Today's D Brief: Russia’s ‘forced deportations’; North Korea’s approval; Poland’s warning; Israel’s new lasers; And a bit more.
America’s top diplomat says Russia’s “forced deportations” of nearly a million Ukrainians is a war crime. Kremlin officials refer to the relocations as “filtration camps,” but U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken calls it the “unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons,” according to a statement on Wednesday, July 13—which is day 140 of the invasion Vladimir Putin is believed to have thought would take only two days.
Staggering scope: “Russian authorities have interrogated, detained, and forcibly deported between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including 260,000 children, from their homes to Russia,” Blinken said, and added these Ukrainians are often sent “to isolated regions in [Russia’s] Far East.” (And the wider refugee outflow from Ukraine has now eclipsed 9 million people, the UN’s refugee agency said Wednesday in its latest update.)
Russia’s apparent purpose: conquest, as “Moscow’s actions appear pre-meditated and draw immediate historical comparisons to Russian ‘filtration’ operations in Chechnya and other areas,” Blinken said. “Putin’s ‘filtration’ operations are separating families, confiscating Ukrainian passports, and issuing Russian passports in an apparent effort to change the demographic makeup of parts of Ukraine,” the secretary said.
“Accountability is imperative,” Blinken insists. “This is why we are supporting Ukrainian and international authorities’ efforts to collect, document, and preserve evidence of atrocities.” Along with Ukraine and its allies and partners around the world, “Together, we are dedicated to holding perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities accountable,” Blinken said.
Update: The death toll from a Russian strike in the city of Chasiv Yar on Saturday has risen to 47, including a child, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing Ukrainian presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
North Korea just joined Russia in recognizing the annexed Donetsk region of Ukraine, according to Moscow’s state-run media TASS. That puts Pyongyang’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un in the company of brutal Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime also recognized the annexation in late June.
Coverage continues below the fold…
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Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. 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 1863, and ten days after victory at Gettysburg, hundreds of working-class Americans in New York City began several days of rioting—first against conscription into the Civil War, a policy they resented since wealthy citizens could pay the $300 tab to dodge their service obligation; but over just a few hours, rioters gradually turned their animus toward Black Americans of all ages living in the city, which contributed to a five-day death toll of at least 119 people, including children, with another 2,000 estimated to have been wounded in the violence and unrest.
Poland’s message to the world: Putin wants more than just Ukraine. “Russia will continue the war against Ukraine, and will remain a country that is aggressive towards states that it treats as its zone of influence,” Polish intelligence officials announced in a statement Wednesday. After the present operational pause, “the Kremlin will presumably begin another phase of war,” the spokesman for Poland’s Minister-Special Services Coordinator said, and emphasized, “There’s no indication that Russia’s war against Ukraine is about to end. There’s no sign that Russia wants to resign its objective, which is to destroy Ukraine in its present form.”
“A strategic objective of the Kremlin is to destroy or completely humiliate the [NATO] alliance,” Warsaw says—echoing one of several points recently articulated by historian Anne Applebaum. “The aim of Russia’s operations is still to blur the Kremlin’s responsibility for the attack against Ukraine, to distort the perception of war, to cover up Russian crimes and losses, as well as to destabilize western countries that are engaged in helping Ukraine.” That includes lifting sanctions on Moscow, and stopping military assistance to Kyiv.
The way forward, according to the nation both Hitler and the Soviets invaded in 1939, is to stay united as an alliance, and to continue arming and helping Ukraine at every available opportunity. “Only with maintaining unity and common assessment of threats coming from the east, will we be able to stop Russian aggression,” the spokesman said, calling Russia’s Ukraine invasion “only a transit stop” for Putin and officials in the Kremlin. More to that message, here.
The British military largely concurs, and says in its latest Ukraine update that, “Russia continues to seek to undermine the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state and consolidate its own governance and administrative control over occupied parts of Ukraine. Recently this has included an initiative to twin Russian and Ukrainian cities and regions to develop post-conflict administrations and a decree to make it easier for Ukrainians to obtain Russian citizenship,” which we flagged in Monday’s newsletter.
The Dutch and Australian defense chiefs are visiting the Pentagon today, with Amsterdam’s Kajsa Ollongren up first at about 10:30 a.m. ET, followed by Canberra’s Richard Marles closer to 1:30 p.m.
At 1:30 p.m. ET today: Four State Department officials are discussing the future of American diplomacy within the context of arming Ukraine against Russia. The Center for Strategic and International Studies is hosting that event, which you can livestream after registration. Details here.
- “Ukraine targets grain exports breakthrough at four-way talks,” Reuters reports Wednesday from Istanbul;
- “Global Oil-Supply Crisis Shows Signs of Easing, IEA Says,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Wednesday;
- “Shitposting Shiba Inu Accounts Chased a Russian Diplomat Offline,” via Vice News, reporting Tuesday from the internet;
- And “UNHCR video game lets pupils experience a refugee’s perilous journey,” via the UN’s refugee agency, writing Friday.
Today in Washington: The Pentagon’s top Middle East civilian, Dana Stroul, is visiting the Middle East Institute to discuss ISIS detention facilities in Al Hol, Syria. That’s slated for 2:45 p.m.; background and registration, here.
Shortly after that begins, three top Navy officials plan to discuss the 100-year history of the U.S. aircraft carrier and what could be next in naval aviation in an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, just a few blocks down the street from the MEI. Registration and livestream, here.
And at 3:15 p.m., review the war on ISIS with the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Gordon, who recently released a book entitled, “Degrade and Destroy: The Inside Story of the War Against the Islamic State, from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.” Gordon is speaking today at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in D.C. He’ll be joined by former ISIS war commander, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Sean McFarland and others. Details and livestream, here.
And over on the Hill: A hearing on “Protecting Military Servicemembers and Veterans from Financial Scams and Fraud” is being held by lawmakers with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s National Security subcommittee. That begins at 2 p.m. ET; details and livestream, here.
And lastly today: Get to better know how Israel’s new laser-based air defense system, Iron Beam, works thanks to this five-minute video explainer from the Wall Street Journal, published Wednesday.
Why bring it up? POTUS46 scheduled an Iron Beam demonstration during his visit to Israel today, according to the White House’s preview. On Thursday, President Biden plans to visit Israel’s current and former Prime Ministers Yair Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as President Isaac Herzog. He then travels to the West Bank before flying to Saudi Arabia on Friday. Our colleague Jacqueline Feldscher is tracking the president’s travels this week, so be sure and follow her on Twitter, here.