Today's D Brief: Patriot battery damaged; Ukraine-aid deadline; Vax support declines for GOP; China slaps jokester; And a bit more.
One of Ukraine’s donated Patriot missile defense systems was damaged Tuesday morning by another barrage of Russian missiles aimed at Kyiv, according to the Russian military, as well as CNN and Reuters. But after the U.S. sent inspectors to the scene Tuesday, they determined the damage was “minimal” and that the Patriot system “remains functional,” CNN reported Wednesday morning.
Developing: U.S. aid for Ukraine is set to run out in September. That’s the math, which Sam Skove unpacked for Defense One on Tuesday, here. This concerns the money that Congress has approved to fund arms and other military assistance, which includes four supplemental bills that total $48.9 billion. The Biden administration has committed $36.4 billion of that, which means, at the average rate of disbursal since February 2022, the money will be all done around late September, which is expected to be several months into a massive counterattack against the invading force.
- Here’s a chart showing just how much aid has been approved and spent.
For the record: Lawmakers have begun publicly worrying about this; the White House didn’t respond to Defense One’s queries
The latest: CNN reported Wednesday that the administration plans to ask Congress for a new supplemental only in September.
Meanwhile back in Ukraine: Russian cruise missiles hit a shopping mall in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Wednesday, according to Ukraine’s Southern Military Command. “They don't understand,” the command wrote on Facebook, along with photos of the strike’s aftermath, “our ability to regenerate is higher than any of their destructive weapons!”
Ukraine says it has newly placed more than 5,500 anti-tank mines along its northern border “on the roads and paths of the enemy's probable advance,” the military announced Wednesday. Russia has been training its troops in Belarus for months, leading some observers to speculate a future Russian offensive could emerge from that direction. Another nearly “1.5 thousand meters of trenches and 3.5 thousand meters of anti-tank ditches were dug along the state border,” recently too, Ukrainian officials said. “Several dozen covered gaps, shelters and firing positions for personnel, as well as firing positions for equipment” were also allegedly constructed along the country’s northern border.
Russia’s military is also “cynically us[ing] preschools in temporarily captured settlements for their own purposes,” Ukraine’s military said Wednesday. “For example, the Russian occupiers use the building of a kindergarten in the Yuryivka village of Zaporizhzhya region to accommodate personnel.”
Despite a few public setbacks over the past two weeks, Russian forces are still benefiting from notable adaptations in frontline air defense systems and its logistics networks, especially since Ukraine obtained Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems from allies last summer. But those adaptations are also arguably why the Brits decided to donate some of their Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine, as Jack Watling of the London-based Royal United Services Institute explained at length in a new report published Monday.
Developing: The head of Russia’s Wagner convict-mercenary group says a former U.S. soldier was killed in fighting near the contested city of Bakhmut. The soldier, whose alleged name was Nick Maimer, appears to have been a former Green Beret who retired in 2018. Washington state’s Spokesman-Review has more on Maimer’s past, here.
- “The CIA Is Now Trying to Recruit Russian Spies On Telegram,” Time reported Tuesday after the ads were spotted online this week;
- “Russian Officials Unnerved by Ukraine Bloodshed Are Contacting CIA, Agency Says,” the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday;
- “Computer in Russia breached [Washington, D.C.’s] Metro system amid security concerns, report says,” the Washington Post reported from an incident that occurred in January, according to the Metro’s Office of the Inspector General;
- “South Africa’s flirtation with Moscow risks billions of dollars in US exports,” the Financial Times reports;
- And don’t miss the Wall Street Journal’s Tuesday profile of the UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, aka MBZ, whom the Journal writes “has positioned the U.A.E. as a friend to all sides since Moscow invaded Ukraine.” We discussed MBZ in our latest podcast, which looks back at the last eight years of war in Yemen.
From Defense One
US Aid to Ukraine On Track to Run Out in September // Sam Skove: In Washington, some are beginning to wonder what Biden is waiting for.
How One Millennial Ukrainian Is Defeating Russians: Viral Videos, Collaboration, and Lots of Drones // Sam Skove: But the 34-year-old battalion commander said if he had his enemies’ arsenal, he would “burn them off of the earth.”
Regulate AI to Boost Trustworthiness and Avoid Catastrophe, Experts Tell Lawmakers // Patrick Tucker: The difference between AI that’s a boon to society or a curse lies in truthfulness, a uniquely human concept.
Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1995, 35-year-old troubled Army veteran Shawn Nelson drove his van on the grounds of an Army National Guard armory in San Diego and, after 15 minutes spent breaking locks, eventually fled in a stolen M60A3 tank. He drove it around the area for six miles, smashing dozens of cars, traffic lights, fire hydrants, and electricity poles before the tank hit a traffic barrier, dislodging one of the treads. Police descended on the tank, then shot and killed Nelson after he refused to surrender.
Japan, China launch defense hotline. The telephone connection, intended to help prevent accidental escalation, was used for the first time on Tuesday, when Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu for about 20 minutes starting at 4:30 p.m. Tokyo time.
The hotline is “part of a broader communications mechanism between Tokyo and Beijing that was introduced earlier to prevent accidental clashes at sea or in the air,” NHK reports.
A brief history of hotlines is available at the Arms Control Association website, here.
Chinese officials fined a comedy firm that joked about a military slogan. In a move that has ignited public debate, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Bureau hit Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media Co with a $2.13 million penalty on Wednesday for a comedian’s remarks at a show it hosted.
The offending joke: Li Haoshi, who performs under the name House, “recounted seeing two stray dogs he had adopted chase a squirrel and said it had reminded him of the phrase ‘have a good work style, be able to fight and win battles,’ a slogan Chinese President Xi Jinping used in 2013 to praise the PLA’s work ethic,” NBC News reported.
And lastly, in public health news: Researchers at the Tech Transparency Project found that YouTube is “failing to stop the spread of frightening videos that could traumatize vulnerable children—or send them down dark roads of extremism and violence,” according to the Associated Press, reporting Tuesday.
Among the findings:
- “Many of the videos violated YouTube’s own policies on firearms, violence, and child safety, and YouTube took no apparent steps to age-restrict them,” the report’s authors write;
- “Some of the recommended videos gave instructions on how to convert guns into automatic weapons or depicted school shootings.”
- And perhaps unsurprisingly, “The more the boys watched the videos recommended by YouTube, the more of this content they got.” Full report, here.
When it comes to childhood vaccines for ailments like measles, mumps and rubella, a new survey by the Pew Research Center reveals the majority of Americans believe the benefits outweigh the risks.
But since 2019, however, “White evangelical Protestants—a largely Republican group—have also become much less supportive of vaccine requirements in public schools,” even if it creates a public health crisis. And that support for vaccines has declined nearly 20 percentage points since just before the Covid pandemic began. For example, among Republicans, “57% now support requiring children to be vaccinated to attend public schools, down from 79% in 2019,” Pew writes. “By contrast, there’s been no meaningful change in the large share of Democrats (85%) who support school-based vaccine requirements.” Read more, here.