Prospects for quick resolution to Ukraine crisis dim as US and Russian diplomats meet in Geneva – Washington Examiner


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 | January 10, 2022 07: 11 AM

BLINKEN’S CAUTIOUS PESSIMISM: In appearances on CNN and ABC Sunday, and at a State Department news conference Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed pessimism that talks today between U.S. and Russian diplomats in Geneva would produce any quick breakthrough, as Russia has staged 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine.

“It's hard to see making actual progress, as opposed to talking, in an atmosphere of escalation with a gun to Ukraine's head. So, if we're actually going to make progress, we're going to have to see de-escalation, Russia pulling back from the threat that it currently poses to Ukraine,” Blinken said on CNN.

“There are two paths before us. There's a path of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation. The other path is confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine,” Blinken said. “We're going to listen to Russia's concerns. They're going to have to listen to our concerns. If they are proceeding in good faith, we think we can make progress in addressing concerns on both sides that would reduce tensions and deal with improving security.”


A FULL WEEK OF NEGOTIATIONS: Today’s face-to-face sit down between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is just the first of a series of negotiating sessions set for this week, including a session of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels followed by a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday.

Today at NATO headquarters, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met with Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna, and after an urgent meet with NATO foreign ministers on Friday, Stoltenberg again said many of Russia’s demand were non-starters, including its insistence that NATO curb its eastward expansion and curtail military exercises and troop deployments in Ukraine and other former Soviet nations.

“So, there's no way NATO can compromise on the principle of the right of every nation to choose its own path,” Stoltenberg said Friday. “We cannot end up in a situation where we have kind of second class NATO members, where NATO as an alliance is not allowed to protect them in the same way as we protect the other allies.”

Stoltenberg said the alliance is open to renewed talks on limiting deployment of missiles, so long as the agreement is reciprocal and Russia complies with the terms. “So, balanced, verifiable arms control, yes. One-sided demands on NATO, no. And that's the big difference.”

‘SCOPE AND SCALE’ OF EXERCISES: On ABC, Blinken said the U.S. is open to discussing possible limits to U.S. and NATO exercises in countries bordering Russia, so long as Russia limits its exercises and troop deployments similar to the provision of the Cold War era Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. “There are confidence-building measures, there are risk reduction measures, all of which, if done reciprocally, I think can really reduce tensions and address concerns,” Blinken said. “There are agreements on the deployment of conventional forces in Europe, things like the scope and scale of exercises that if adhered to reciprocally, that is Russia makes good on its commitments, which it's repeatedly violated, then there are grounds for reducing tensions.”

The diplomacy is aimed at convincing Russian President Vladimir Putin that he’ll get more of what he wants in terms of security guarantees if he does not invade. “I'm not going to telegraph the details, but I think Russia has a pretty good idea of the kinds of things it would face if it renews its aggression,” Blinken said on CNN.

“We will continue to provide and supply Ukraine with defensive military equipment to be able to defend itself. And it's also clear that, in the event of further Russian aggression, NATO is going to have to further reinforce its eastern flank,” Blinken said. “What's interesting about all of this is that President Putin talks about lots of things he's concerned about, and yet the very actions he's taken have precipitated much of what he says he wants to prevent.”


Good Monday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is back at work at his third floor Pentagon office this morning after testing negative for COVID-19 yesterday. Austin spent a week in quarantine after contracting COVID-19 and experiencing mild systems.

By Friday, when he took part in a virtual meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Austin was feeling better, and the Pentagon announced he got the all-clear to return to work today.

“Secretary Austin is grateful for efficacy of the vaccines he was administered. He knows that they rendered much less severe the effects of the virus,” said spokesman John Kirby in a statement last night. “He will, of course, continue to observe both CDC guidelines and the Pentagon’s HPCON Charlie protocols when it comes to masking, social distancing and meetings.”

Kirby said that as of this morning, there are no other senior Pentagon leaders who are known to have contracted the virus.

On Friday, the Pentagon released new guidance on COVID-19 prevention that applies to all Defense Department workers, not just the Pentagon.

CENTCOM NOMINEE: President Joe Biden has nominated a three-star Army general with a decade of service in the Middle East to succeed Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, who is scheduled to retire in April as commander, U.S. Central Command.

The nomination of Army Lt. Gen. Michael E. Kurilla to get his fourth star and take over one of the busiest combatant commands was forwarded to the Senate last week. Kurilla is currently serving as commanding general, 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


N. KOREA’S HYPERSONIC HYPE: The folks at 38 North, a North Korea monitoring site, are among the experts trying to figure out just what North Korea launched last week when it claimed a successful test of a hypersonic glide vehicle.

The analysts say this month’s test carried a payload that more closely resembles a traditional maneuvering reentry vehicle (MaRV) than an arrow-shaped boost-glide vehicle.

“It is not clear from the available data whether the payload of the January 2022 missile is a traditional MaRV or a conical boost-glide vehicle (BGV) like the US Common-Hypersonic Glide Body … Either one, as well as a standard ballistic reentry vehicle, would technically be “hypersonic,” the 38 North analysis says. “A BGV would be capable of greater speed and maneuverability, and would be more technically demanding than a MaRV, but either type of payload would be useful in evading US and allied missile defenses.”


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: White House taps Army general to head Central Command

Washington Examiner: State Department: Biden 'not weighing cuts' to military presence in Europe

Washington Examiner: Blinken warns of possible Russian false flag attack against Ukraine

Washington Examiner: White House worried Iran is plotting assassination attempts against Trump administration officials

Washington Examiner: Defense officials fear ISIS-K and al Qaeda threats in Afghanistan growing as months go by

Washington Examiner: Private efforts to get vulnerable people out of Afghanistan running on fumes

Washington Examiner: Afghan baby found and reunited with family after being handed to US Marine at Kabul airport

Washington Examiner: WWII soldier’s letter to mother delivered nearly eight decades late

Washington Examiner: Turkey announces name change to Turkiye, citing need to represent 'culture' and 'values'

AP: Biden shied away from news conferences, interviews in Year 1

AP: Nearly 8,000 detained in Kazakhstan amid unrest

Wall Street Journal: Beijing Watches Civil Unrest In Kazakhstan With Wary Eye

Air Force Magazine: Boeing’s Updated Valkyrie Reveals Evolving Hypersonic Design

Air Force Times: Unvaccinated Airmen Lose Pay, Benefits as Air National Guard Yanks Orders

NPR: Unvaccinated Guard Members Can't be Deployed to Hospitals

AP: Marine Officer Blames Bad Information For Sinking Tragedy Quantico Rings Up $188 Million Bill For Afghan Refugees Housed In Tents

NBC: Disclosure Or Deception? New UFO Pentagon Office Divides Believers If Russia Invades Ukraine: How Much Damage Can Sanctions Do? Does a Space War Mean a Nuclear War? Why the US Navy Might (Or Might Not) Build Big Warships Again

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Kowtowing to Putin, Chris Murphy and Senate Democrats offer laughable spin on Nord Stream 2



5 p.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies webcast launching the inaugural CSIS Australia Chair, including a discussion on the state of the U.S.-Australia alliance with, Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs on the National Security Council; Anthony Pratt, executive chairman, Visy Industries and Pratt Industries; Kori Schake, senior fellow and director of foreign and defense policy studies, American Enterprise Institute; and Arthur Sinodinos, Australia’s ambassador to the U.S.


10 a.m. — Joint closed hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committee on “U.S. Policy on Afghanistan,” with secret testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin  CLOSED, no webcast.

10: 30 a.m. — New America virtual discussion: “Guantanamo at Twenty: What is the Future of the Prison Camp?" with Karen Greenberg, director of the Fordham Law School's Center on National Security and author of "Subtle Tools: The Dismantling of American Democracy From the War on Terror to Donald Trump"; Thomas Wilner, co-founder of Close Guantanamo; Andy Worthington, co-founder of Close Guantanamo and author of "The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America"; and Peter Bergen, vice president of global studies and fellows at New America

10 a.m. 2118 Rayburn — House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing: “Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility: The Current Crisis, the Response, and the Way Forward,” with testimony from Vice Adm. Yancy Lindsey, commander, Navy Installations Command; Rear Adm. Blake Converse, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Rear Adm. John Korka, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command; Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos, commander, Naval Supply Systems Command; and Capt. Michael McGinnis, Pacific fleet surgeon, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet

2 p.m. — Government Executive Media Group virtual discussion: “Evolving at the Pace of Cyber Threats,” with Kevin Walsh, director of information technology and security, Government Accountability Office; David Ortega, principal solutions architect, Thales Digital Identity and Security Group; and James Hanson, group publisher, Federal Nextgov


9 a.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual “Schriever Spacepower Forum” with Derek Tournear, director of the Space Development Agency; and Christopher Stone, senior fellow for space studies, Mitchell Institute Spacepower Advantage Center of Excellence

10 a.m. — U.S. Institute of Peace virtual discussion: “Is Governance the Taliban's Achilles Heel? Assessing Five Months of Rights and Services Reversals in Afghanistan,” with Rahmatullah Amiri, independent researcher and author; Scott Worden, director of Afghanistan and Central Asia at USIP; Belquis Ahmadi, senior program officer for Afghanistan at USIP; and Andrew Watkins, senior expert on Afghanistan at USIP

12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual event: “China’s Coercive Missile Strategy and the US Response,” with Mark Lewis, executive director, Emerging Technologies Institute, National Defense Industrial Association; Christopher Yeaw, associate executive director, strategic deterrence and nuclear programs, National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska; Timothy Walton, fellow, Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, Hudson Institute; and Rebeccah Heinrichs, senior fellow and director, Keystone Defense Initiative, Hudson Institute

2 a.m. EST/8: 30 a.m. CET — NATO’s Military Committee, its highest military authority, meets for two days in Brussels, Belgium, with opening remarks by Adm. Rob Bauer, of the Royal Netherlands Navy, chair of the Military Committee. The meeting includes all the military chefs from the 30 NATO nations, as well as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Gen. Tod Wolters.

2 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. N.W. — Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion on "Emerging Technologies & Long Range Strike,” with Army Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, director for hypersonics, directed energy, space and rapid acquisition in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology

7: 30 a.m. EST/1: 30 p.m. CET Brussels, Belgium — Press conference at NATO headquarters by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council


9 a.m. — CMC Gen. Berger (9 a.m.); SECNAV Del Toro (8 p.m.) speak @ 34th Surface Navy Association National Symposium (in-person/virtual), Hyatt Regency Crystal City

9: 30 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion with former South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Wi Sung-lac, foreign policy adviser to South Korean Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-Myung; and Sue Mi Terry, director of the Wilson Center's Center for Korean History and Public Policy

3: 30 p.m. — George Washington University Project for Media and National Security Defense Writers Group conversation with Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.

2 p.m. — Quincey Institute for Responsible Statecraft virtual book discussion on "Why Foreign-Imposed Regime Change Goes Wrong," with author Alexander Downe, associate professor at George Washington University and co-director of the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies; and Trita Parsi, co-founder and former president of the National Iranian American Council

5 p.m. — Institute of World Politics webinar: “Global Security in the Era of Advanced AI,” with Mark Beall, senior manager for strategy at Amazon Web Services

5: 30 p.m. — National Security Institute NatSec Nightcap event: “Maintaining U.S. Global Leadership and Confronting Tomorrow's Threats,” with former U.S. Central Commander retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel; and Jamil Jaffer, founder and executive director, National Security Institute


10 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies and U.S. Naval Institute event: “Maritime Security Dialogue: 5th Fleet Mission and Operations Update,” with Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, U.S. naval forces, Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces; and retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly, chief executive officer and publisher, U.S. Naval Institute


“There are two paths before us. There's a path of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation. The other path is confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine. We're about to test the proposition about which path President Putin is prepared to take.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on CNN Sunday.

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