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tv   Pentagon Press Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  April 14, 2022 6:08pm-6:46pm EDT

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where you stand on the issues, c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiased, word for word. if it happens here or here or here or anywhere that matters. america is watching on c-span. powered by cable. >> the pentagon press secretary briefed reporters today. he answered questions about a report of a russian warship damaged by ukraine in the black sea. >> all right. a couple of things. we all talked about the $800 million security assistance package the fed authorized yesterday. we are hard at work at filling
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that package out and while i don't have any shipments to speak to today, i can assure you that we are moving as aggressively as we can to source all of those items and get our hands on that material and get it on its way as quickly as possible. the previous $800 million package the president authorized is really only a few days away from closing out so we are going to just keep going forward and in giving with our consultation partners that they have, that they could also provide. ukraine spoke separately with slovakia and croatia as part of this ongoing consultation with allies and partnerships. we will have a full readout of those conversations later this afternoon but as far as the secretary's personal involvement in trying to help consult with allies and partners about
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getting additional security assistance, i will not get ahead of the readout just yet. separately, i would like to note that off the topic of ukraine, on tuesday, the accounting agency announced that u.s. army air forces posthumously awarded the medal of honor and was finally accounted for on april of this year. lieutenant colonel baker was piloting a b 24 bomber during operation tidal wave during romania. not before he was able to drop his bombs on the target. this is the 17th airmen identified as part of the
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project which began in 2017 at the defense p.o.w. mia accounting agency lab laboratory off of the air force base in nebraska and the thoughts and prayers continue to go out with lt. col. baker's family. we are probably able to identify his remains and recognize his incredible service to the country. bob, i think you are on the phone. >> i am on the phone. i hope you can hear me. on ukraine, could you give your current assessment on the russian ship incident? is it still moving under his own power? lastly, could you offer your assessment of what the significance of this loss is for the broader russian campaign?
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>> i will tell you what we know. we don't know everything. we cannot confirm ukrainian report that it was hit by a missile but we are also not in a position to refute that it could have been a ukrainian missile that struck the ship. we don't have perfect visibility on what happened. we do believe there was a significant exposure. we do believe that explosion caused a significant fire. we do assess that at least some of the crew members evacuated the ship and replaced aboard other russian navy ships. we have an assessment that some crew were evacuated from the ship and this morning we
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assessed the ship was underway under its own power. we are not sure that the ship will actually make its own way. that is the update. that is the best we can provide you in terms of speaking to this. that is difficult to know with great servitude. since the beginning of this invasion, they have ports on the black sea. they have historically operated there. it would be difficult to be able to tell you that this one shipping out of commission -- what exactly the impact will be.
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the reason i said that is because naval components of the war has been fairly limited to two things. number one, cruise missile strikes and replenishment and resupplying their efforts in the south. there are 400 or 500 sailors on board. it is designed for air defense. it will have impact on the capability. certainly in the near term. whether it is in the long term,
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that is unclear right now. we just don't have a clearer sense of the damage done and what impact it will have on the ship's future. >> a defense official said that other ships in the black he had this explosion move for whatever reason. does that change the fact that these other ships have moved further away from the coast? does that change the ability to launch cruise missiles? >> i would not --
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i don't think that would have a dramatic impact on their ability to launch cruise missiles. they have a long range. the fact that some of them may have moved away from the northern black sea from odessa and the coast does not mean they are completely incapable of maneuvering to other parts of the black sea and launching cruise missiles. i don't think we would be willing to go that far just yet. >> the northern black sea, is that considered contested? >> you would be going too far if we were to say the northern areas of the backs -- the black sea were not contested. that the russians had freedom of maneuver clearly inside the black sea. i think that would be going too far. for a couple of reasons. the ukrainian navy although small, it still has operating
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craft. they do have coastal defense capabilities. we are offering some coastal defense. number three, we know that minds have been affected south of odessa and that some of those minds could be free-floating and therefore not more to a specific area. that could affect the navy's ability to freely maneuver and that maritime space. from just a purely naval perspective, the russians have superiority in the black sea to the ukrainians, more ships, more firepower, certainly more naval capability. we would not assess that they have achieved complete freedom
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of movement. they have used the maritime environment to pin down ukrainian armed forces. >> wendy embassy was moved there, -- are they still with the contingent of the you estimate in poland? >> i can't say how much of the
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ukraine security detachment is with this displaced embassy personnel. if, when and how they might think about this. i would just tell you that without getting into the hypotheticals here, they are very proud of their security response builders. that would be an active part of any consideration of bringing an embassy back up to speed. there have been no decisions made.
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>> can you tell us if these originated from the -- >> this is a cruiser by definition. they are typically designed for air defense purposes. i am not saying that she would not have offensive capabilities. we do know that some, not a lot but some cruise missile attacks have emanated from surface combatants. i cannot tell you whether they participated in that and how much. >> will these unmanned surface vehicles be armed? >> i think i'm just going to
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leave it at that. they are going to help them with defense needs. they are designed to help ukraine with its coastal defense needs. >> as the next tranche of 800 million goes in, is there any concern that because these are more advanced weapons, russian-made contest the supply lines? >> ground movement is still occurring inside ukraine every single day. there are security assistance weapons and material and support equipment getting into ukrainian hands and as we have said before, we will keep doing that as much as we can as fast as we can. we have not seen any russian efforts to interrupt that flow. we will keep doing it.
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we don't talk about the specifics of that flow. we constantly look at it every day and adapted as needed. i think that is a mathematical truth. >> i am not aware of anything they have done to affect other southern states on the dead sea. i am not aware of anything they have done to threaten or propose a problem for the black sea
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nations. >> they will get there. >> is there any update on the plan for you as troops on any of these systems? >> i don't have any details to speak to today. we are mindful of the clock and we are mindful of the fact that it will be basic fundamentals. while some of these systems will require some familiarization and basic training, it is not exorbitant. it wont take a long time. it will require a large pool of
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trainees. we will work it out. we don't think it will be an onerous task or lengthy in time or in resources. general walters was able to brief the secretary just this morning on the efforts to work it out and he knows it is a requirement and he is working on it. >> you mentioned the identification of the remains of the briefing and this question may come out of left field a little bit but there are still thousands of u.s. service members missing and north korea. i am just wondering if this administration has that as a
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priority and is working that in any way or whether it looks at the situation with north korea has -- >> i don't know what progress has been made with respect to the korean peninsula. let me see if i can check that out. but it is a priority for the secretary. on one of his early visits to -- to hawaii, you want to talk about their recovery efforts. it was a fascinating day. he is 100% committed to doing everything we can and he can to support this mission. there is a lot of work they're doing.
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he understands and respects the closure this offers to families of the fallen and the lost. it is an incredible effort that has spanned multiple administrations going back. i can tell you he is 100% committed to that now. place right now, people are concerned. could you share your sentiment on whether or not russia -- from
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a military point of view, are they able to do that? >> the first answer is yes, russia has the ability to strike kyiv. even as we saw their troops retreat from kyiv from the north, i have said many times that we do not believe that he was no longer under threat. we said that many times in the early stages. the russians still have long-range airstrike capabilities. whether it is from airlines or cruise missiles, they still have that capability to them.
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even as the russians began to reposition, we never felt that kyiv was not still potentially under threat. i can't and won't speak to specific intelligence assessments are about the intelligence here but we are mindful of not just kyiv but other cities in ukraine. >> kind of surprising that russia still has such capabilities. is it surprising they have not tried to make an attempt on these convoys? was that part of the calculus going in? >> we don't take any movement of weapons systems going into ukraine for rented. that is why we are very careful
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about how much information we put out there about it. that is why we are careful to modulate that activity. we get these things into their hands. i think the less we say about that, the better. is still posting those russian soldiers to not only resupply but redeploy them? >> i had not seen the report that they were retaken at checkpoint. we have not seen changeable efforts by belarus to involve their troops inside ukraine. that said, they have troops on
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their soil. they have allowed for airstrikes to be launched from their soil. they are allowing the russian invasion inside ukraine but in terms of their actual forces being involved, we have not seen that. it is difficult for me to assess this. it would not surprise me. the ukrainians were in hot pursuit and doing the best they could to make that retreat more more difficult for the russians. >> it was just yesterday. i just didn't know but i got it.
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your face is burned on my brain. your face is burned on my brain. >> yesterday's packers did not include any stinger missiles. is there a reason for that? did ukrainians send their request for stingers? >> every shipment is based on consultations. we detailed what was in this $800 million. this is what the ukrainians made clear they wanted. i think we will be able to give you an update. you will see it is quite a lot. i would not rule out future deliveries of stingers going
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forward but this package was very much tailored in consultation with ukrainians, -- what they thought they needed for this fight. given the kinds of reinforcements that the russians are pushing into that region, it seems like artillery and counter all -- artillery and counter artillery radar is what we thought was most important. >> you said because of marines providing security, the defense department would not be part of any of these discussions and that no decisions have been made.
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yes, there are discussions about how to reopen the embassy? >> i would refer you to my colleagues at the state department. >> can you tell us if you are discussing it? >> i would refer you to the state department. >> you also said that russia would start moving weapons to join nato and i would -- i was wondering if you had any updates on moving weaponry for that. request to follow-up on your
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answer yesterday was that they are not at unsafe levels. can you share the metric for that? >> we have to be careful about that. i would just tell you this is something we are watching every single day. it is one of the reasons we wanted to have that roundtable. we will not get into specific metrics but i can assure you we are not at the point where our inventories of these systems have or will imminently affect our readiness. we don't want to get to a point where that is an issue. we are comfortable that our stocks are in keeping with our readiness needs. we obviously know that as these packages go on, we want to be ahead of that and not get into
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where it becomes a readiness issue. >> i don't have anything to predict with respect to that. i am not anticipating that. i know of no such discussions on that right now. >> thank you. what can you say about that?
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>> i don't have much contest on any cooperation between north korea and russia. obviously we would not approve of any nation providing support to russia during this. let me put it this way, we have not seen any tangible support from north korea to russia.
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we also have responsibilities in south korea to help the south koreans defend themselves. and to reinforce our security commitment. we are still very capable of doing that. >> would they join units in south korea? why are they coming to the korean peninsula? >> it is not uncommon for u.s. aircraft carriers to steam in the part of the world. not unusual at all. i don't have anything to speak to today or what exercises he might contribute to but freedom of navigation is freedom of navigation. our carriers demonstrate
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significant maritime power all over the world. it is not uncommon for them to operate in those waters. >> do you know the identity of the admiral whose flag it was? >> i have seen colloquial comments about her being the flagship of the black sea fleet. there was only three in that class. the russians did not make a lot of them. but whether she was an actual flagship.
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>> they going to encourage -- do you think this deal is a part of china's effort to project power? >> i would refer you to the state department for more detail. we do understand they are discussing abroad security related agreement. the broad nature of that agreement itself leaves open the door for potential deployment of p.r.c. military forces on the solomon islands. we could set a concerning precedent for the island region. obviously we are concerned about this. let's go to the phones. i had not done that very much. >> the air force is helping
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families of transgender gay and lesbian children who are in states that have passed anti-gay and trans laws. i am wondering if the defense department comes up with any policies to help military families who live in states that have passed laws like this? >> i am not aware of any departmentwide policies. i think what the air force did was communicate to airmen and their families that if they needed any assistance, advice or counsel as they transferred from base to base that there was a set of resources available to them. >> i am interested.
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how concerning is this threat to the pentagon? also, medvedev was complaining that russia was not to blame for this. what do you think about that? >> it sounds like you have a concept going on at home. are you ok? >> we are ok. that is what happens when you try to lock your office door and you have a four-year-old. >> nonviolent. i had to get my brains wrapped around this again. we take any potential nuclear threat very seriously. we noted at the time that we took that seriously and that we continue to monitor as best we can. with respect to any recent
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rhetoric, we are watching that very closely. i would just tell you again two things, our strategic nuclear deterrent posture is something the secretary checks and on every single day. it is not something we take for granted. we have seen nothing in this space out there that is giving us because to change that posture in any tangible way whatsoever. we are watching this every single day. >> i want to go back to the coastal defense ships. ukraine officers in the u.s. have already trained on them. a couple of questions for you. are the vessels coming from navy prototype programs? when are they expected to arrive in ukraine waters? are they designed or intended to attack russian vessels like the cruiser?
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>> i don't have shipment details for you. i can get you more information about actual deliveries, we will do that. the authorization just came down yesterday. we are working very hard as sourcing these things and getting them on the way. i am not going to talk about the specific capabilities of usbs. i talked about them to the degree that we are going to go and they are designed to help ukraine with its coastal defense. the cost of the fence is something that they are interested in. it is an acute need now. as we see the russians really refocus. these capabilities will be hopefully helpful in the coastal defense needs. i think that is as far as i am going to go on it.
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thank you, everybody. we are not briefing tomorrow given the holiday weekend coming up. we will see you guys on monday. >> white house national security advisor jake sullivan talk about security concerns and russia's invasion of ukraine in a conversation hosted by the economic club of washington. you can watch that tonight on c-span, online or error-free video app c-span now. >> amy coney barrett spoke recently about life in washington dc and the public scrutiny during her confirmation hearings. she sat down for a one-on-one interview with the ronald reagan presidential library in california. watch tonight on c-span, online at or watchful coverage on c-span now, error-free video at.
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>> there are a lot of places to get political. but only at c-span do you get it straight from the source. no matter where you are from or where you stand on the issues, c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiased, word for word. if it happens here or here or anywhere that matters, america is watching on c-span. powered by cable. >> former ranking member of the house security committee and a washington expert on for policy. welcome to "washington journal." guest: it is nice to be back and i think what you do on c-span is so


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