Today's D Brief: 'Second phase' of Russia's invasion begins; Moscow strikes Lviv; Biden, Xi chat; N. Korea's failed launch; And a bit more.

After a brief lull, Russian strikes across Ukraine continued again Friday, day 24 of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his democratic neighbor. Russian cruise missiles, believed to have been launched from the Black Sea, landed as far west as Lviv, which is about 40 miles from Poland’s border. Some of those strikes hit an aircraft repair plant, Lviv’s mayor told CNN. And two of an alleged six cruise missiles headed toward the city were intercepted, according to Ukraine’s military. 

Bigger picture: “We're definitely in a second phase of the war,” Justin Bronk of the Royal United Services Institute told Financial Times on Friday as part of an intriguing multimedia summary of the conflict so far. “We’re increasingly seeing the Russian military starting to fight like they normally fight.” And that means more concentrated artillery strikes in the hopes of flattening cities, likely killing a large number of civilians (as in Grozny, Chechnya, back in 1999 and Aleppo, Syria, in 2016, e.g.) in the process. 

For the third time in about three weeks, Russian officials are warning Ukraine’s allies that shipments into the country “carrying weapons would be fair game” for Russian military strikes. The latest warning comes from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and follows recent warnings from Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on state-run TV. ABC News has a tiny bit more about Friday’s message from Lavrov. Reuters has still more tough talk from Lavrov as he delivered the lines to state-run RT on Friday.

Putin accused Ukrainians of “genocide” before a stadium-sized crowd in Moscow today, the BBC reports. Putin attended because the event marked eight years since Russia seized Crimea, and it was likely going to be a celebration of seizing Ukraine, if Putin’s invasion had gone according to its apparently ambitious initial plan. “We know what we have to do next,” Putin reportedly said, and added, “we'll definitely carry out all the plans we have made.” 

Biden, Xi phoner: The leaders of the U.S. and China spoke this morning in a call scheduled earlier this week, shortly after the President Joe Biden announced $800 million in new military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday. Early indications suggest China’s Xi Jinping told Biden that Putin’s invasion is “in no one’s interest,” but that the U.S. and China need to “shoulder [the] international responsibilities” in this moment of crisis, according to Chinese state-run media. 

By the way: China sent one of its two aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, about 12 hours before that call with POTUS46—and hours after the U.S. Navy sent a guided missile cruiser through (DDG-114) the Taiwan Strait on Thursday. Reuters reports the Shandong (CV-17), which is China’s first domestically built carrier, made the transit about 30 miles southwest of the precariously located Taiwanese island of Kinmen. There were no aircraft on the Shandong during this trip. 

For what it’s worth, Chinese aircraft have entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone for five consecutive days, including Friday, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. The PLAF did the same for six consecutive days prior to this latest run; and seven consecutive days before that, beginning Feb. 23. More from Taipei’s military, here

ICYMI:Navy Officer Sentenced After Lying About His Relationship with a Chinese Defense Firm,” via, reporting Thursday. 

U.S. National Guard disinformation alert: A Russian media outlet (Pravda) this week claimed three members of the Tennessee National Guard died this week fighting in Ukraine—but that’s simply not true, the Guard Bureau announced Thursday on social media. “The three soldiers identified in the article are either current or former members of the Tennessee National Guard,” said officials from the Office of the Tennessee Adjutant General. “They are accounted for, safe, and not, as the article headline erroneously states, U.S. mercenaries killed in Donetsk People’s Republic.” More to that message, here.

In case you’re curious, there have been fewer ransomware attacks on local U.S. government entities since Russia invaded Ukraine. That’s according to data curated by cyber threat analyst Brett Callow

Related reading: 

From Defense One

Teleworking DOD Civilians May Be Recalled to In-Person Work // Bradley Peniston and Elizabeth Howe: Two years after the pandemic sent DOD into “maximum telework,” Thursday’s memo points the way toward a new new normal.

Here’s the List of 87 Potential New Names for Confederate-Named Army Posts // Caitlin M. Kenney: The congressionally mandated commission will send its final recommendations in October.

Don’t Expect China to Save Ukraine // Jacqueline Feldscher: “At this point in time, I think it’s very difficult for anybody to change Putin’s mind,” one expert said.

The Naval Brief: Bad recon; Arms for Ukraine; Shipboard hypersonics; and more... // Caitlin M. Kenney: 

A Planned Mars Rover Is the Latest Victim of Russia’s War on Ukraine // Tara Copp: The European Space Agency and Roscosmos have put their ExoMars mission on hold.

Welcome to this Friday 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 1241, the Mongols seized Krakow, Poland, which they burned to the ground before going on to conquer more territory than any empire in recorded history. 

North Korea apparently failed to launch a missile this week from an airfield north of Pyongyang. That “airfield has been the site of several launches, including previous tests of what were the US alleges were intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the BBC reported Wednesday.
It seems to have exploded at an altitude of less than 20 kms, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports. And perhaps unsurprisingly, North Korean state-run media made no mention of the launch attempt in its coverage Thursday. Debris reportedly fell over the capital city after the explosion, which followed several tests of what’s believed to be a new, much larger ICBM the North could test ahead of what would have been Kim Il Sung’s 110th birthday in April.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command called it a “ballistic missile launch,” and called “on the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to refrain from further destabilizing acts.”
Panning out: “North Korea has conducted 10 missile or projectile tests so far this year, more than in all of last year,” the New York Times reported Wednesday. “The last failure of a missile launch was reported in August 2017, when one of three short-range ballistic missiles launched by the North blew up immediately after liftoff.”
Read more:For N.Korea's missile programme, even failures can be sign of progress,” via Reuters, reporting Thursday from South Korea. 

Lastly today, Netflix is bringing “Servant of the People” back to Netflix in the U.S, Entertainment Weekly reports. That’s the hit series that starred Volodymyr Zelenskyy—now, of course, the president of Ukraine—as a high school teacher who is elected president of Ukraine after a video of his complaints about government corruption goes viral. Zelenskyy’s real-life presidential campaign began when the series ended, in 2019.

Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!