Today's D Brief: NATO warns 'winter is coming' for Ukraine; German support for Kyiv remains high; North Korea's nuclear promise; DOD's Pakistan flood aid; And a bit more.

Winter is coming soon, so the leader of NATO is asking allies to begin planning to help Ukraine through what could be a particularly harsh several months ahead, since Russian invaders show no signs of giving up their occupation of Ukraine anytime soon. 

“The winter is coming, it's going to be hard, and therefore we need both to continue to supply weapons and ammunition but also winter clothing, tents, generators and all the specific equipment which is needed for the winter," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Brussels on Friday.

“The United States is leading the way,” Stoltenberg said, standing beside Blinken. “And I welcome the billions of dollars of additional support announced this week…We all agreed on the importance of stepping up and sustaining our military support, so that Ukraine prevails as an independent sovereign state.”

The NATO chief even took a moment to remind folks of the stakes of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, warning, “All of us will pay a much higher price if Russia and other authoritarian regimes see that their aggression is rewarded. If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, it will cease to exist as an independent nation. So we must stay the course, for Ukraine’s sake and for ours.”

Blinken spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy on Thursday. His message, on behalf of the United States: “We’re with Ukraine today. We will be with Ukraine tomorrow and for however long it takes to deal with Russia’s aggression,” he told reporters the following morning in Poland. “And I come away, again, very confident in Ukraine’s future because the Ukrainians are fighting for their homeland. It’s their homeland, not Russia’s,” Blinken said.

“The challenge is to get through the coming winter,” Blinken said from the airport in Rzeszow. “But there’s also a tremendous opportunity born of necessity. The opportunity is finally, once and for all, to move away from this [Europe-wide gas and oil] dependence on Russia—to get rid of the chokehold that Russia has on Europe, using energy as a weapon, and to diversify supply, diversify roots, but also do it in a way that addresses the climate challenge.”

By the way: The U.S. Treasury Department just sanctioned five people allegedly involved in shipping Iranian drones to Russia. That also includes “three companies and one individual involved in the research, development, production, and procurement of Iranian UAVs and UAV components,” according to a release posted Thursday. The sanctions target Tehran-based Safiran Airport Services (aka, Safiran); drone-makers Paravar Pars Company, Design and Manufacturing of Aircraft Engines (aka, DAMA), Baharestan Kish Company; and Kish managing director Rehmatollah Heidari. 

“Russia is making increasingly desperate choices to continue its unprovoked war against Ukraine, particularly in the face of our unprecedented sanctions and export controls,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement. “Non-Iranian, non-Russian entities should also exercise great caution to avoid supporting either the development of Iranian UAVs or their transfer, or sale of any military equipment to Russia for use against Ukraine,” he warned. 

Welcome news from Germany: There’s now widespread support from Germans who want to continue supporting Ukraine, despite high energy prices—to the tune of 70% of those polled, according to new data from German broadcaster ZDF. (It also maintains similar polling results from July, as reported by Reuters at the time.) “Similar to the situation since July, 40 percent are calling for stronger Western military support for Ukraine, 30 percent are in favor of unchanged military engagement and 24 percent want a reduction in military aid,” ZDF writes off the latest survey. 

Those numbers are resonant with recent U.S. surveys, which revealed nearly six in 10 “say the United States should support Ukraine for as long as it takes, even if American households will have to pay higher gas and food prices in consequence,” according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Reuters/Ipsos found similar results in a separate poll published in late August as well. 

Related reading: 

From Defense One

Ukraine’s Western Arms Have Inflicted ‘Significant Damage’ On Russian Supply, Communications Lines, Top US Officer Says // Patrick Tucker: HIMARS alone has been used to hit more than 400 targets, Gen. Milley said at a meeting of Kyiv’s international supporters.

The Naval Brief // Caitlin M. Kenney: Drones seized again; Defueling Red Hill faster; More weapons, aid for Ukraine; and more.

Queen Elizabeth II Dead at 96 // Jacqueline Feldscher: King Charles III succeeds Britain’s longest-serving monarch and most prominent global leader.

Sharing Secrets Has Been ‘Effective’ Against Russia, But the Tactic Has Limits, CIA Chief Says // Lauren C. Williams: It’s just one of the new areas for a spy agency grappling with tech-driven changes.

US Adds $675M in Arms, $2B in Financial Aid for Ukraine, Region // Patrick Tucker: As well, the Defense Contact Group met in Germany to discuss how to support Ukraine over the “long haul,” the Defense Secretary said.

Shield Critical Infrastructure from Electromagnetic Pulses, DHS Says // Edward Graham: The National Public Warning System offers a model for defending other vital systems and services.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson and 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 2015, Britain’s Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, having then surpassed Victoria’s record of 63 years, 216 days. Queen Elizabeth added another seven years to her reign before passing away Thursday at the age of 96. 

Unsurprisingly, North Korea’s leader again promised he will never give up his nuclear arsenal. Kim Jong Un updated previous 2013 laws this week as he declared his country’s nuclear status is “irreversible,” and that Pyongyang would never give up the weapons even if the country faces 100 years of sanctions, Reuters’ Josh Smith reported Friday. NK News’s Jeongmin Kim rattled off a quick 2013-2022 comparison on Twitter, and you can see for yourself what’s changed, here.
Perhaps surprisingly, Kim also vowed not to share nuclear weapons with other countries—but that, too, is a promise he had made before, North Korea-watcher Ankit Panda noted on Twitter, with receipts. Read more from AP’s coverage, here.
From the region: 

And lastly this week: Pakistan is facing $30 billion in flood damage after record monsoon rains have swept away homes, bridges, railroads, and killed more than 1,400 people since mid-June. Some 6 million need immediate humanitarian assistance, and as many as 33 million people have had their lives upended from the devastation, which is expected to reduce annual GDP by at least 2%, government officials said this week, according to Reuters
For a sense of scale, consider this: “In July and August, Pakistan recorded 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rainfall—nearly 190% more than the 30-year average,” Reuters writes. And in some places, like the southern province of Sindh, there’s been “466% more rain than average.” Other regions in high need include Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab, according to the United Nations. “While daily rainfall has decreased since peaking two weeks ago, medium flood risk levels persist along the Indus River, between Sukkur and Kotri districts in Sindh and rising to high flood risk downstream of Kotri into the Arabian Sea,” UN officials said Friday.
The UN says it’s focusing its efforts on three main fronts: 

  • Delivering “lifesaving and livelihood assistance” for basic needs like food, clean water, and shelter;
  • Preventing large outbreaks of communicable diseases, like cholera; 
  • And making sure people can actually access these services as rains continue to diminish over the coming days and weeks. 

And the U.S. military just sent its first plane-load of humanitarian aid to flood-ravaged Pakistan, at the government’s request. That C-17 departed from a U.S. warehouse in Dubai and landed in Sindh Province on Thursday, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Hear more from USAID Administrator Samantha Power, here

Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!