Today's D Brief: More Russian missiles hit cities; House passes NDAA; Germany convicts far-right officer; Underwater ICBMs?; And just a bit more.
Russian long-range airstrikes continue to pound Ukrainian cities away from the front lines, including two universities that were struck in the southern city of Mykolaiv Friday morning. That’s according to Vitaliy Kim, a regional official who says at least 10 missiles hit the two campuses. “I’m asking universities of all democratic countries to claim Russia [is] what it is really is—the terrorist,” he tweeted Friday.
The Mykolaiv attack comes a day after Russian cruise missiles killed nearly two dozen people Thursday in the city of Vinnytsia, about 170 miles south of Kyiv. The Associated Press has more about the aftermath of that strike Thursday, here.
Surprise, surprise: China is selling Russia high-tech items that Putin needs for his Ukraine invasion, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday from Beijing. That includes antennae parts, microchips, printed circuits, and aluminum oxide. (Caveat: “The rise in reported export values may partly be explained by inflation,” the Journal notes. “But the data shows that many Chinese tech sellers have continued to do business with Russia despite U.S. scrutiny.”)
New EU sanctions against Russia are coming today, and they’re expected to involve “goods that could be used for military purposes, including chemicals and machinery,” as well as an import ban on Russian gold, according to Reuters. The European Union has a short preview, here.
German leaders are mulling an extension of three nuclear power plants’ operations beyond their current 2023 deadlines since most Europeans expect Russia to cut gas supplies soon, Reuters reported separately on Friday from Berlin.
Paul Urey, a British volunteer who was captured in Ukraine has allegedly died in captivity, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Friday in a statement. “He was in Ukraine to try and help the Ukrainian people in the face of the unprovoked Russian invasion,” she said, and promised, “Those responsible will be held to account.”
Gain a better sense of how Russia is conducting a “covert mobilization” to replace dead and wounded troops in Ukraine, via a new feature from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty’s Mike Eckel, reporting Thursday.
Wagner’s ragtag mercenary group is also advertising openings, pleading with Russians to “Become a winner [and] Prove you're a real man,” according to one recent ad campaign. “Join us to liberate the entire Donbas! Embark on your first combat campaign with living industry legends!” a similar campaign reads.
Sound familiar? The New York Times reported five days ago about Moscow’s “stealth mobilization” efforts to backfill dead and wounded forces in Ukraine. The online news site Meduza also produced a lengthy investigation this week looking into Wagner operations in Ukraine entitled, “A mercenaries’ war: How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to a ‘secret mobilization’ that allowed oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin to win back Putin’s favor.” Shortly after that report was published, Prigozhin said he would sue the authors for violating Russia’s newly-tightened laws against criticizing the military.
For your eyes only: The U.S. Army has drone pilot trainers working in Finland, our colleague Caitlin Kenney noticed after spotting this photo on DVIDS Thursday.
One last thing: the Russian fast-food chain that used to be McDonalds is having trouble obtaining French fries, Reuters reports from Moscow. The U.S.-based chain left Russia in May, and those former properties are back up and running, and now go by the name Vkusno & tochka, or “Tasty and that's it.” According to officials, the fry shortage is expected to last “until autumn” because of supply chain complications and an alleged poor potato harvest in Russia.
- “Myths and misconceptions around Russian military intent,” via Chatham House scholars, collaborating Thursday to dispel five common fears about Russian power, including ‘Russia wouldn’t attack a NATO member state’ and “Russia creates impenetrable ‘A2/AD bubbles’”.
- “Vladimir Putin Often Backs Down,” via Virginia Tech's Maria Snegovaya and Brian Whitmore of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, writing last Friday about another one of those “myths” in the pages of Foreign Policy.
- “Hungary declares ‘energy emergency’ over threat of shortages,” via the Associated Press, reporting Wednesday from Budapest.
- “Tunisia’s scarred economy dealt further blow by war in Ukraine,” via Financial Times, reporting Tuesday from Tunis.
- “The War in Ukraine Is the True Culture War,” via the New York Times, reporting Friday from Kyiv.
- And “Gaps in Arms Supplies to Ukraine Point to Countries’ Divergent Strategies,” also via the Times, reporting Friday from Brussels—and from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy data that we highlighted in Thursday’s newsletter.
From Defense One
The Danube Won’t Solve Ukraine’s Grain Problems // Elisabeth Braw: Europe’s second-longest river isn’t deep enough to carry ocean-going grain vessels.
Biden Defends Saudi Trip To ‘Reassert’ US Influence Amid Human Rights Criticism // Jacqueline Feldscher: “I’m meeting with nine other heads of state. It just happens to be in Saudi Arabia,” the president said.
Fewer Military Families Would Recommend Uniformed Service, Survey Finds. // Caitlin M. Kenney: The Military Family Advisory Network poll may have warning signs for recruiters.
New Top Coastie Wants More Data Tools to Help Leaders Make Decisions // Lauren C. Williams: Adm. Linda Fagan’s “highest priority” is transforming the service’s talent management system.
Drifting Toward Disaster As Iran Nuke Talks Stall // Tom Z. Collina and Emma Belcher: Biden seems to think he needn’t cut a new deal until after the elections. That would be a mistake.
Self-Driving Cars Could Soon See Much Better // Patrick Tucker: Advances in laser range-finding could enable much smarter smart vehicles.
Navy Prints Metal Parts on the High Seas // John Breeden II: An amphibious assault ship is testing a shipboard 3D printer during RIMPAC exercises.
US Can’t Down Russian Missiles Being Used in Ukraine, Report Says // Marcus Weisgerber: Building a defense against cruise missiles will cost billions, CSIS concludes.
Welcome to this Friday 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 1916, an aviation firm known as the Pacific Aero Products Company was incorporated in Seattle, Wash., combining the fortunes and brainpower of lumber industrialist William Boeing and U.S. Navy Cmdr. George Conrad Westervelt. One year later, the name was changed to the more recognizable Boeing Airplane Company, and later to simply Boeing.
House lawmakers passed their $839 billion defense policy bill Thursday evening on Capitol Hill. As written, the House’s version “would give troops a 4.6% pay raise, and provide a minimum 2.4% ‘inflation bonus’ for military and civilian personnel who earn less than $45,000 a year,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday evening.
Spotted in the House chamber on Thursday: Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley (h/t Politico’s Kyle Cheney).
Included in that House package: A restriction on F-16 sales to Turkey, which was seemingly one of the concessions Turkish President Recep Erdogan extracted from U.S. and NATO allies during the recent drama over Finland and Sweden’s alliance applications.
Next up: Senators still have to work through their version of the bill, before the two chambers attempt to reconcile their differences in the weeks and months ahead. The Hill has a bit more, here.
Germany just convicted a far-right military officer for a murder plot he’d hoped would accelerate an end to German democracy, the New York Times reports from Frankfurt. “He was caught in 2017 trying to collect a loaded gun that he had hidden in a bathroom at the Vienna airport,” the Times reports. “His fingerprints later revealed his second, fake identity as a Syrian refugee, setting off alarm bells and an investigation that would span three countries and multiple intelligence agencies.”
According to prosecutors, he’d planned to use his fake Syrian identity to assassinate people as part of a plan to stoke racial tensions and anger over immigration. He’d already amassed “more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, four guns and about 50 explosives, some of it stolen from military bases where he had been stationed” when he was arrested as a first lieutenant in 2017. A bit more to that story, here.
- “The Russified German Far-Right,” via the Harvard International Review, writing on July 4;
- “In the mostly White world of extremism research, new voices emerge,” via the Washington Post, reporting in late June;
- “The Dark Lesson Proud Boys and Oath Keepers Will Take From the Jan. 6 Hearings,” via Slate, writing Wednesday after speaking with counter-extremism researcher Colin P. Clarke of the Soufan Group;
- See also “Proud Boys Aid the Right-Wing Assault on the LGBTQ Community and Reproductive Justice,” via the Southern Poverty Law Center, writing on Wednesday as well.
A lieutenant colonel in Pakistan’s army was shot and killed by militants in the country’s allegedly “poor and underdeveloped” Balochistan region this week, Dawn reported Thursday.
ICYMI: Rebels in Balochistan claimed responsibility for an April suicide bombing that killed three Chinese teachers in the southern city of Karachi. The attacker was an educated 30-year-old mother of two children.
According to the rebel group, the Baloch Liberation Army, they’d targeted Chinese in that attack (and at least two others, in Nov. 2018 and April 2021) because of destructive development related to Beijing’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The BLA claimed in a video after the April 2022 bombing that China is helping “the Pakistani military in wiping out villages” as CPEC matures. Read more about this most recent attack at Dawn, here.
Should the U.S. base its next generation of ICBMs underwater, or in underground railway tunnels? Those questions were officially asked, according to a new U.S. Air Force environmental assessment flagged this week on Twitter by nuclear researcher Matt Korda.
For the record, “Both of these basing options have their roots in the late Cold War,” Korda explains, “and [both] are partially referenced in a 1980 Pentagon study which considered 30 distinct and often bizarre ICBM basing options, including dirigibles, barges, seaplanes, and even hovercraft!” Korda unpacks more of these recent findings, here.
And lastly this week: After a sailor pitched the idea, the U.S. Navy Reserve is now creating a mobile app to help deploy forces faster, Stars and Stripes reported Thursday from the Navy Reserve’s inaugural i3 Waypoints program.
The one behind the idea: Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Calhoun, who’s currently assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces Command Maritime Operations Center in Norfolk, Va. His idea is to combine much of the paperwork required for mass mobilization exercises into one “secure” place to expedite the process, Calhoun said. According to Stripes, “Not only will the envisioned, encrypted app allow reservists to securely complete necessary mobilization documents from a personal mobile device, but it will also use artificial intelligence to autofill duplicative data fields, such as names and other basic information, across multiple documents.” Continue reading, here.
Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!