The D Brief: Nuclear inspectors in Ukraine; More aid coming; US foils Iran robot-boat theft; Navy’s first female COB; And a bit more...

Nuclear inspectors have arrived in Ukraine, and soon should be able to provide an assessment of the danger posed by the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the New York Times and Reuters reported separately Tuesday from Kyiv. Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Wednesday that the first part of the inspection mission will take “a few days,” but the team may need to stay longer, depending on the situation at the plant, Reuters reported

“We have a very important task there to perform—to assess the real situation there, to help stabilize the situation as much as we can,” he said.

Fears of a radiation accident have been mounting since the plant was seized by Russian troops in March, and a power outage last week again brought the facility to the brink of disaster. 

Be prepared. Those fears prompted the European Union to send more than five million anti-radiation tablets to Ukraine—pills that can stop the body from absorbing radioactive iodine if there is a leak at Zaporizhzhia, BBC reports.

Though the plant is controlled by Russian troops, it’s still being run by Ukrainians. NPR talked to the former head of PR for the plant—who was there when the Russians took over but has since fled—about what that’s like for the engineers and workers who remain. Listen to that story, here.

More military aid for Ukraine. The White House is focused on making sure Ukrainians have the “information” and “tools” they need to effectively counter Russia, NSC’s John Kirby told reporters Wednesday, adding that the White House will announce more security assistance for Ukraine “in the coming days.” The Biden administration has already promised more than $13 billion in military aid to Ukraine in the six months since Russia’s initial invasion.

No draft for Russia. Vladimir Putin has been waging its war on Ukraine “with a military that is essentially at peacetime strength,” and has resisted all calls for instituting a draft to beef up the force during this so-called “special military operation,” NYT’s Anton Troianovski reports Wednesday. In a quote reminiscent of the Iraq surge-era feeling by the U.S. military that “We’re at war; America’s at the mall,” Putin supporter and former separatist leader Aleksandr Borodai told Troianovski that the Russian troops are “losing their health, sometimes dying,” while “the whole rest of the country, in whose interests the people at the front are fighting, is living an absolutely relaxed life and many people think that nothing is happening at all.” 

What may make more Russians take notice: EU foreign ministers have agreed to suspend the union’s visa agreement with Russia, CNN reports this morning. That decision, which has not yet been formally approved, will make it more difficult and expensive for Russians to visit the EU; ministers couldn’t agree on whether to ban Russian visitors outright, Reuters reports.  

Mikhail Gorbachev is dead at 91. Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was celebrated internationally for his role in ending the Cold War but despised by many fellow Russians who were unhappy with the country’s diminished size and status after the implosion of the USSR, AP and Reuters report. That bitterness eventually led to the rise of Putin, AP writes, “who has tried for the past quarter-century to restore Russia to its former glory and beyond.” 

Related reading: 

From Defense One

Army Prep Course Aims to Pull Youth Up to Recruiting Standards // Caitlin M. Kenney: Pilot program teaches students math, vocab, test-taking, and military discipline.

Iranian Navy Tries To Steal US Unmanned Vessel At Sea // Caitlin M. Kenney: This is the first time someone has tried to take one of 5th Fleet’s unmanned vessels.

Greenland's Melting Ice Has Locked In 10 Inches of Ocean Rise, Study Finds // Alun Hubbard, The Conversation: Observations show the ice sheet is liquifying faster than models predicted.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Jennifer Hlad, with Jacqueline Feldscher and 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 2010, President Barack Obama ended the U.S. war in Iraq.

The Army has grounded its Chinook fleet because of recent engine fires, the Wall Street Journal and Army Times reported Tuesday. But the service has “identified the root cause” of fuel leaks that have caused the problems for the CH-47s and has started implementing fixes, a service spokesperson told Army Times. The “small number” of engine fires did not cause any deaths or injuries, according to WSJ

Lastly today: Meet the U.S. Navy’s first female COB. It’s Master Chief Information Systems Technician (Submarine) Angela Koogler, who reported as Chief of the Boat—the senior enlisted sailor and advisor to the skipper and XO—aboard the ballistic-missile submarine Louisiana (SSBN 743) on Aug. 22. Koogler joined the Navy in 2002, eight years before the Navy ended its ban on women in sub crews. She will help lead the Louisiana’s Gold crew.

A short timeline of women on U.S. subs: 2011: first female sub officers. 2014: first enlisted women. 2014-15: Male sailors are caught videotaping their female shipmates; Navy begins reconfiguring berthing spaces. 2019: More women volunteer for sub duty than there are billets. 2022: First boomer cruise with women in the crew. 2030: Navy aims to have 14 gender-integrated crews.

Stay safe, and we’ll see you tomorrow.