The D Brief: Israel’s deadly hostage rescue; Ukraine’s deep-strike claim; Two ships hit in Red Sea; Election deniers on Intel committee; And a bit more.

Ukraine’s military claims to have struck a stealth jet far inside Russia. The Su-57—one of just 16 in the Kremlin’s inventory—was parked at the Akhtubinsk air base more than 350 miles from the frontlines Saturday. If confirmed, it would be the first time that Russia’s most advanced aircraft has come under fire, the Associated Press reported Sunday from Kyiv. 

It’s difficult to tell what munition exactly was used in the apparent attack, but judging by before-and-after satellite imagery released by Ukraine, it seems more likely a small drone or drones, not a larger cruise missile or U.S.-provided ATACMS, according to Justin Bronk of the London-based Royal United Services Institute. Noted AP: the attack “would represent one of the higher-profile successes of [Ukrainian drones], alongside the destruction of a Russian Tu-22M3 bomber and damage caused to a Tu-95MS bomber.”

However, “the Su-57 looks to have avoided a serious fire from the strikes, which would likely have resulted in irreparable damage,” said Bronk. “So depending on the severity of the shrapnel damage it may well be repaired and returned to service.”

A separate Ukrainian missile attack allegedly hit Russian air defense systems in occupied Crimea, Kyiv’s military said Monday on social media. That includes “One S-400 division in the Dzhankoi area and two S-300 divisions near Chornomorske and Yevpatoria,” according to the Defense Ministry. 

“After the strikes, the immediate shutdown of the S-400/S-300 complex's radars was recorded,” Ukraine said, and added, “further detonation of ammunition was observed in all three areas.”

Update: An estimated 17,000 Russian prisoners died after being sent to the contested Ukrainian city of Bakhmut by the mercenary group Wagner between January 2022 to August 2023, according to a joint investigation by the BBC and Russian independent media outlet Mediazona, reporting Monday. At least 48,000 Russian prisoners were sent to Ukraine under the program devised by now-deceased Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin. 

“We are confident that these documents are genuine,” the reporters insist, and say, “We have checked them against our list of the dead, the register of inheritance cases, the chats of relatives of the Wagner family” and leaked police databases. Read the full story courtesy of Google Translate, here.

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1940, Fascist Italy declared war on the British and French, and launched Musolini's ultimately inconclusive, two-week-long invasion of southern France.

European elections latest: Rightward lurch? After early results Sunday led to news headlines about advances among a varied far-right ensemble of lawmakers in Europe’s parliament, more recent results show that a center faction (that is, centrists along with center-left and center-right groupings) won just over 400 seats in the latest round of voting. While that is 16 fewer centrists than won in 2019 elections, it’s “still well above the 361 needed for a majority,” according to analyst Nico FitzRoy of Signum Global Advisors. 

One notable takeaway: Instability could be on the rise in France and Germany. 

Another: “Immigration is top of mind,” analysts at the Institute for Global Affairs warned last week after curating survey results across more than 3,000 adults in the U.S., U.K., Germany and France. Indeed, “A majority of people in France think immigration has most affected their country’s national security in the past 20 years and that the impact has been negative,” IGA said Wednesday. “Germans follow a similar pattern — a plurality think immigration has most affected their country’s national security and a majority thinks that effect has been negative.” 

On general insecurity: In Germany, 84% said they think life has become more dangerous for them lately, and French respondents felt almost exactly the same (85% said they think their lives have become more dangerous).

But other recent elections have brought “surprisingly” pro-democratic results, says NPR’s global democracy correspondent Frank Langfit. “I've been talking to a bunch of analysts and they're more upbeat than I expected, you know, especially coming after so many years of decline,” he said on Saturday. Langfit pointed to India, where an election deprived Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party of their majority in Parliament, and South Africa, whose African National Congress lost its legislative majority after 30 years. More, here.

For the latest results, check out the BBC’s liveblog here

Israel rescued four hostages from Hamas, but killed more than 200 Palestinians in simultaneous air and ground assaults in Hamas-held Gaza, the Associated Press reported Saturday from the Gaza Strip. 

“Saturday’s operation brought the total number of rescued hostages to seven,” AP writes. Meanwhile, “International pressure is mounting on Israel to limit civilian bloodshed in its war in Gaza, which reached its eighth month on Friday with more than 36,700 Palestinians killed, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians.” 

Veteran stateside reax: “What we're seeing is neither normal nor acceptable in modern conflict,” said former U.S. soldier Brandon Friedman, writing Saturday on social media. He listed three recent U.S. hostage rescues and compared them with three recent Israeli military hostage rescue operations. The U.S. operations (from 2009, 2012, and 2020) resulted in no civilians killed. The Israeli operations, by contrast, have killed at least 276 civilians. 

“Also worth noting,” Friedman continued, “that the White House spokesman has repeatedly said the [Israeli military] is more careful around civilians than the U.S. military. Again, clearly false,” he said. “The reason successful, violent American hostage rescues take place in remote locations is because the U.S. doesn't force hostage rescues in densely populated areas precisely BECAUSE of the risk to civilians,” Friedman wrote. 

Related reading: 

New: The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen attacked two more commercial vessels transiting the waters off the country’s southern coast this weekend. 

Involved: Container ship M/V Tavvishi, which is a Swiss-owned and  Liberian-flagged vessel, and the German owned and operated M/V Norderney cargo ship. Both were hit with anti-ship ballistic missiles while moving through the Gulf of Aden, U.S. officials at Central Command said Sunday. 

Fortunately, no one was reportedly injured, and both vessels continued on to their destination, CENTCOM said. U.S. forces in the region also destroyed one aerial drone over the Gulf of Aden, as well as two Houthi land-attack cruise missiles and a missile launcher inside Yemen over the weekend, CENTCOM added. 

On Friday, U.S. forces in the region destroyed five Houthi aerial drones, two anti-ship ballistic missiles, and a Houthi patrol boat in the Red Sea. “It was determined these systems presented an imminent threat to U.S., coalition forces, and merchant vessels in the region,” CENTCOM said afterward. 

See more: Analysts at the Washington Institute are tracking all the Houthi maritime attacks in a perpetually updated, reverse chronological presentation you can review here.

Capitol Hill watch: Two election deniers were recently appointed to the House's Intelligence committee. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., filled two vacancies with Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Ronny Jackson of Texas, who both sought to overturn election results in 2021. The Guardian: “The appointments of Perry and Jackson to a committee that helps to shape US foreign policy and oversees intelligence agencies such as the FBI and the CIA has caused consternation on Capitol Hill. It also signals [Donald] Trump’s hostility to organisations that he has vowed to purge if he is re-elected.”

More: Perry’s “efforts to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election...led to his phone being confiscated by the FBI, an organisation he will now have a role in scrutinising.”And Johnson made the moves “apparently without consulting the body’s chair, Mike Turner,” who “has sought to restore the committee’s bipartisan character following years of bitter party infighting between Republicans and Democrats.” More, here.

Reminder: The Navy demoted Jackson from admiral to captain in retirement after an investigation found that he bullied subordinates and broke various rules. He continued to call himself an admiral for more than a year until the fact came to light.

And lastly: This afternoon, the Pentagon’s top nuclear and counter-proliferation policy chief Richard Johnson is set to speak about the U.S.-South Korean relationship at about 1:25 p.m. ET at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. That event starts at 1 p.m., and extends through 3 p.m. Details and livestream here.