The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is the Council’s affiliated 501(c)(3) research organization.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE DISPUTE CONTROLLED TERRITORY
Russia announced that it controls the small salt-mining town of Soledar, but Ukrainian officials deny this conquest. The town is symbolically important to both sides of the war as it would be the first Russian success after months of attrition on the central Donbas front. British intelligence officials have contested Russian claims and countered that as of this week, Ukrainian forces “almost certainly maintained positions” in the town. The Kremlin seems to be using a paramilitary organization called the Wagner Group, but conflicting statements between the Russian Ministry of Defense and Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin signal a rift within the armed forces.
Senior Policy Director John Erath told Newsweek in December that the critical factor in the war nearly one year in has been the Ukrainian “will to resist.”
He spoke with Newsweek again last week explaining the differences between U.S. and Russian warfighting priorities, noting that Russia approached the war in Ukraine by sending in many troops and vehicles in an attempt to overwhelm. “When that didn’t work, they had no plan B. Ukraine understood how Russia would approach a conflict and prepared accordingly.”
The question remains whether Russian desperation will cause it to consider nuclear force to make up for its failing conventional efforts, Erath said.
“No sign of that yet, but should the futility on the ground continue, there remains the possibility that some in Moscow will look for alternatives and think of nuclear weapons as an option.”
As part of the negotiations that led to the election of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R), the Freedom Caucus — a group of GOP lawmakers — received assurances that the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2024 will be frozen at the Fiscal Year 2022 level, which could effectively mean a cut to the Pentagon budget by anywhere from $75 to $100 billion. This apparent pledge produced outrage from both GOP defense hawks and the Biden administration.
Whatever opinion some may have of the group’s various political opinions on a range of issues — or even with the motivations for this proposed reduction — when considering that Congress voted for an unwise and unwarranted (by any reasonable security considerations) $76 billion increase in defense spending in Fiscal Year 2023 to $858 billion, we agree that the defense budget could — and should — be substantially pared back.
SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT CONSIDERS NUCLEAR WEAPONS
President Yoon Suk-yeol declared that South Korea could develop nuclear weapons or ask the United States to redeploy them to the Korea Peninsula if the threat of attack from North Korea continues to grow. The statement comes after the North conducted a record number of missile tests last year. The development of nuclear weapons would remove South Korea from the Nonproliferation Treaty and effectively end the longstanding U.S. policy goal to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Experts speculate that Yoon may be seeking to put pressure on the United States to deepen its extended deterrence umbrella as well as pressure China to rein in the North.
Senate candidates have begun gearing up their campaigns for the November 2024 elections:
California: Two Members of the House have launched their campaigns for the expected open Senate seat if Sen. Dianne Feinstein decides to retire. Reps. Katie Porter (D) and Barbara Lee (D) have begun organizing their campaigns and there is likely to be a host of additional candidates.
Ohio: 2022 candidateMatt Dolan (R), who ran for Senate in 2022 but lost the primary, is challenging longtime Council endorsee Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), the only remaining statewide Democratic office holder.
West Virginia: Rep. Alex Mooney (R) has announced that he will challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D). Gov. Jim Justice (R) has indicated he may run as well.
Michigan: Longtime Council endorsee Sen. Debbie Stabenow has declared she will not run again. Several House Democrats are considering running.
Indiana: Incumbent Sen. Mike Braun (R) will run for governor rather than reelection. Rep. Jim Banks (R) is the first candidate for Braun’s seat. There could be a battle between the two wings of the GOP if former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) also runs.
Missouri: Lucas Kunce (D),director of national security at the American Economic Liberties Project, is challenging hard-right Sen. Josh Hawley (R).
The Council intends to make its first endorsements of the 2024 cycle this summer.
Elections are over and now it’s time for the Council to ramp up its advocacy work on Capitol Hill. Have you considered making a monthly donation to support our efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear threats through political action? You can donate as little as $1 a month. Become a monthly supporter today!
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