Today's D Brief: Putin hearts China; Russia's Ukraine invasion, one year on; Pentagon's cloud forecast grows hazy; New US border policy?; And a bit more.

Russia’s autocratic leader seems quite pleased to be publicly tying his horse to China’s future. Beijing’s leading diplomat visited Moscow in a high-profile trip Wednesday, during which Russia’s Vladimir Putin assured reporters, “The cooperation between China and Russia on the world stage is very important to stabilize the international situation.” 

China’s top dog, Wang Yi, stressed the two countries are on the same page when it comes to “multipolarity and [the] democratization of international relations,” extending Putin’s frequent complaints about alleged American “hegemony” and “unipolarity” in the 21st century world.

Worth noting: Wang seemed less eager than Putin, promising publicly Wednesday that China “will firmly pursue an independent and autonomous foreign policy,” while also attempting to “open new horizons for developing cooperation not only with Russia but also with all countries in the world through China's modernization,” according to Russian state-run media TASS. The Associated Press has a bit more from that visit to Moscow, here

It’s been almost exactly a year since Putin invaded Ukraine, and we’ve already got plenty of anniversary reads to consider—including:

Failure to launch? Russia reportedly attempted to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile over the weekend, but U.S. officials say the effort ended in failure. CNN initially reported on Wednesday the ICBM test occurred during U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv on Monday; but U.S. officials disputed that detail later in the evening, saying it occurred on Saturday, Feb. 18. More, here

Putin’s tough-guy speech Tuesday added nothing new to our understanding of the Ukraine war, according to the British military, writing the following day on Twitter. In that address, Putin perhaps most notably reminded the world that Russia is suspending its role in the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S., known as the New START agreement. But that was well known before Tuesday, the British remind us—pointing out Moscow’s apparent lack of new talking points after nearly a year of fighting a war Russian officials thought would take less than a week. 

“Putin continued the bellicose tone he has adopted in speeches over the last six months, but did not reveal any practical measures which might relieve Russia’s current deadlock on the battlefield,” the Brits said Wednesday. “Putin continues to present a contradictory narrative of existential struggle, while insisting everything in Russia is fine and going to plan. This renders both messages ineffective,” they said in their latest daily tweet thread focusing on developments inside Ukraine. 

One last thing: An apparent U.S.-made Black Hawk helicopter has been spotted in the hands of Ukraine’s military. The Drive explored what’s likely going on in a sort-of explainer, here.

Additional reading: 

From Defense One

Pentagon Didn't Check Risks Before Authorizing Cloud Services, IG Finds // Edward Graham: The military branches “may be unaware of known vulnerabilities and cybersecurity risks associated with operating their systems or storing their data,” the Pentagon inspector general found.

Got New Autonomous Tech? The Army Wants to See It // Carten Cordell: Officials are gathering candidates for a second autonomous-tech assessment: air-ground robots, voice-guided technology, and more. 

Russia’s New START Speech Is More Scare Tactics Than New Arms Race, Says Former Ambassador // Patrick Tucker: Putin left himself a loophole and doesn’t have the funds anyway.

Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Russia touts weapons in Middle East; Army moves to boost artillery round production; Lockheed to start installing hypersonic missiles on destroyers; and more.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to this newsletter, you can do that here. On this day in 1974, 44-year-old down and out Army veteran Samuel Byck shot and killed a policeman and a pilot as he tried to hijack a passenger plane in Baltimore and fly it into the White House as part of his plan to assassinate President Richard Nixon. The aircraft never left the ground, and police were able to wound Byck before he shot and killed himself inside the plane. 

Destroyers from the U.S., Japan, and Republic of Korea conducted a ballistic missile defense exercise in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, Indo-Pacific Command said in a press release. The trilateral exercise “enhances the interoperability of our collective forces and demonstrates the strength of the trilateral relationship,” according to the release. Involved: The USS Barry, the JS Atago, and the ROKS Sejong the Great.
South China Sea patrols could be growing. The exercise above comes as Australian and Philippine officials began considering joint patrols in the South China Sea, Reuters reported Wednesday from Manila. The Philippines has also discussed starting joint patrols with the U.S. in the South China Sea, which is part of Manila’s renewed efforts to counter “aggressive activities” by China, Reuters reported separately Monday.
From the region:

American troops in the Middle East are pitching in for earthquake relief efforts in Turkey. That includes sending enough tents to shelter about 4,000 people as part of a wider package of aid that weighs 300,000 pounds, U.S. officials at the Tampa-based Central Command said Tuesday. The equipment is being flown from U.S. facilities in Bahrain and to the Incirlik air base, in south-central Turkey.
In Syria’s capital city of Damascus, which was also devastated by the earthquake, a deadly rocket attack Sunday “hit an installation where Iranian officials were meeting to advance programs to develop drone or missile capabilities” of Iran’s allies, Reuters reported. Syria has pointed the finger at Israel for that attack. 

New border entry policy in the works? The White House wants all asylum-seeking migrants to use a new mobile phone app “to schedule an appointment with U.S. authorities to review their application,” the New York Times reported Tuesday. The app is called “CBP One,” and White House officials want asylum seekers to begin using it ahead of the removal of a strict, health-related entry policy known as Title 42, which will formally end in May. The new plan will require migrants to “prove that they were denied safe haven while in transit to the United States, such as from Guatemala or Mexico, to be allowed in.”
One current problem with the app-based plan: “[T]he system has been overloaded by huge demand and plagued with glitches since tens of thousands of migrants staying in shelters on the Mexican side of the border began using it,” the Times reported. According to one immigration lawyer that the newspaper spoke to, “only two out of 240 people had managed to secure an appointment” on the day the Times reached out. Continue reading, here

And lastly: After two weeks of allegedly spilling sensitive emails onto the open internet, the U.S. military says it has secured an exposed server, TechCrunch reported Tuesday. The server in question was hosted on Microsoft’s Azure government cloud for the Pentagon, but it was misconfigured and had no password—meaning that anyone could access it if they knew the IP address.
Most of those emails were related to U.S. Special Operations Command, according to TechCrunch, and one included a completed SF-86 questionnaire. More details, here.