10 million Ukrainians went to sleep without any electricity last night, President Volodymir Zelenskyy said in his evening address Thursday, which marked 38 weeks that Russia has been trying to invade its democratic neighbor. Ten million people without power amounts to nearly a quarter of the country’s prewar population of 44 million; and it follows another day of missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, including six missiles (out of an alleged 27, including 25 cruise missiles) and five drones (out of five Shahed-136s) Kyiv said its forces shot down earlier in the day.
“In Dnipro, dozens of people were injured as a result of a missile attack,” Zelenskyy said Thursday night. Meanwhile, Russian forces continue “to equip defensive lines on the left bank of the Dnieper,” near Kherson City, the president said.
Are Russian missile stockpiles dwindling enough to make a difference yet? Apparently not, since Moscow launched its largest barrage to date on Tuesday. So Lara Jakes of the New York Times asked a few experts their opinion on that question above, and filed those answers in this report, published Friday morning.
Nearly half of the parts that make up Iran’s deadly drones are made in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday off findings from the Kyiv-based Independent Anti-Corruption Commission, or NAKO. Additionally, “besides Western components, there is also evidence that Chinese companies might be supplying Iran with copies of Western commodities to produce the combat drones,” the Journal writes. And all of those findings add new pressure to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which oversees export control enforcement for the U.S. Read on, here.
And Russia is purportedly testing a new “kamikaze” drone designed to resemble the U.S.-made Switchblade. Sam Bendett of CNA Corp. flagged the development on Twitter, along with a 29-second demonstration video. See that over here.
Across Ukraine’s south and east, Russia’s occupying troops “have constructed new trench systems near the border of Crimea, as well as near the Seversky-Donets River between Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts,” the British military said Friday. “Some of these locations are up to 60 km behind the current front line, suggesting that Russian planners are making preparations in case of further major Ukrainian breakthroughs.” Next, the Brits expect “Russia will attempt to eventually [redeploy] some of the forces recovered from Kherson to reinforce and expand its offensive operations near the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.”
Also: The British are significantly ramping up their artillery production, The Telegraph reported earlier this week. That order has been sent to BAE Systems; the Brits have already routed some 16,000 artillery shells to Ukraine since February.
And there could be 1,500 more jobs coming to the UK’s shipbuiding ops around Belfast, the British Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday. Three new ships are planned, and the idea is “to create one of the most advanced yards in the UK, significant for future export and domestic shipbuilding and offshore opportunities,” the MoD said. Details, here.
New: Slovakia has sent another howitzer to Ukraine’s military, which makes Bratislava’s seventh such piece of artillery to date, according to Kyiv’s armed forces.
Canada just sent a team of military engineers to train Ukrainians in Poland, as promised back in October. Ottawa’s troops plan to teach “reconnaissance, the use of explosives for demolition work, and demining,” Ukraine’s military said Friday.
In case you’re wondering: “There are approximately 10,000 U.S. military personnel currently serving in Poland,” the Pentagon said Thursday; but only “about 140 of those [are] permanently assigned” there. The remaining 9,800 are “rotational,” temporary forces.
Developing: Far-right House Republicans say they’re introducing a bill to audit congressional funding to Ukraine, and all communications related to helping Ukraine defend itself against the invading Russian military. The bill is led by conspiracy theorist and Georgia firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who lost her committee assignments in 2021 over her extreme and often racist opinions expressed on social media, as NPR and AP reported at the time.
“It’s not yet clear which House panel will consider the resolution,” The Hill reported Thursday, and noted that, “Democrats are likely to vote it down to prevent it from going to the House floor.” But Greene said Thursday she’s undeterred by that short-term prospect. “I’ll introduce this resolution again,” she said to reporters in Washington. “We voted ‘no’ to send money over there [in the spring], but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine,” she promised.
The bill’s co-sponsors include Reps. Matt Gaetz and Cory Mills of Florida; Barry Moore of Alabama; Andrew Clyde from Georgia; and Kentucky’s Thomas Massie—all of whom (except the newly-elected Mills) were among the 57 House Republicans who voted against the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill in May. (For some perspective, 156 other Republicans voted in support of that aid package.)
- “Nord Stream leaks confirmed as sabotage, Sweden says,” Reuters reports from Stockholm;
- “Where’s Putin? Leader leaves bad news on Ukraine to others,” the Associated Press reported Friday;
- Calm down, “Ukraine Won’t Ignite a Nuclear Scramble,” three wonks argue in Foreign Affairs this week;
- Don’t miss “The Case Against Negotiations with Russia,” by Fred Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War;
- “Russia Sanctions Disrupting Putin’s Military Efforts, Treasury Official Says,” the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday;
- “Gentle Ukrainian Film Critic Is Drafted Into Vicious Real-Life War Movie,” via the New York Times, reporting Friday from Ukraine;
- “John Mearsheimer on Putin’s Ambitions After Nine Months of War,” via The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, who had quite a time sparring with the 74-year-old Mearsheimer over the latter’s recent hush-hush visit with Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban;
- “Europe is too dependent on China for technologies, Finland’s PM says,” Reuters reported Thursday from Helsinki;
- “High energy prices lead to coal revival in Czech Republic,” AP reported Thursday;
- And “White House announces $13 bln in funding to modernize power grids,” Reuters reported Thursday from Washington.
From Defense One
Could Ukraine Retake Crimea? Not Easily // Patrick Tucker, Elizabeth Howe, and Caitlin M. Kenney: Difficult approaches and dug-in Russian forces would likely mean a long and difficult effort, experts said.
Boeing Defense to Cut Execs, Consolidate Divisions // Marcus Weisgerber: The reorganization is part of a wider culture change pushed by the business unit’s new CEO.
Ban These Chinese Chipmakers from Pentagon Purchases // Maseh Zarif and Mark Montgomery: Congress should pass a proposed expansion of the law that keeps the federal government from buying certain companies’ products.
Army Preps for ‘Contested Logistics,’ Works to Boost Arms Production // Elizabeth Howe: Logistics win wars—but not if new enemy capabilities can disrupt supply lines.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad and Libby Howe. 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 1918, Latvia declared its independence from Russia.
Future of the Army in limbo? U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth spoke a bit about her service’s daunting recruitment problems and possible solutions during an hourlong “virtual fireside chat” hosted by the Center for a New American Security.
Latest from Wormuth: The service’s Future Soldier Prep Course is succeeding and there’s more interest in the program than there is space at Fort Jackson, Wormuth said at CNAS. More than 90 percent of recruits who go through the academic portion of the program are successfully increasing their ASVAB scores to go on to Basic Training, she said. And once they get there, recruits who went through FSPC are surpassing their peers. The pilot program was first announced in August as a way to ease the Army’s recruiting struggles. Read more about that program from back in August here, or from July, here.
North Korea launched yet another intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, and this one landed just 130 miles from Japan, Reuters reported from Seoul and Tokyo.
The ICBM had “sufficient range to reach” the continental United States, according to Japanese officials, who have also warned of more test launches and a possible nuclear test to come. South Korean and Japanese officials estimate the missile flew around 3,600 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 620 miles, but one expert believes it was the Hwasong-17, which can carry up to five nuclear warheads and fly as far as 9,320 miles, AP reported.
- See how the test altitude and estimated range measures up with other recent North Korean missile launches, via this infographic by AFP.
The White House called it “a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions [that] needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region.”
Notably, the National Security Council added, “The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement.” However, the White House warned in its NSC statement, “The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.”
Reaction: See two new clips of South Korea’s military practicing precision-bombing runs on Friday. One video shows an F-35A bombing a simulated enemy target; the other video shows U.S. F-16s and ROK F-35s flying together in a show of force.
Meanwhile in the Middle East, U.S. and international troops in Syria were attacked with rockets at about 9:30 p.m. local time Thursday in eastern Syria. “The attack resulted in no injuries or damage to the base or coalition property,” U.S. Central Command officials said in a short statement afterward.
ICYMI: An “Iranian-made” drone attacked a commercial oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Tuesday, CENTCOM officials said the following day. Fortunately no one was injured, though there was some destruction to the ship. “Exploitation of the debris that hit the vessel reveals that it was a Shahed-series one-way attack drone,” CENTCOM said. The British Navy helped the U.S. respond to the attack.
According to the White House, “We are confident that Iran likely conducted this attack using a UAV, a lethal capability it is increasingly employing directly and via its proxies throughout the Middle East and proliferating to Russia for use in Ukraine,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “We will work with partners and allies, including as part of the International Maritime Security Construct, to hold Iran accountable and respond through appropriate means,” he added.
From the region: Israel says it has a new kind of Iron Dome missile defense variant. Check that promo video out on Twitter, here.
That’s it from us today. Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!