Today's D Brief: US, Russia at the UNSC; BoJo's diplomacy; N. Korea's new test; More Houthi missiles; And a bit more.

Contingency planning in the Big Apple. Members of the United Nations Security Council are expected to meet this morning at UN headquarters in New York City to discuss and possibly debate consequences of Russia’s apparent pending re-invasion of Ukraine. 

Caveat: Russia could try to block the UNSC meeting, if it can draw at least nine of the 15 member nations over to its side. 

Current UNSC members include: China, France, Russia, the U.K., the U.S., Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, and the United Arab Emirates. However, even should the meeting proceed, “Any formal action by the Security Council is extremely unlikely, given Russia’s veto power and its ties with others on the council, including China,” the Associated Press previews. 

The U.S. says: “Our voices are unified in calling for the Russians to explain themselves. We're going to go in the room prepared to listen to them, but we're not going to be distracted by their propaganda. And we're going to be prepared to respond to any disinformation that they attempt to spread during this meeting,” Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. 

Moscow says today’s probable UNSC meeting will be a “public relations stunt,” Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky tweeted Friday. 

New: Ukraine says it just arrested people it claimed planned to start riots in five cities. “This action, which was planned in advance, was originally aimed at violent actions and organising riots and had nothing to do with peaceful protests,” Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy said Monday in Kyiv, without saying exactly how many people have been arrested. Reuters has a tiny bit more.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying his hand at diplomacy this week, with plans to call up his Russian counterpart sometime today, followed by a planned visit to Ukraine’s president on Tuesday. “What I will say to President Putin, as I've said before, is that I think we really all need to step back from the brink, and I think Russia needs to step back from the brink," Johnson told reporters on Monday.

Russia says it’s opened its military ranks to people in separatist areas who might want to join from the eastern Donbas region, according to a Russian lawmaker on Saturday. Recall that “Russia has granted passports to more than 500,000 people in the rebel-held territories,” as AP reminded us over the weekend. More here.

Extra reading:Putin’s case for invading Ukraine rests on phony grievances and ancient myths,” according to Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, who penned an explanatory op-ed in the Washington Post Friday. 

After irritating the Irish, Russia’s navy decided to move upcoming drills farther from the island’s exclusive economic zone, Moscow’s Ambassador to Ireland announced Saturday on Facebook. The exercises were going to begin Thursday about 150 miles off southwestern Ireland;

This morning: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will speak at a virtual event with veteran columnist David Ignatius of the Washington Post. That’s slated for 11 a.m. ET. Details and registration, here.

From Defense One

Lockheed, Airbus Say They Would Build New Air Force Tankers in Alabama, Georgia // Marcus Weisgerber: Team takes aim at service’s “bridge tanker” contract against likely rival Boeing.

 Lawmakers Ask Biden To Make Sure DOD Follows Climate Rules // Jacqueline Feldscher: The Pentagon has said it will not seek an exemption to the climate goals.

‘Stand Down,’ Milley Warns Russia  // Tara Copp: Joint Chiefs chairman issues warning as Defense Secretary Austin says, "Conflict is not inevitable."

US to Russia: Explain Your Military Buildup to the UN // Jacqueline Feldscher: The UN Security Council will meet on Monday in the latest diplomatic move amid tensions.

Lockheed, Airbus Say They Would Build New Air Force Tankers in Alabama, Georgia // Marcus Weisgerber: Team takes aim at service’s “bridge tanker” contract against likely rival Boeing.

The Russia-Ukraine Crisis Need Not Spiral Into War  // Rajan Menon and Thomas Graham: Small diplomatic steps are pointing the way toward compromise.

Russia Is Teaching a Master Class in ‘Decision-Centric' Warfare // Dan Patt and Bryan Clark: Pentagon leaders should take notes.

Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Lockheed-Aerojet suit clouds M&A outlook; Oshkosh’s hybrid JLTV, Pentagon needs new computers; and more

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson, with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1915, the German military became the first ever to deploy poison gas in a deliberate attack against an enemy—in this case, it was the Russians at the Battle of Bolimów, in present-day Poland. However, high winds pushed much of the gas back toward the German lines, neutralizing its intended effect. 

North Korea launched its longest missile since 2017 over the weekend. Pyongyang state-run media confirmed the launch on Monday, Yonhap news agency reported after what’s now North Korea’s seventh known launch in 2022.
Involved: a single Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, according to Reuters. The missile reportedly “flew about 800 kilometers (497 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan,” AP reported, calling that “​​a distance sufficient to reach Guam, home to U.S. military bases that in past times of tensions sent advanced warplanes to the Korean Peninsula in shows of force.” More here.

The UAE says it shot down another Houthi ballistic missile, this time during a visit to Dubai by Israel’s new president on Monday. According to CNN, “The UAE said it responded to Monday's attack by destroying a ballistic missile platform and launch site in Yemen's Al Jawf.”
Recall that the Emirates said they shot down two ballistic missiles just last week; a similar attack in mid-January killed three people and wounded six others.
By the way: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba at the Pentagon on Friday. The two “strongly condemned the January 17 and January 24 attacks against the UAE,” and Austin affirmed the U.S. military’s “commitment to helping the UAE defend its territory and people and to the broader U.S.-UAE security partnership.”

Morale and pay problems are plaguing the Texas National Guard. And now those problems are complicating life for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. He’s being blamed by Republicans and Democrats for “bungling the deployment of thousands” of troops to the Mexico border; the problems are believed to be linked to several suicides of Guard members, as previously reported by The Texas Tribune and Military Times. 

Lastly today: At least 12,500 Afghans are still on U.S. military bases, awaiting resettlement elsewhere in the country, CNBC reported Sunday. About 10,000 of them live on bases in the U.S., while 2,500 are still on bases overseas, including Qatar, Kayla Tausche reported. Another 65,000 Afghans have already been moved off of bases and “resettled permanently in local communities,” Tausche writes.
One last thing: The emir of Qatar is in Washington today to speak to President Biden about plans to move Afghans to the U.S., among other topics.