Today's D Brief: Putin's draft shakes up society; G7, NATO condemn Russian referendum; North Korea's 32nd missile launch in 2022; And a bit more.
Alleged imagery continued to pour in over the weekend (here, here, and here, e.g.) appearing to show ordinary Russians reacting negatively to Vladimir Putin’s military draft, which is being referred to as a “partial mobilization” by Kremlin officials. Thousands more than normal seem to still be fleeing the country, especially in the south near the border with Georgia, while others are unsuccessfully trying to leave the capital city of Moscow.
One man opened fire on a recruiting station in Siberia, “wounding its commander, hours after another man rammed a car into the entrance of a different recruitment center and set fire to it with Molotov cocktails,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Kremlin officials are even mulling martial law to keep military-aged men from leaving—since that’s becoming a problem near Kazakhstan, especially in southeastern regions of Kurgan and Tyumen. Reuters has a bit more, here.
Surprise, surprise: Russian state-run media says referendum votes are “valid already,” and Putin is prepared to speak to parliamentarians soon. That’s according to TASS, which says voter turnout in partially-occupied Donetsk, Ukraine, “exceeded 77% by 08:00 pm on Sunday.”
ICYMI: G7 leaders issued a rare statement condemning Russia’s annexation votes on Friday, calling it a “sham referenda…to create a phony pretext for changing the status of Ukrainian sovereign territory.” (G7 members include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.)
“We will never recognise these referenda, which appear to be a step toward Russian annexation and we will never recognise a purported annexation if it occurs,” G7 leaders said. “In addition, we deplore deliberate Russian escalatory steps, including the partial mobilization of reservists and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric.” In response, they said they are prepared to escalate further with additional sanctions, raising “economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities.”
NATO released its own statement condemning Putin’s referendum “in the strongest possible terms” last week, too. “No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal,” alliance officials said on Thursday, citing the UN charter. “These lands are Ukraine,” they declared, and “call[ed] on all states to reject Russia’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest.”
Happening today in Brussels: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meets with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
India’s top diplomat is visiting the Pentagon today. Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is scheduled for a 2:15 p.m. ET arrival, with no planned remarks to reporters, according to the Defense Department. But when it comes to Putin’s invasion, Jaishankar addressed United Nations delegates a few different times over the past several days as part of annual General Assembly meetings.
“As the Ukraine conflict continues to rage, we are often asked whose side are we on,” Jaishankar said Sunday. “And our answer, each time, is straight and honest. India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there. We are on the side that respects the UN Charter and its founding principles,” he said, echoing rhetoric from U.S. President Joe Biden last week before the General Assembly. “It is therefore in our collective interest to work constructively, both within the United Nations and outside, in finding an early resolution to this conflict,” Jaishankar said.
“In a globalized world, the impact of the conflict is being felt even in distant regions,” he told UN Security Council members last week in New York. “We have all experienced its consequences in terms of surging costs and actual shortages of foodgrains, fertilizers, and fuel,” Jaishankar said on Thursday. “That is why India strongly reiterates the need for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and a return to dialogue and diplomacy. Clearly, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasized, this cannot be an era of war.”
- "Swastika-wearing ex-pupil kills 15 in Russian school shooting," Reuters reported Monday from Moscow;
- “Biden Administration Resists Call to Broaden Plan for Russia Oil-Price Cap,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Monday;
- “Biden’s Cautious Foreign Policy Imperils Us,” argues Kori Schake of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, writing in the New York Times on Monday—zeroing in on what she alleges is a “gap between what the administration is claiming as their foreign policy objectives, and what it is actually willing to do”;
- See also: “The right-wing turn against Ukraine may be around the corner,” via the Washington Post’s WorldView newsletter Monday, noting that “Russia-friendly political factions” are seeing more support at the polls, “the far right has emerged as kingmakers in ongoing coalition talks in Sweden,” and Italy just elected a far-right coalition led by EU-basher Giorgia Meloni; the Wall Street Journal had slightly earlier U.S. coverage of this issue on Saturday, citing an “expected” change in House leadership after the November midterm elections.
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Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with 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 1983, the Soviet military very nearly triggered a surprise nuclear war with the U.S., but Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov had a feeling that his computer monitoring systems were feeding him incorrect information when it communicated that six U.S. missiles were headed for the Soviet Union; an actual American nuclear strike, Petrov reasoned, would surely involve far more than just a half-dozen missiles. He was correct, and the system was wrong—but he would be reprimanded for his discrimination and judgement, and transferred out of that job the next year. The BBC has more in a report on the incident from 1998.
While U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits the region, North Korea launched another missile over the weekend, which was Pyongyang’s 19th test of the calendar year. Already, this has been the busiest year for North Korean missile tests ever, according to a database that was last updated in June; there have been two more tests since then.
Involved: A short-range ballistic missile, according to South Korea’s military, which said the missile flew for about 372 miles at a trajectory that reached as high as 40 or so miles, before crashing down into the waters east of North Korea.
The launch data suggests the missile could have hit the South Korean port city of Busan, where a U.S. carrier arrived late last week, as analyst Ankit Panda noted on Twitter. Officials at the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Sunday that the launch “does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,” but the episode “highlights the destabilizing impact of [North Korea]’s unlawful [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile programs.”
The U.S. and South Korean navies just began four days of drills, which are their first such joint exercises in five years. The USS Ronald Reagan is the carrier pulling duty for the U.S. side, which is operating with its South Korean allies in the East Sea, according to Yonhap news agency. At least two of Seoul’s destroyers are involved, including one—Seoae Ryu Sung-ryong—equipped with Aegis missile defense components.
VP Harris dropped by Tokyo on Monday, in part for the state funeral of slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the following day. Harris spent some time with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday; Kishida has been in office just short of a year, and is presiding over what could be a historic and unprecedented rise in Japanese defense spending. While there, Harris called the U.S.-Japanese “alliance…a cornerstone of what we believe is integral to peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to the Associated Press, which is traveling with Harris, and reminds readers that more than 50,000 U.S. troops are presently stationed in Japan.
- “Home to 28,000 U.S. troops, South Korea unlikely to avoid a Taiwan conflict,” via Reuters, reporting Monday from Seoul;
- “‘Idiots:’ South Korean president recorded insulting US lawmakers over global health funding,” via USA Today, reporting Friday from New York;
- “Yoon says alliance with U.S. damaged by untrue reports of remarks caught on hot mic,” via Yonhap news agency, reporting Monday from Seoul.