Today's D Brief: Canada, France, UK send weapons to Kyiv; Russia digs trenches; IRGC in Ukraine?; N. Korea tests cruise missiles; And a bit more.
The Brits are sending “hundreds” of air defense missiles to Kyiv’s military, “including AMRAAM rockets which are capable of shooting down cruise missiles,” the Defense Ministry announced Thursday. “The rockets will help to protect Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure, with the announcement coming days after Russian missiles struck civilian targets in cities across Ukraine,” officials said in a statement.
Also coming inbound from London: “[H]undreds of additional aerial drones to support Ukraine’s information gathering and logistics capabilities, and a further 18 howitzer artillery guns, in addition to the 64 already delivered,” the British military said Thursday.
Canada is donating $47 million in drones, artillery, satellite services, and winter clothing to Ukraine, Defense Minister Anita Anand announced Wednesday from the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels. Ottawa is also sending 40 combat engineers to train Ukrainian troops inside Poland; Reuters has more on that, here.
And France says it’s sending radar and air defense systems to Kyiv, specifically to protect against “drone and missile attacks,” President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday—though he was not precise about what systems would be involved.
BTW: Ukraine’s military sent a love letter to Paris on Wednesday in the form of a 41-second video featuring some classic elements of French culture. See that, via Twitter, here.
The view from Berlin: “Vladimir Putin and his enablers have made one thing very clear: this war is not only about Ukraine,” but it’s “part of a larger crusade, a crusade against liberal democracy,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reportedly said during an ongoing speech Thursday in the capital city.
Battlefield latest: Russian troops are digging a trench system in occupied Luhansk, according to drone footage allegedly obtained from the region recently. There also seems to have been a brief, drone-on-drone dogfight recently in the skies of Ukraine (Kyiv allegedly came out on top in that one, but it’s difficult to say with certainty).
Stunning alleged casualty update: An estimated 90,000 Russian soldiers have been categorized as “irrecoverable losses,” which means they are either dead, disabled, or missing—according to the Latvia-based independent Russian news website Meduza, which claims to have sourced that figure from a contact in Russia’s FSB. If true, that would be about half of all the soldiers Russia has sent to Ukraine, according to U.S. historian Aaron Astor.
Repairs seem to be underway at the only bridge linking occupied Crimea to Russia, according to new satellite imagery released Wednesday by Maxar. An explosion, likely from a truck bomb, rocked one lane of the bridge over the weekend in an apparent attack Russian officials blamed on Ukraine. But by Wednesday, vehicles were seen traveling along the single remaining car lane on the Kerch Bridge, and a ferry appeared to be carrying trucks around the area, according to Maxar.
Russian authorities arrested eight people allegedly linked to the bridge damage on Wednesday. That included five Russian citizens, and three others from Ukraine and Armenia. According to the FSB, Moscow’s successor agency to the KGB, “the explosive device was camouflaged in rolls of construction polyethylene film on 22 pallets with a total weight of 22.7 tonnes, and moved from Ukraine to Russia via Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia,” Reuters reported Wednesday.
Apparent Iranian drones have hit Ukraine’s capital city, as well as the port city of Odesa, the Associated Press reported Thursday from Kyiv. It’s unclear just yet if anyone was killed or injured in the attacks.
And Ukrainian officials insist advisors from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are on the ground in occupied Ukraine training Russian troops in the use of Shahed-136 drones. “These UAVs are slow and fly at low altitudes making lone aircraft easy to target using conventional air defenses,” the British military said Wednesday, and noted that because of its small payload, “It is unlikely to be satisfactorily fulfilling the deep strike function which Russia probably aspired to use it for.” As for the advisors, they’re believed to be working in Dzankoi in Crimea and Zalizniy Port and Hladivtsi in Kherson Oblast, the Institute for the Study of War wrote Wednesday evening in its latest update.
Back in the motherland, Russia is reportedly mobilizing people from homeless shelters and hostels, according to the independent news website Mediazona. “The police come here without anyone asking. They see a queue of people waiting for food—and then they grab them by the scruff of the neck, against their will,” one person who reportedly runs an Orthodox Christian organization called Salvation Hangar told Mediazona. The Moscow Times has a bit more, here.
Coverage continues below…
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Welcome to this Thursday 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 1775, America’s Continental Navy was established at the urging of George Washington.
143 out of 193 nations condemned Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Ukrainian territory, and demanded Moscow reverse the decision in an afternoon vote Wednesday at the United Nations.
Even the UAE and Saudi Arabia condemned Putin’s annexation. The Emirates, in particular, had been playing their cards a bit close to their chest for the first several months of the invasion, abstaining in early critical votes and welcoming sanctioned oligarchs, e.g.
Just four countries sided with Russia: North Korea, Syria, Belarus, and Nicaragua. Thirty-five others chose not to vote at all—including China, India, and Pakistan (the remaining 10 nations do not appear to have sent a delegate to participate). View the full 193-nation breakdown, here.
POTUS46: “The overwhelming majority of the world—nations from every region, large and small, representing a wide array of ideologies and governments—voted to defend the United Nations Charter and condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Ukrainian territory by force,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement Wednesday. “143 nations stood on the side of freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, [which is] even more than the 141 nations that voted in March to unequivocally condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
“The stakes of this conflict are clear to all,” Biden said. “Russia cannot erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia cannot change borders by force. Russia cannot seize another country’s territory as its own. Ukraine is entitled to the same rights as every other sovereign country. It must be able to choose its own future, and its people must be able to live peacefully inside its internationally recognized borders.”
“We will not tolerate illegal attempts at annexation or the theft of a neighbor’s land by force,” the president said, and declared, “We will stand up for international law, the UN Charter, and the rights and protections it affords to Ukraine and its people—and to every state and people everywhere.”
The big picture: “We are in the early years of a decisive decade,” Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said at an event Wednesday in Washington previewing the White House’s new National Security Strategy, which you can find in PDF, here. “So, we need to grasp our moment, just as [POTUS33 Harry] Truman did” when he signed America’s first such strategy in 1947 before spearheading the Russia-focused NATO alliance as well as the Marshall Plan to help Europe recover from the Second World War. “Putin is making reckless nuclear threats. Willfully violating the UN Charter. Relentlessly targeting civilians. Acting with a brutality that threatens to drag us all back into the dark days of Soviet expansionism,” Sullivan said.
But China “is the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and the growing capacity to do it,” Sullivan warned. Beijing’s “assertiveness at home and abroad is advancing an illiberal vision across economic, political, security, and technological realms in competition with the West,” he said. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker has more on that new National Security Strategy document, and you can find that here.
- “How Ukrainian Strategy Is Running Circles Around Russia’s Lumbering Military,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Wednesday off tactics that are cutting off Russian troops from fuel and ammo supplies;
- “How a US firm supplied networking technology to maker of feared Russian missiles,” via Reuters in a special report published Wednesday concerning a company known as Extreme Networks (EXTR.O);
- “China faces its ‘Sputnik’ moment as US export curbs deal a blow to its chip ambitions,” also via Reuters, reporting Thursday;
- And “The defiance of Ukraine’s railways and how they #KeepRunning,” via the Financial Times, reporting Wednesday.
And lastly today: In the dark of night, North Korea launched what it says were two tactical nuclear-capable cruise missiles, which would add up to nearly 48 missiles that the “hermit kingdom” has flown during more than two dozen different tests this calendar year.
The missiles allegedly flew for about 1,240 miles “in oval and figure-eight patterns over the West Sea for about 170 minutes,” according to North Korean state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has a tiny bit more, here.
By the way: South Korea totally lost track of a U.S.-made Army Tactical Missile System rocket launched last week in response to a previous North Korean missile test. The U.S. military fired two, and the South Korean military fired two as well; it’s just that one of Seoul’s two missiles “went out of contact, meaning it remains unknown whether it hit an intended target,” according to Yonhap, reporting separately on Thursday.
This appears to be different from Seoul’s Oct. 5 Hyunmoo-2C ballistic missile failure that sent the rocket “around 1 kilometer back of the launch point and just 700 meters away from the nearest civilian home,” Yonhap writes. That missile’s “explosion and subsequent fire panicked and confused residents of the coastal city of Gangneung,” as the Associated Press reported at the time. NKNews has more on the latest launch Thursday, here.