Today's D Brief: More missiles hit Ukraine; Before-and-after Bakhmut photos; Army recruiter’s view; Turkey’s naval complaint; And a bit more.
Ukraine’s air force says it shot down 29 of 30 Russian missiles overnight, including almost two dozen cruise missiles. Russia’s military shortly afterward insisted “All assigned objects [were] hit” in the barrage, including “significant stocks of weapons” in unspecified locations.
According to Ukraine’s Southern Military Command, at least one of “the downed missiles fell on the buildings of industrial enterprises [in the southern port city of Odesa], which were damaged,” leading to the death of one civilian guard and injuries to two others. “We remind you once again that even with the successful operation of anti-aircraft defense, debris from missiles shot down in the sky can pose a serious threat to people's lives on the ground,” the command said Thursday morning, with supporting imagery of about a dozen images showing missile fragments and blast debris.
View new satellite images of the devastated Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, thanks to a dozen before-and-after photos released Wednesday by Maxar. The differences between May 2022 and May 2023 are incredibly stark, as you can see in the gallery, here.
China’s Russian invasion envoy met with Ukraine’s top diplomat Thursday in Kyiv. But there were no “breakthroughs” in that conversation since Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba made it clear that Ukraine has no interest in “any proposals that mean losing territory to Russia,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Developing: After more than a half dozen of Russia’s hypersonic missiles were allegedly shot down over Ukraine this week, the Kremlin confirmed it is investigating three of its hypersonic missile scientists on allegations of treason. The three men—Anatoly Maslov, Alexander Shiplyuk and Valery Zvegintsev—were arrested at some point “over the past year,” according to a letter from their professional colleagues defending them against the allegations.
“We know each of them as a patriot and a decent person who is not capable of doing what the investigating authorities suspect them of,” their coworkers said in the letter, which was made public this week. They also said the Kremlin is effectively shooting itself in the foot with the investigations, which are almost certain to discourage young Russian scientists from seeking work in their home country. Reuters has more on the Kremlin’s public comments Wednesday regarding the case, here.
Russian investigators are also reportedly scouring universities for signs of “extremism” among staff and students, according to the BBC’s Russia service, reporting Wednesday from St. Petersburg. The investigations include class observation—among anthropology, history, sociology and political science courses—and a review of teachers’ documents. Story, via Google Translate, here.
G7 leaders are in Hiroshima, Japan, today in part to discuss pathways toward peace in Ukraine. But they’re also expected to discuss China’s growing regional ambitions as well as possible challenges presented by artificial intelligence, CNN and CBS News reported in separate previews.
Also today: China is hosting the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for a two-day regional summit in the central Chinese city of Xi’an. “China’s interest in Central Asia stems from longstanding concerns about violence and ethnic tensions in the country’s far western region of Xinjiang, which shares a border with Central Asian countries,” the New York Times reported Thursday, and noted, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, has unnerved Central Asia, stirring concerns that Russia could try to seize other places formerly part of the Soviet Union, or encourage separatists.”
New: China is asking nations with embassies on Chinese soil to stop publicly showing their support for Ukraine, referring to such support—like displaying the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, e.g.—as unwanted “propaganda.” The Associated Press reports China’s Foreign Ministry distributed the request last week.
By the way: Taiwan’s top-ranking lawmaker says the international community's support for Ukraine is helping deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. “I believe that after Xi Jinping sees how difficult it has been to conquer Ukraine because of the collective support from the international community, this will deter Xi from becoming like Putin and prevent him from taking any reckless action. This is helpful for Taiwan,” said You Si-kun, president of Taiwan’s legislative assembly, during an event hosted by the Washington-based Hudson Institute on Tuesday.
- “An Untested Oil Price Cap Has Helped Choke Revenue to Russia,” the New York Times reported Thursday;
- “Train Derails in Russia-Controlled Crimea, With Authorities Blaming ‘Outsiders’,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday; Reuters has similar coverage that’s not paywalled, here;
- See also “How Ukraine turned the tables on Russia’s aerial assault with these Western weapons,” via CNN, reporting Wednesday on the variety of air defense systems Ukraine’s allies have donated.
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Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Today is Vyshyvanka Day, which is an international holiday highlighting Ukrainian folk traditions like the country's ethnic embroidered clothes known as vyshyvanky. Here are some photos of Ukrainian soldiers celebrating the occasion, via the Southern Military Command’s Facebook page. President Volodymir Zelenskyy also marked the day on social media, along with a message marking “the unity of the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar peoples.”
Discord leaks latest: The enlisted airman accused of leaking classified documents online allegedly accessed classified information unrelated to his job several times months before his arrest in April. That’s according to new court documents made public Wednesday after federal prosecutors updated their case. According to AP, “A September memo from the Air National Guard 102nd Intelligence Wing that prosecutors filed in court says [Jack] Teixeira had been observed taking notes on classified intelligence information and putting the notes in his pocket. Teixeira was instructed at the time to no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence information, the memo says.” But Teixeira did it again in October and in February. Read more, here.
Turkey is complaining about a U.S. Navy warship’s port visit to Cyprus. One day after the destroyer Arleigh Burke put into Limmasol on Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the visit “disrupts the balance” in the region “at the expense of the Turkish Cypriot side” and damages Washington’s “long-standing neutral position as regards the island.” (Bloomberg, Al-Monitor)
It’s not clear why Ankara is particularly irked by this particular visit. U.S. warships have long paid visits to Cyprus, one of just five European Union states that are not also part of NATO. And in April, a visit by the U.S. attack submarine San Juan drew a complaint only from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Turkey-backed, internationally unrecognized government that controls the island’s northeastern half. (Want to get up to speed on the division? International Crisis Group has an explainer.)
Perhaps Turkey’s sensitivity has something to do with the ongoing presidential election. Longtime president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan failed to win outright re-election last week, and will now face opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in a runoff.
Russia watch: In a pierside interview, Arleigh Burke destroyer skipper Cmdr. Peter Flynn said there’s been “no significant change” in the conduct of Russian warplanes and naval vessels in the region. The Russians “have been conducting themselves professionally, like other military forces in the region, and there’s been no indication of any heightened aggression or hostility,” AP reported.