Today's D Brief: NATO's Nordic expansion plods on; Putin hits pause; Mass shooting at July 4 parade; US microchips and China's AI race; And a bit more.
Finland and Sweden’s NATO applications are in the hands of legislatures across the 30-nation alliance now that “accession protocols” have been formally signed, just seven weeks after the applications were submitted.
“I look forward to seeing two more flags flying high at NATO,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday while marking the occasion in Brussels. “With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our people will be even safer, as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” he said.
“Last time we had a similar ratification process in the parliaments, it took around 12 months, or a year,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday. “And I welcome the fact that many allies have announced that they have already started and announced that they will do this [more] quickly than normal…this is already the fastest accession process in NATO’s history so far.”
But with each nation potentially holding a block, most observers will now closely watch how Turkish lawmakers choose in the months ahead, since Ankara’s president—citing Nordic and U.S. support for Kurdish rebels in the war against ISIS—has been the only voice of hesitation for NATO expansion since Russia unsuccessfully tried to capture Ukraine’s capital city more than four months ago.
Update: NATO has a new military commander. U.S. Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli officially took charge on Monday, succeeding U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters. There are few posts around the world with such an important-sounding name: the “Supreme Allied Commander of Europe,” which is often abbreviated to SACEUR. Cavoli is now the alliance’s 20th SACEUR, after sliding over from his previous post nearby as commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe and Africa.
Ukrainian citizens in Sloviansk are encouraged to evacuate ahead of invading Russian troops, the mayor said Tuesday after more than three dozen homes were hit by Russian shelling on Monday, according to the Associated Press. Moscow’s forces are widely expected to continue driving westward beyond the occupied Luhansk oblast and into neighboring Donetsk, which is about 15 miles from Sloviansk. Seizing and occupying Luhansk may be a “tactical victory for Russia,” but it came “at an enormous cost,” one British think tanker told Reuters. He said he’s now watching developments around the southern city of Kherson, since that’s where he thinks the next “key war battle” will occur.
Developing: Russia’s Vladimir Putin seems to have ordered a rest and reset for the Luhansk invaders, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War write in their latest assessment, published Monday evening. “Putin‘s public comment was likely meant to signal his concern for the welfare of his troops in the face of periodic complaints in Russia about the treatment of Russian soldiers,” ISW says. “It is not clear, however, that the Russian military will accept the risks of a long enough operational pause to allow these likely exhausted forces to regain their strength.” More here. Or read the message from state-run media TASS (via Google translate) here.
Russia is having to pass new laws to try to keep up its ammo supplies, according to Reuters, which is tracking a new parliamentary vote in the lower chamber, known as the Duma, on Tuesday. The two new laws will free up the Kremlin to “compel businesses to supply the military with goods and make their employees work overtime,” Reuters reports.
“The load on the defense industry has increased significantly,” Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov was quoted saying Tuesday. “In order to guarantee the supply of weapons and ammunition, it is necessary to optimize the work of the military-industrial complex and enterprises that are part of cooperation chains,” he added.
A note on Russian parliamentary process: “Both bills still need to undergo second and third readings in the Duma,” according to Reuters. “They must then be reviewed by the upper house of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.” Read on, here.
- “Sanctions Threaten Russia’s Next Huge Oil Field,” the Wall Street Journal reports on a $180 billion project in Russia’s far north known as the Payyakhskoye field, which now seems delayed until at least 2029;
- “Saudis Raise Oil Prices to Near Record as Demand Seen Robust,” via Bloomberg, reporting Tuesday;
- “High cost of Russian gains in Ukraine may limit new advance,” via the Associated Press, reporting Tuesday;
- “‘Terrified’ Brittney Griner writes to Biden to push for her freedom,” via the Washington Post, reporting Monday;
- “No Food, No Work: Being a Ukrainian Refugee in Israel,” via Haaretz, reporting Tuesday;
- And “Euro slumps to two-decade low as recession fears bite,” Reuters reported Tuesday from London.
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Welcome to this Tuesday 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. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. On this day in 1594, an estimated 20,000 Portuguese-aligned forces initially tried and, after three deadly months, eventually failed to invade the island we now refer to as Sri Lanka. After mass desertions, just 93 Portuguese troops survived the invasion attempt, which ended with a surrender in early October.
Six people were killed and two dozen were injured during a mass shooting at an Independence Day parade about 25 miles north of Chicago on Monday morning. Some eight hours later, a 22-year-old local white man and aspiring rapper was taken into custody after a pursuit by authorities that ended (photo here) in the nearby town of Lake Forest, Ill.
Amid the sound of fireworks, the shooter fired down on the crowd from a rooftop position before fleeing the scene. The Washington Post reports “at least two long bursts of rapid gunfire” hit the innocent spectators. At least four of the victims were children, and the wounded ranged in age from 8 to 85, a medical official told reporters Monday. One wheelchair-bound man—Nicolas Toledo, age 76—told family members beforehand that he didn’t want to attend the parade; “but his disabilities required that he be around someone full-time,” the New York Times reports. Toledo was among the six people who were killed in the July 4 shooting.
For your eyes only: Don’t miss this sneak peek at the Tuesday cover of the Chicago Sun-Times, and this photograph of a policeman from the immediate aftermath of the violence on Monday.
Bigger picture: There have already been more than 300 mass shootings in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive; there have only been 185 days in the year so far. The New York Times reported separately that this particular mass shooting in Chicago (there were others there over the weekend) was “part of a pattern: the brutal ubiquity of gun violence in a nation with more firearms than people.” The Associated Press and Reuters have more.
- “Masked white supremacist march in Boston draws condemnation,” CBS News reported Saturday;
- “Homeland Security chief: ‘We are in a heightened threat environment,’” via Politico, summarizing the tail end of a CBS News interview with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday;
- See also “Resources to Help Families, Community Members Cope After a Mass Shooting,” via NBC Chicago, reporting Tuesday morning.
G20 diplomats are meeting this week in Indonesia, where “food and energy insecurity and the threat of Russia’s continued war against Ukraine” are expected to top the agenda, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price, who previewed the trip in a short statement Tuesday.
U.S. and Chinese foreign ministers are expected to speak privately in Bali before Washington’s Antony Blinken departs for a meeting with Thai officials before returning home on Monday. A bit more from Foggy Bottom, here.
From the region:
- “Hacker claims to have stolen 1 bln records of Chinese citizens from police,” Reuters reported Monday from Shanghai;
- And “Accelerating Inflation in Asia Puts Pressure on Central Banks to Raise Rates,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Tuesday.
And lastly this morning: POTUS46 is set to award the Medal of Honor to four Army veterans of the Vietnam War in the East Room of the White House. They include Staff Sergeant Edward N. Kaneshiro; Specialist Five Dwight W. Birdwell; Specialist Five Dennis M. Fujii; and Major John J. Duffy. More from the White House, here; or catch the livestream via C-Span, here.
Related reading: “Clifford Alexander Jr., first Black secretary of Army, dies at 88,” via the Washington Post, reporting Monday.