Defense and national security: Europe sends a dire warning about Mariupol

A European official said Tuesday that Russia will control the Ukrainian city of Mariupol within days and warned that the atrocities will far exceed what the world has witnessed so far.

We’ll dig into the warning, plus, a Senate panel is preparing to release the results of its investigation into the mistreatment of military families by private housing contractors.

This is Defense and National Security, your late-night guide to the latest happenings at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. Sign up here.

European official warns that Mariupol will fall in a few days

The Ukrainian city of Mariupol will be controlled by Russia within days, according to an assessment by a European official, who has warned that atrocities against civilians in the southern port city will likely far exceed the massacres witnessed in Bucha.

“Mariupol will be controlled in the next few days,” the official said.

The warning comes two days after Ukraine rejected Russia’s demands to surrender in Mariupol, and Russia is seeking a renewed effort in eastern Ukraine.

The main objective’: The European official said Mariupol is Moscow’s “main target,” and the city is key for Russian forces to establish a land bridge from Crimea to Donbas, from southern Ukraine to its eastern territory.

Putin’s goals are to seize all of Donbas, including the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which Russia recognized as a pretext to invade Ukraine, as well as capturing Mariupol and the Kherson region in the southeast to maintain naval superiority.

The European official said a “reasonable and realistic assessment” is that Russia’s offensive in these regions will last four to six months before reaching a stalemate with Ukrainian forces, but will provide Moscow with a stronger hand in any negotiations. .

How Ukraine can fight back: The official said that Ukraine has an advantage with high morale among its troops, especially after the Ukrainian attack that sank the Russian navy flagship Moskva in the Sea of ​​Azov. Ukrainian forces also have an advantage in the southeast of the country because “they know the terrain by heart,” the official said.

Ukrainian forces will use “mobility and agility” tactics to combat Russian troops in the east, with a combination of anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-tank munitions, and that will seek to bring Russia to a standstill and force more negotiations. .

Damage already done: Early reports from Mariupol documented atrocities and alleged war crimes, such as the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital; shelters marked as housing for children and civil infrastructure.

Satellite imagery has reportedly shown that around 90 percent of the city is destroyed, with Ukrainian city officials estimating civilian casualties in the tens of thousands, due to a combination of suffering under military attacks and hungry, with a lack of access to food, water and electricity.

The Pentagon’s opinion: A senior US defense official said Tuesday that the Ukrainians are still fighting over Mariupol, adding that weather has impeded the US’s ability to gather more information.

“It is clear that the Russians want to take Mariupol. It is also clear that the Ukrainians are not ready to give up, certainly not without a fight,” the official said. “And that fight continues. We just don’t have the level of specificity to tell you how many troops are in each part of the city and what they’re doing, we just can’t see that. But generally speaking, Mariupol is still being fought over.”

Read the full story here.

Biden joins his allies in the Russia-Ukraine war

President Biden held a video conference with allies to discuss international support for Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

The leaders “affirmed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemned the humanitarian suffering caused by Russia’s unprovoked and unwarranted invasion,” a White House readout of the call read.

“They also discussed their coordinated efforts to impose severe economic costs to hold Russia accountable. They committed to continuing to consult closely, including working with and through the G7, the EU and NATO,” the reading continued.

The call comes before Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with his Polish and Czech counterparts at the Pentagon later this week, during which the war in Ukraine will be discussed.


Vice President Harris announced Monday that the United States will avoid testing antisatellite missiles and urged other nations to follow the lead of the Biden administration after a Russian test last November created a debris field in space.

The goal: Administration officials expressed hope that the policy would become an international norm for other nations to adhere to, calling antisatellite missile tests “one of the most pressing threats to the security and sustainability of space.”

The administration believes that reducing missile tests in space will reduce the risk of conflict in space and keep space free of debris and materials that would prohibit exploration or harm the environment.

The threat of satellite missiles: The threat of anti-satellite missile tests came to light last November when Russia tested a missile that hit a missing space satellite, leaving at least 1,500 pieces of traceable space debris and hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces in its wake.

The test drew protest from US officials and lawmakers, who said the debris could endanger astronauts and other satellites and warned of Russia’s potential interest in militarizing space.

Harris’s journey to Vanderberg: Harris announced the self-imposed ban on the tests, known as direct ascent antisatellite missile tests, during a visit to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

While at the Space Force base, Harris was briefed on the work of the Space Force and US Space Command and met with members of the Space Force.

Read more here.

Senate panel goes after abuse by military contractors

A subpanel of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing next week on the alleged mistreatment of military families in privatized housing.

Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the panel’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, scheduled the hearing for April 26 after investigating the issue. for eight months.

Ossoff and Johnson plan to release a bipartisan report on their findings that day.

A bipartisan issue: Abuse by private military contractors has been a bipartisan issue, and last year made headlines when one of the largest contractors pleaded guilty to defrauding the military.

In December, Balfour Beatty Communities was ordered to pay more than $65 million after pleading guilty to lying to the Pentagon about poor housing conditions in order to obtain performance bonuses. The community provided housing for 21 Air Force, 16 Army, and 18 Navy bases across the country.

How the Pentagon manages contractors: A Government Accountability Office report released in March found that the Pentagon has greatly stepped up its oversight of private contractors but will continue to face difficulties because it cannot make changes to housing contracts without the company’s consent.

Read more here.


  • President Biden will meet with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and combatant commanders at 4 p.m. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host a dinner for them and their families at 5:30 p.m.
  • The Armed Forces Electronics and Communications Association will host its Cyber ​​Mission Summit at 8:45 am
  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host a discussion on monitoring the evolution of counterspace weapons in 9 a.m.
  • TheThe National Defense Industrial Association will host a discussion on “Department of Defense Science and Technology Budget Priorities for Fiscal Year 2023” at 9 a.m.
  • The Stimson Center will host an event on “Empowering Congress and the Executive to Advance Human Rights” at 9:30 am
  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host a discussion titled “Elusive Balance Sheets: Shaping US-Southeast Asian Strategy” at 10 a.m.
  • the internationalThe Press Center will organize a debate on “The Future of Danish Defense” at 10 am
  • The SETA Foundation in Washington DC will host a discussion on “NATO’s Response and US Policy on Ukraine” at 10 am
  • Palo Alto Networks will host a discussion on “The Role of Cyber ​​in Hybrid Warfare and Great Power Competition/Conflict” at 10:30 am.
  • The Association of the U.S. Army will present its “Midday Report: Leadership and Cooperation in Action: Allies and Partners at USARCENT/USCENTCOM” at 12 pm
  • The Hudson Institute will host a discussion titled “One Size Fits All: Revision of JADC2 to Deliver Customized Solutions to the US Military.” at 2 pm
  • The World Policy Institute will host the 10th Annual Ronald Reagan Intelligence Conference on Strategic Deception and Active Measures at 5 p.m.
  • The East-West Center will present “After the Invasion: How the Russian Invasion of Ukraine is Affecting US Relations with the Indo-Pacific” at 6 p.m.


Is all for today. Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!


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