Today's D Brief: Moscow's hurried annexation timeline; Poland points to more Russian 'filtration camps'; Turkey opens Black Sea monitoring center; And a bit more.
Russian officials want to capture all of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region by the end of August, well ahead of September 11, “which is the unified voting day in the Russian Federation,” analysts at the Institute for the Study of War write in their latest Ukraine war assessment, published Tuesday evening. But that may be tough, because “Russian forces remain unlikely to occupy significant additional territory in Ukraine before the early autumn annexation timeline,” ISW warns.
Polish officials say they know about more locations of alleged Russian-run prisons and “filtration camps” where Vladimir Putin’s invading forces rout hundreds of thousands of uprooted and detained Ukrainians. And Warsaw is being very specific—including exact locations of alleged “Russian torture chambers used against Ukrainians,” like this address inside Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast, and four others here, here, here, and here.
How this Nazi-like program seems to work, according to Polish intelligence: “[T]he process of filtering and verifying detained Ukrainians lasts from several hours to several days. During this time, interrogations by the FSB [Russian intelligence officials] take place, the analysis of confiscated items, including data carriers, and even social media activity is carried out.”
Compliant Ukrainians “are generally deported to Russia,” but some “are forcibly conscripted into the Russian army and then sent to the front,” the Polish say. Meanwhile, “People who raise doubts are brutally repressed. They are tortured, they are forced to testify or make statements against Ukraine, or they are brought to court as part of propaganda, [or] show political trials.”
The invading Russian forces seem to be using local Ukrainian police buildings, and other facilities from Ukraine’s State Migration Service. Otherwise, “In regions where the Russians have not managed to adapt buildings taken over as a result of aggression, filtration sites are organized in the form of towns and tent camps.” Read more from Warsaw, photos included, here.
Developing: Russia seems to be sending more air defense units to its southern invasion forces, according to footage flagged here by Russia-watcher Rob Lee.
Ukraine’s military is still striking bridges with rockets (latest here; prior recent reported strikes can be seen here, here, here, and here) to make them virtually impossible for Russia to use for convoy transit, etc. The Wall Street Journal has a bit more on this latest strike, reporting Wednesday from Kyiv, here; the Associated Press has still more on these bridges, here.
Coverage continues below…
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Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad and Elizabeth Howe. 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 1299, the Ottoman Empire is believed (by English historian Edward Gibbon) to have begun when Kayi tribal leader Osman Ghazi led a movement of his people into contemporary northwestern Turkey, near a Byzantine city called Nicomedia, after being allegedly displaced by Mongol invaders. Osman’s eventual empire would thrive and last an impressively long time—far longer than the invading Mongols’—with historians widely accepting 1922 as the year it all came to an end for the Ottomans.
New: Germany will reportedly sell Ukraine 100 self-propelled howitzers worth about €1.7 billion, according to Der Spiegel, reporting Wednesday from a company official with manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Reuters has a tiny bit more on that deal, here.
Get to better know the unit routing allied weapons to Ukraine from the U.S. military’s European Command, based in Germany, via this report from Eric Schmitt of the New York Times, reporting Wednesday from Stuttgart. “Think of the cell as a cross between a wedding registry for bombs, bullets, and rocket artillery, and a military version of FedEx,” he writes. “Uniformed officers from more than two dozen countries try to match Ukraine’s requests with donations from more than 40 nations, then arrange to move the shipments by air, land, or sea from the donor countries to Ukraine’s border for pickup. All within about 72 hours.” Worth the click, here.
By the way: Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin approved the medical treatment of wounded Ukrainian troops at a hospital in Germany, CNN reported Tuesday. However, “Despite the plan receiving final approval nearly one month ago, the hospital in Germany has not yet received Ukrainian service members for medical care,” according to Zach Cohen, who adds that this new plan “allows for the treatment of up to 18 wounded soldiers at a time at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.” More here.
Turkey’s military chief says Istanbul just launched a grain transport monitoring center to track potential future Ukrainian naval exports on the Black Sea. “Inside the center, located inside the National Defense University in Istanbul, a square table was set up with computer workstations, with one side of the table designated for each participant in the agreement, marked by Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish and U.N. flags,” the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday on location.
What could lie ahead: “The deal calls on both Ukraine and Russia not to attack ships exporting grain from Odessa and two other Black Sea ports,” Elvan Kivilcim and Jared Malsin of the Journal write. Meantime, “Ukrainian pilots are set to guide commercial ships carrying grain and other foodstuffs through the mine fields around the ports and out into the Black Sea.” Read more at the Associated Press, here.
After India canceled talks to buy Russian helicopters, the Philippines joined in canceling their own deal to buy Russian helos, according to AP, reporting Wednesday from Manila. “Former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday night he canceled the 12.7-billion-peso [$227 million] deal to acquire the Mi-17 helicopters in a decision last month,” shortly after former President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ended. Lorenzana said expected U.S. sanctions motivated Manila to make this call. Read more, here.
- “Putin’s New Police State,” via investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, writing in Foreign Affairs on Wednesday;
- “U.S., Europe Dig In for Long Economic Standoff With Russia,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Wednesday in a rollup of economic metrics and prognostications pointing to growing damage to Moscow, especially once the EU’s oil embargo kicks in in late 2022;
- “Russia cuts gas flows further as Europe urges energy saving,” Reuters reported Wednesday from Frankfurt and London;
- And “G7 aim to have price cap on Russian oil in place before Dec 5,” via Reuters, reporting separately from Brussels on Wednesday
Know somebody who’s not ready for the U.S. Army, but really wants to go anyway? Service officials elaborated somewhat Tuesday about their plan to soon launch the pilot program for a “Future Soldier Preparatory Class,” Defense One’s Libby Howe reports. The 90-day fitness and academic class is designed to improve the readiness of potential recruits who cannot meet Army accession standards. The first class is expected to begin in “early August,” service officials announced Tuesday.
The ultimate goal is to help reverse the Army’s downward recruiting trajectory, which is at its worst in four decades. And according to service officials, history suggests this new program could work. That’s because a similar preparatory school was held at South Carolina’s Fort Jackson—aka “relaxin’ Jackson,” as they called it when your D Brief-er finished basic there in the fall of 2007. That prep school operated for about three years, from 2008 to 2010, and notched a 95% graduation rate, cranking out more than 2,700 new soldiers. Read more about the Army’s ongoing recruiting woes, here; and read a bit more about this pilot program, here.
And lastly: Invoking the Defense Production Act to require an ice cream company to keep making “Choco Tacos” will only make the wider situation worse, Jeff Schogol argued Tuesday in Task & Purpose.
Wait, what? After the announcement Monday that Klondike will stop making Choco Tacos, Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, tweeted that he would introduce legislation to invoke the Defense Production Act to save the ice cream novelties. The tweet was just a joke, of course, but Schogol took the idea and ran with it, outlining the many reasons he believes it would not work. One such reason: “The risk [of] the military using the Defense Production Act to create another slush fund for defense contractors rather than expediting the supply of Choco Tacos cannot be overstated,” he writes. Read the rest, here.