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It’s Budget Day, Obama (and Congress) Weigh Economic and Diplomatic Penalties Against Russia It’s Budget Day, Obama (and Congress) Weigh Economic and Diplomatic ...

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It’s Budget Day, Obama (and Congress) Weigh Economic and Diplomatic Penalties Against Russia

By Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ) and Jordain Carney (@jordainc)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web.


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DoD Pushes Forward on Pay, Benefits Cuts
(Marine Corps Times: Andrew Tilghman)
Never in the 40-year history of the all-volunteer force has the Pentagon sought to roll back the existing military compensation package for service members. Until now.


Putin Ends Military Exercise on Ukraine Border
(The New York Times: Steven Lee Myers, Steven Erlanger, David Herszenhorn)
Although the maneuvers that started last week coincided with the deployment of Russian troops to Crimea, nothing suggested that operations there would end.

Pentagon Suspends Military Ties With Russia
(The Wall Street Journal: Dion Nissenbaum)
Defense Department says decision halts joint naval exercise planned for May.

Obama: Russia Is Acting With Impunity in Ukraine
(USA Today: Aamer Madhani)
Obama said his administration continues to weigh economic and diplomatic penalties against Russia after Putin deployed thousands of troops into the semiautonomous Crimean region of Ukraine.

What Congress Can Do About Russia
(National Journal: Elahe Izadi)
Lawmakers weigh everything from sanctions to aid in response to Ukraine invasion.


Obama Pushes Mideast Compromise in Meeting with Netanyahu
(The Wall Street Journal: Carol Lee)
Says agreement possible, but both sides need to make more compromises.

Air Force Academy Investigates Possible Cheating
(Associated Press)
The Air Force Academy is investigating whether 40 freshman cadets cheated in a chemistry class.


Kerry Heads to Ukraine as West Ponders Sanctions
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday will be reinforcing Washington's support for the new government in Kiev.

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Putin Hopes No Need to Use Force in Ukraine's East
(Associated Press)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin says that Russia is ready to use all means to protect Russians in Ukraine, but hopes he will not have to use force in eastern Ukraine.

Biting Words but No Action at Security Council Meeting
(The New York Times: Somini Sengupta)
The United Nations Security Council's emergency meeting was its third in four days on Ukraine.

Top Russians Face Sanctions by U.S. for Crimea Crisis
(The New York Times: Peter Baker)
The Obama administration suspended military ties to Russia, including exercises, port visits and planning meetings, just a day after calling off trade talks.

Russian Markets Shudder Under Threat of Sanctions
(The Wall Street Journal: Greg White, Laurence Norman, Andrey Ostroukh)
The Obama administration took the first steps late Monday, suspending military cooperation with Russia as well as talks aimed at boosting trade and investment, in a bid to isolate Moscow.

Behind the West's Miscalculations in Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous, Laurence Norman)
U.S. had let Europe take lead in guiding westward drift of former Soviet Republic.

As Obama and Netanyahu Meet, Ukraine Becomes a Focus of Conversation
(The New York Times: Mark Landler, Anne Barnard)
The West's standoff with Russia could complicate American efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program, resolve Syria's civil war and even broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

U.S. Suspends Trade and Investment Talks With Russia
(The Wall Street Journal: William Mauldin, Michael Crittenden, Carol Lee)
The Obama administration suspended trade and military ties with Moscow and said Monday that punitive sanctions against Russia now are "likely."

Obama: Russian Invasion of Ukraine 'Will Be a Costly Proposition'
(The Washington Post: Aaron Blake)
President Obama warned of dire economic consequences for Russia if it pursues a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. Calls Any Threat to Ukraine Navy 'Dangerous'
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
The Obama administration said Monday that any Russian threat to Ukraine's navy would be a "dangerous escalation" of an extremely tense situation.

Poland Requests Tuesday NATO Meeting on Russia, Ukraine
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
NATO's 28 members will meet today on Russia's incursion into Ukraine following a request by Poland.

Ukraine Crisis: U.S.-Europe Rifts Surfacing as Putin Tightens Crimea Grip
(The Guardian: Ian Traynor, Shaun Walker, Paul Lewis, Nicholas Watt)
Obama threatens to "isolate Russia" as E.U. ministers resist trade sanctions

E.U. Halts Russia Talks, Threatens Sanctions
(Associated Press: Raf Casert, Juergen Baetz)
The European Union is threatening to freeze visa liberalization and economic cooperation talks and boycott the G-8 summit in Russia's Sochi.

Joe Biden Urges Russia to Pull Forces Back From Ukraine
Vice President Joe Biden urged Russia to pull its forces back from Ukraine in a phone call Monday with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

If Any U.S. Troops Go to Ukraine, It Will Probably Be These Guys
(War Is Boring: Joe Trevithick)
Army paratroopers in Italy could be ready in hours.

Ukraine Will 'Never Give Up' Crimea, Says Premier
(Time: Kharunya Paramuguru, Nate Rawlings)
But Arseniy Yatseniuk says there are "no military options on the table" as yet.

Russia Sets Ukraine Agenda With Diplomacy, Threats
(Associated Press: David McHugh, Dalton Bennet)
Russia called for the adoption of a national unity deal in Ukraine even as it tightened its stranglehold over Crimea, an audacious combination of diplomacy and escalating military pressure.

Moscow: Troops in Ukraine Defending Russians
(Associated Press: John Heilprin)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also urged Kiev to comply with a deal that opposing Ukrainian sides had reached on Feb. 21 but Moscow did not sign.

Russia Seizes Border Posts in Crimea, Says Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal: Margaret Coker, Alexander Kolyandr, Andrey Ostroukh)
Ukraine's premier: No evidence of Russian forces pushing out of Crimea.

Putin's Crimea Propaganda Machine
(The Daily Beast: Oleg Shynkarenko)
To justify its invasion of Crimea, the Kremlin and state-run media went into full fabrication mode this weekend. Here are the lies that Russia is telling its viewers back home.

Pro-Russia Groups Take Over Government Buildings Across Ukraine
(The Guardian: Oksana Grytsenko)
Activists break into buildings in Donetsk, Odessa, and Luhansk as poll finds many in those areas would like reunification.

From Russia, 'Tourists' Stir the Protests
(The New York Times: Andrew Roth)
"Protest tourists" from across the border are joining demonstrations by ethnic Russians in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Russia Invades Ukraine's Air Space
(Reuters: Timothy Heritage)
Russian fighter jets twice violated Ukraine's airspace over the Black Sea during the night, Interfax news agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.

U.S. Sanctions on Russia Over Ukraine Would Need Europe: Senator
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle)
Murphy said that U.S. sanctions against Russia will have little effect if they are not matched by actions from Europe.

Harry Reid: Get Europe on Board Before Punishing Russia
(Politico: Manu Raju, Burgess Everett)
The United States should hold off on punishing Russia until the European community is on board with a specific response to the growing crisis in Ukraine, the Senate's top Democrat said.

Inhofe: Obama Has Ceded Global Influence to Russia
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
A senior Republican lawmaker said the day when U.S. surrenders its global influence and leaves a vacuum to be filled by Russia "is here."

McCain, Obama Team Agree: No Realistic Military Option on Ukraine
(National Journal: Jordain Carney)
But the Republican faults the president's foreign policy for the newly emboldened Putin.

'Russia Is Looking for a Hot War,' Says Georgia's Former President
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili knows a thing or two about Russian invasions. He warns that Ukraine may not be able to stop an all-out war with Russia.

On Ukraine, Congressional Hawks Find Restraint
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Amid powerful images of Russian military helicopters flying into Ukraine's Crimea district and Russian troops with heavy machine guns occupying its soil, there's something new in many US hawks' rhetoric: restraint.

As China Looks On, Putin Poses Risky Dilemma for the West
(Reuters: David Rohde)
Experts said the seizure of Crimea represents the most significant challenge to the system of international relations in place since the end of the Cold War.

Russia Might Lose Czech Nuclear Deal Over Ukraine
(Associated Press)
A Russian company might lose a multibillion-dollar contract to build two nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic following Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.

In Crimea, Russians Demand Ukraine Troops Swear Allegiance
(Los Angeles Times: Sergei Loiko)
The tense military standoff in Crimea continued Monday as Ukraine's army and naval forces were blockaded by invading Russian troops and supporters.


Lawmakers Divided on Possible 2017 BRAC Round
(Marine Corps Times: Andy Medici)
Lawmakers are split between lukewarm support, vehement opposition, and general uncertainty.

House Pressures Obama to Dismantle Iran's Enrichment Program
(Washington Free Beacon: Adam Kredo)
Reps. Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer authored a letter to President Obama asking him to ensure that Iran shut down nearly all of its nuclear-related facilities under a final deal.


In Planning for the Future, the Pentagon Sees Fewer Troops and More Technology
(The Washington Post: Walter Pincus)
Force numbers in this age of technology are only one measure of fighting capability.

Experts: DOD War Budget Will Remain Even if U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
The Defense Department will likely continue asking Congress for war funding separate from the Pentagon's base budget accounts and not subject to federal spending caps even if all American troops leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, experts say.

Suicidal Tendencies Are Evident Before Deployment, Study Finds
(The New York Times: Benedict Carey)
The effort to study soldiers began in 2008, after the suicide rate among active soldiers climbed above the civilian rate among young healthy adults for the first time.

Troops Have Used Fewer Food Stamps in 2014
(, Amy Bushatz)
Food-stamp usage at military commissaries plummeted over the first quarter of fiscal 2014, the first such drop since before the great recession.


Vietnam Veterans Sue Military Over PTSD
(Associated Press: John Christoffersen)
The U.S. military has failed to upgrade the discharges of Vietnam veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in stigma and loss of benefits.


U.N.: Iran Cuts Higher-Enriched Uranium Stock
(Associated Press: George Jahn)
Iran is cutting its stock of uranium that is closest to atomic-weapons-grade as mandated in a deal with six world powers, the head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Monday.


Is America's Only POW a Deserter?
(Associated Press: Deb Riechmann)
Questions linger about Bowe Bergdahl.


Navy Could Integrate Enlisted Females on Subs in 2016
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The Navy is taking steps to integrate enlisted females on submarines, beginning with a survey to every enlisted female in the Navy to gauge interest in serving on the ships.


Shyu Sings the Army Electric: 2015 Budget Sacrifices Weapons for Electronics
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg)
The 2015 budget effectively kills the Army's top-priority weapons program, the 60-plus-ton Ground Combat Vehicle, but it did not die in vain, the Army's acquisition chief insists.


Air Force Bets $41 Billion on Sequestration
( Richard Sisk)
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has placed a $41 billion bet that Congress will ease off on the mandatory spending cuts in the sequester process and also go along with a White House proposal to raise taxes.

Spy-Satellite Plan Keeps Eye on Threats in the Sky
(Florida Today: James Dean)
General: New Air Force spacecraft would act as orbital watchdogs to protect U.S. satellites.

Space Wing Commander on Hunt for Efficiency
(The Colorado Springs Gazette: Tom Roeder)
On the job for six months, the 21st Space Wing's boss is looking for answers.

Pacific Rotations
(Air Force Magazine: Marc Schanz)
Across Asia and the Pacific, USAF airmen will deploy to work with allied air arms.


Defense Stocks Rise Amid Ukrainian Crisis
(Politico: Austin Wright)
Top defense stocks rose on Monday afternoon even as the market tumbled amid an escalating standoff with Russia.

Ex-Blackwater Contractors Seek Dismissal of Case
(Associated Press: Eric Tucker)
Former security contractors charged in a deadly shooting in Iraq are asking a U.S. judge to dismiss the case against them.


After Prodding, U.S. State Department Labels Kunming Attack 'Terrorism'
(The New York Times: Didi Kirsten Tatlow)
Questioned by reporters, a State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, called the deadly attack in Kunming a terrorist attack, after the Chinese state news media accused overseas news agencies of failing to do so.

U.S.: North Korea Missile Launches Violate U.N. Resolutions
(Associated Press)
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the North launched two such short-range ballistic missiles from its southeast coast Monday morning that landed in the sea.

Japan Plans Special Force for Island Defense
(The Wall Street Journal: Yuka Hayashi)
The 3,000-troop amphibious unit would be similar to the U.S. Marines Corps.


Bin Laden Relative's Terrorism Trial May Fuel Debate Over Use of Civilian Courts
(The New York Times: Benjamin Weiser)
Abu Ghaith will be the most senior Bin Laden adviser to be tried in a civilian court since the Sept. 11 attacks, experts say.


Syrian Electronic Army Threatens to Hack CENTCOM
(Defense One: Patrick Tucker)
The Syrian Electronic Army takes to Twitter to threaten an attack on U.S. Central Command if the United States conducts cyberwarfare operations against Syria.

Obama to Press Israeli Leader on Mideast Peace
(Wall Street Journal: Carol Lee)
President Obama, seeking to narrow differences between the Israelis and Palestinians, said before meeting with Israel's leader that a peace deal remains possible but will require greater compromise from both sides.

U.S. Pushing Israel to Stop Assassinating Iranian Nuclear Scientists
(CBS News: Dan Raviv)
The U.S. and Israel are allies, but their leaders often differ on the details of key issues.


Zukunft Nominated to Succeed Papp as USCG Commandant
(Seapower Magazine: John Marcario)
President Obama has nominated VADM Paul Zukunft to become the next commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.


Italian Spyware Firm Relies on U.S. Internet Servers
(The Washington Post: Ellen Nakashima, Ashkan Soltani)
An Italian computer spyware firm relies heavily on the servers of U.S. Internet companies, according to a new report.

The Struggle to Downsize EUCOM
(Stars and Stripes: John Vandiver)
Experts say decades of downsizing have already eliminated most of the Cold War-era fat, leaving planners with a dilemma: Make minor tweaks or carry out sweeping changes that will alter the face of the military's presence in Europe.


Cuts and Consequences
(Defense News)
As the Obama administration prepares to issue its latest defense budget and strategy review this week, Russia's actions in Ukraine are a powerful reminder that the world is a dangerous place—even Europe.

Don't Scrap the U-2
(Defense News)
U.S. commanders worldwide have an insatiable appetite for ISR to better understand emerging threats.

The West Must Assuage the Fears of Former Soviet Republics
(The Washington Post)
Will Mr. Putin move to make the "frozen conflict" in Transnistria hot if Moldova presses ahead?

Time for Realism and Common Sense on Ukraine
(The Nation)
The international community should be pushing for compromise to prevent this fragile and bitterly divided country from breaking apart.

Putin's Achilles' Heel
(The Wall Street Journal)
Europe and the U.S. have leverage against Russia, if they'll use it.

Crimea: Russia's Next Afghanistan?
(The New York Times: Olga Dukhnich)
The Russians, now that they have landed, must surely see that they are not welcome, but feared.

The Myth of a Divided Ukraine
(The New York Times: Natalka Sniadanko)
Russian propaganda says we are split. My country knows different.

New Cold War? Obama, Putin Are Split
(The Wall Street Journal: Gerald Seib)
America sees rise of a globalized economy; Russia sees right to protect interests in Ukraine. 

America's Strategic Dilemma in the Ukraine
(War on the Rocks: Sean Kay)
The situation in Ukraine is, nonetheless, complicated and there is as much possibility that our efforts to do something can be well-intended but inadvertently make the situation worse.

No, American Weakness Didn't Encourage Putin to Invade Ukraine
(The Atlantic: Peter Beinart)
If you've listened to President Obama's critics in recent days, you've almost certainly heard two claims.

Why Putin Isn't Worried About Sanctions
(National Journal: Marina Koren)
The Russian president won't feel their effect—but ordinary Russian citizens will.

How Ukraine Will Shape the Future of the Middle East
(New Republic: Dennis Ross)
Wherever there are potentially ethnic Russian areas in former Soviet republics that are not prepared to toe the Russian line, there will be separatist movements that will break away—and Russia will support them.

Should Ukraine Have Gotten Rid of Its Cold War Nukes?
(Global Security Newswire: Elaine Grossman)
With Russian troops now occupying Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Kiev's beleagered interim leaders may be thinking twice about their nation's 1994 decision to abandon nuclear weapons.

Crimea Is Gone—What Does NATO Do Next?
(The Daily Beast: Christopher Dickey)
On the centenary of World War I, Europe's suddenly facing a crisis of Russian aggression. Why NATO must make a show of strength and reassure its Eastern members.

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Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

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Mark, Compensation Analyst

Timely and informative."

Dave, HR specialist

I can browse over breakfast or while on the metro."

AJ, US Army Officer

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