government funding. The companies are banking on both an increase in U.S. government spending in the coming years as well as a rise in orders from international customers.

    “From a demand future, we continue to see it. We meet with customers all the time, and we think we’ll be adding new customers to the MSE line,” Brenda Davidson, Lockheed’s vice president of PAC-3 programs, told Defense News. “The areas of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East continue to be very, very important to us.”
    ‘Patriot has a place’

    Indeed, those two regions have existing Patriot customers that continue to rely on the system. And geopolitical hot spots, such as the Taiwan Strait and the Red Sea, are driving demand for air defense more broadly — regardless of which system is available.

    Increasingly savvy ballistic missiles and emerging hypersonic missiles are creating new challenges for air defense systems. The U.S. Army has named air defense one of its highest priorities, and is adjusting its funding accordingly.

    In the fiscal 2025 budget released in March, the Army asked for $602 million in research and development efforts for Integrated Air and Missile Defense and $2.8 billion in procurement, which covers modernized capabilities beyond the Patriot system.

    For Patriot modifications alone, the Army planned to spend $1.7 billion between FY24 and FY28, according to FY24 budget documents. Now, the Army is requesting an additional $2.29 billion across the same time period to modify and upgrade its Patriot capability, according to FY25 documents.

    The head of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Lt. Gen. Sean Gainey, said the service has sought to reduce pressure on Patriot air defense units, but has been stymied by today’s demands.
    In its fiscal 2025 budget request to Congress, the Army asked for $602 million in research and development efforts for Integrated Air and Missile Defense and $2.8 billion in procurement, which covers modernized capabilities beyond the Patriot system. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    “Prior to the recent increase in deployments, we were continuing to move along a path to regain some of that readiness,” he told Defense News in March. The “demand has limited our ability to regain a lot of that readiness back.”

    He said the Army hopes international allies will help as they increasingly buy air defense capabilities.

    “It’s going to be a challenge as long as we have the high demand moving forward on our soldiers. But leveraging our partners and leveraging our modernization goals are the ways that we can eventually, sometime in the future, start alleviating some of that pressure,” Gainey added.

    Hodges, however, said there remains just one U.S. Patriot battalion committed to Europe.

    “I have seen and heard a lot more conversation about” air and missile defense integration among allies and partners in Europe, he noted, “but I have not seen marked increases in capabilities, nor have I seen a large-scale, theaterwide, joint, multinational air [and] missile defense exercise that presents the same sort of challenge a Russian attack would bring.”

    “None of us has enough capacity to defend much of what must be protected. So integration and regional approaches are necessary,” Hodges added.

    For his part, Gainey said some European countries are interested in adopting the U.S. Army’s modernized capability, including the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor as well as the Integrated Battle Command System. Poland, for example, is the first country to field the latter.

    “Patriot has a place,” Gainey said. “They will still operate out there hand in hand until we fully modernize the air and missile defense force.”

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  • Albany Rifles
    Not bad for a weapons system which has been in service with the US Army since 1981 - 43 years. And much of this expansion was due to funding for Ukraine in 22-23...proof over 80 cents of every dollar of aid to Ukraine is used in the US. And this also helps fill requirements for other allies and partners for their needs.

    How companies plan to ramp up production of Patriot missiles

    By Jen Judson
    Apr 9, 04:50 AM
    German soldiers fire a Patriot weapons system in Chania, Greece, on Nov. 8, 2017. (Sebastian Apel/U.S. Defense Department via AP)Amid a significant use of missiles in Ukraine and the Middle East, customers are ramping up independent production of some of the weapons the Patriot air defense system can launch at an unprecedented scale.

    The United States, where Patriot manufacturer RTX is based, is trying to contend with the rapid use of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles in its military operations while ensuring it has enough stockpiled in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. (Beijing considers the island nation a rogue province and has threatened to take it back by force.)

    Missile production is increasing in the U.S., particularly the Lockheed Martin-made PAC-3 MSE missiles, the most capable variant. The company is making hundreds of them over the next two years.

    Lockheed was building 350 MSE missiles a year in 2018 and was working to ramp up its production to 500 missiles a year prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

    Lockheed is now fully funded by the U.S. Army to build 550 missiles a year at its Camden, Arkansas, production line. In December, Lockheed hit a rate of 500 per year, Brenda Davidson, the company’s vice president of PAC-3 programs, told Defense News.

    The business built a new 85,000-square-foot facility to make PAC-3 MSE missiles complete. The location features a variety of automated systems that make production a smoother and more efficient process, Davidson said.

    While the Army has yet to fund another missile production increase, Lockheed decided in the latter part of 2022 that it would continue to invest internally to be able to build 650 a year. “Lockheed could see the demand out there,” Davidson said, adding that the company plans to hit that number in 2027.

    Additionally, Lockheed has worked to stabilize its supply chain as much as possible, Davidson said. Aerojet Rocketdyne supplies the solid-rocket motor and is co-located in the same industrial park as Lockheed in Camden. Boeing supplies the seeker and has spent its own capital to keep up with demand.

    Lockheed has also added a variety of second-source suppliers to mitigate risk in the supply chain, Davidson said, and is funding sub-tier suppliers to ensure they have the right tooling and test equipment — and are on the same page in terms of what the program requires.

    It’s unclear if the U.S. Army sees a need to ramp up its Patriot missile production beyond 650 missiles a year. But Emily Harding, deputy director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Pentagon must encourage industry to continue investments that allow for the rapid production of much-needed missiles.

    The department, she explained, should essentially tell industry: “Even if, let’s just say for a second, that peace breaks out across the globe tomorrow, we will still fulfill those contracts, so please build them.”

    During a December defense conference in Washington, D.C., Army acquisition chief, Doug Bush, sent out a subtle signal, stating that while the draw on Patriot “has been manageable for Ukraine because they have other systems that are helping as well ... the long-term challenge of just having Patriot missiles for a Pacific scenario is the other reason we are asking Congress for support of that investment.”

    The Army is “providing stuff out of stock. The build-back time is the concern,” he added.

    The service needs supplemental funding, Bush said, in order to ramp up capability like the PAC-3 MSE weapon, noting the pending supplemental request to replenish American stockpiles of weapons and equipment sent to Ukraine includes $750 million to help Lockheed increase capacity by more than 100 a year over its current capacity.

    The Senate passed a supplemental funding bill, which included a Ukraine aid package, that would contribute to ramping up the PAC-3 MSE capability, but the legislation is held up in the House.

    While stalled during the first half of the fiscal year, the Army will be able to move forward to cement a multiyear contract for PAC-3 MSE missiles through the recent passage last month of the fiscal 2024 defense appropriations bill.
    The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement weapon broke its own distant record to take out an air-breathing target simulating a cruise missile or fixed-wing aircraft, during a U.S. Army-led test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

    Lockheed continues to place its bet through internal investments and work with suppliers that have long-lead times to deliver subcomponents and parts, Davidson said. And the company continuously talks to the Army about how much more the business could and should ramp up production, she added.

    Even without Army funds, “demand for PAC-3 MSE just continues to increase,” Davidson said, noting the company signed six letters of approval last year from international customers.

    Lockheed is also pitching the PAC-3 MSE to the U.S. Navy, and is spending $100 million to integrate the missile with the service’s Aegis combat system.

    The company plans to test this spring whether it can fire the missiles from a vertical launch system tied into Aegis’s command-and-control technology and the SPY-1 radar. If successful, the hope is the Navy or Pentagon will conduct further tests that could lead to an initial operational capability on a ship.

    Seeker supply, rocket motor boost

    Boeing, which supplies the seeker for the PAC-3 MSE missile, is also spending money internally to align with Lockheed’s production increase plans, according to Jim Bryan, Boeing’s director of integrated air and missile defense programs.

    While Boeing had made some incremental expansions, the company decided last year that “the demand signals were strong enough that [it] went out ahead of any government funding to invest” in a 35,000-square-foot factory expansion for its seekers, which equates to a 30% production capacity increase, Bryan said.

    Bryan added that Boeing can build seekers to keep up with the planned 650 missile production rate using the facility it has, but the new location will feature added efficiencies such as the addition of a variety of automated systems to include inspections and robotic soldering.

    The new facility also sets up the company to meet “much higher” demand signals above 650, Bryan added.

    Meanwhile, orders for solid-rocket motors used on a wide variety of munitions is straining current suppliers Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne. However, the solid-rocket motor industry is growing with some newcomers.

    Still, PAC-3 MSE production is weathering that flex in supply and demand, according to Davidson. Aerojet Rocketdyne makes the solid-rocket motors that go with PAC-3 MSE missiles right next door to Lockheed’s missile production line in Camden.
    L3Harris Technologies in July 2023 acquired Aerojet Rocketdyne, which produces rocket engines for main-stage, upper-stage and in-space propulsion. (Aerojet Rocketdyne)

    Aerojet opened a 51,000-square-foot facility in the same industrial park in 2022, where it is producing the PAC-3 MSE propulsion system. All of those manufacturing activities are under one roof and is positioning the company, acquired by L3Harris Technologies in July 2023, to significantly increase production rates, Aerojet Rocketdyne has said.

    “As we continue to modernize and expand, we have been building in the ability to surge beyond current requirements, including adding manufacturing space and equipment,” Ross Niebergall, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s president, told Defense News in a written statement.

    Aerojet has increased rocket motor production from about 70,000 in 2021 to 115,000 in 2023 — a more than 60% increase — the company said. These motors range from ones that can fit in the palm of your hand to the size of a small car. The increases, the company stressed, are tied to contract requirements.

    Challenges still remain, Niebergall added. “Solid rocket motor production relies on several important components and materials, and regardless of the number of solid rocket motor providers that exist, we each require these same components and materials — and more significantly, the suppliers who produce them.”

    The company is working to partner with suppliers to come up with solutions and ensure they have what they need in terms of capacity and flexibility to support production, according to Niebergall, and it is spending money to support suppliers.

    “Thanks to significant internal and government investments, we’re expanding and modernizing key production locations across the country, investing in digital engineering, and pursuing collaborations,” Niebergall said.

    Foreign contribution

    Meanwhile, in Europe, countries have realized amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that they need a greater magazine depth for air defense forces, according to Tom Laliberty, Raytheon’s president of land and air defense systems.

    Four NATO countries — Germany, Romania, Spain and the Netherlands — are coming together to buy 1,000 PAC-2 GEM-T missiles and will do a large amount of production in those countries, primarily Germany.

    By pooling their resources, the countries get an economic order discount, and since they are being bought collectively, the missiles will be distributed based on priority of need, Laliberty explained.

    Raytheon went under contract at the beginning of the year with NATO. While some components will still be made stateside, Raytheon is expanding its supplier base in Europe to build critical GEM-T components and will build an all-up round integration and test facility with Germany’s MBDA.

    MBDA subsidiary Bayern-Chemie will become a new rocket motor manufacturer for the missile, and another company in Spain will build a new control actuation system.

    Overall, Raytheon’s production of PAC-2 GEM-T missiles is ongoing, with a contracted backlog of approximately 1,500 missiles, including the NATO order and an estimated near-term demand of an additional 1,000 missiles. The company is producing roughly 20 missiles a month and, with the added capacity being through international initiatives, is on a path to reach 35 missiles a month by the end of 2027, according to Laliberty.

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  • TopHatter
    U.S. announces $138 million in emergency military sales of Hawk missile systems support for Ukraine

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department has greenlighted an emergency $138 million in foreign military sales for Ukraine to provide critical repairs and spare parts for Kyiv’s Hawk missile systems.

    The U.S. announced the move Tuesday saying that Ukraine has an urgent need for the maintenance support to keep the missile system running.

    The announcement follows a similar, small-sized round of $300 million in munitions support the Pentagon announced last month after it was able to convert contract savings to be able to offset the cost of providing the aid. Both the State and Defense Departments have been looking for ways to continue to get Ukraine support while a $60 billion Ukraine aid package remains stalled in Congress.

    The HAWK is a medium range surface-to-air missile system that provides air defense, which is one of Ukraine's top security needs.

    “Ukraine has an urgent need to increase its capabilities to defend against Russian missile strikes and the aerial capabilities of Russian forces,” the State Department said in a memo outlining the sale. “Maintaining and sustaining the HAWK Weapon System will enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend its people and protect critical national infrastructure.”

    During a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said without the support — the U.S. risks that Ukraine will fall to Russia.

    “Ukraine matters, and the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine will have global implications for our national security as well,” Austin said.

    If Kyiv falls, it could imperil Ukraine’s Baltic NATO member neighbors and potentially drag U.S. troops into a prolonged European war.

    The work on the Hawk systems will be performed by contractors from Massachusetts-based RTX Corporation, formerly known as Raytheon and Huntsville, Alabama-based PROJECTXYZ. The State Department said the parts needed to repair the systems will come from U.S. Army stock, third-country donations, commercial off-the-shelf components and new production.

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