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Today’s PDB includes a variety of critical national security issues.
READ TODAY’S EXTENDED ‘RUSSIA THREAT’ PDB BELOW:
Taiwan adds minelaying ships to defenses against China. Taiwan on Friday commissioned new naval minelayers to add to its defenses against rival China.
LOL – JOKE OF THE DAY – China won’t ‘bully’ neighbors over South China Sea, foreign minister says. China will not use its strength to “bully” its smaller neighbors including the Philippines, its foreign minister said on Monday, as he highlighted the importance of settling disputes in the South China Sea peacefully.
Russia Threat – Ukraine
Russia thins out its embassy in Ukraine, a possible clue to Putin’s next move. The slow evacuation may be part propaganda, part preparation for a conflict or part feint, Ukrainian and U.S. officials say. It could be all three.
Russia prepping ‘false flag’ pretext for Ukraine invasion: US officials. Russia is also laying the groundwork through a social media disinformation campaign by framing Ukraine as an aggressor, U.S. officials say.
Russia denies US claim it seeks ‘false flag’ pretext to invade Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the U.S. claim about a “false flag” pretext for invasion as “total disinformation.”
UK gives Ukraine anti-tank weapons as Canada sends special forces. The United Kingdom has begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons and Canada has reportedly deployed a small contingent of special forces to Kyiv amid concerns of a possible invasion by Russia.
Even if Putin doesn’t seize all of Ukraine, he has a larger strategy. The US needs one, too. To deter Moscow, the United States and other NATO members have threatened significant economic sanctions. Whether this will suffice is unclear.
Russian forces arrive in Belarus for joint military drills. Russian military forces and hardware began arriving in ex-Soviet Belarus for joint drills starting in February, Minsk said on Monday, amid soaring tensions between East and West over Ukraine.
Swedes step up military contingency over Russian activity. A top military chief in Sweden said Friday that there is increased Russian activity in the Baltic Sea which “deviates from the normal picture,” leading the Scandinavian nation’s military to raise its preparedness.
North Korea Threat
N Korea fires short-range missiles in 4th launch this year. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the missiles did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to its allies.
BIDEN WEAKNESS ON IRAN – As Biden relaxed pressure, Iran took advantage. Supporters of the JCPOA are unconvincing in blaming Iranian nuclear expansion on withdrawal from the 2015 deal.
US 5th Fleet commander: ‘Dramatic uptick’ in Iran’s drone use. Over the past few years, Iran has “significantly” increased its use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet Commander said today.
US condemns deadly Houthi drone attack on UAE oil facility near Al-Dhafra. “U.S. forces are ready and available to assist and support their Emirati partners if requested,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Clark, the Al-Dhafra Air Base commander for American forces.
US troop level reduction in Middle East likely as focus shifts elsewhere. The U.S. military is likely to reduce the number of troops it keeps in the Middle East and Central Asia while remaining engaged in those regions to counter Iran and extremist threats, multiple analysts and a former head of Central Command said.
FOREIGN TERROR ATTACK – Terrorist Synagogue hostage taker demanded release of jailed Pakistani woman terrorist. Malik Faisal Akram was heard demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan.
Biden’s Afghan Disaster
UN: Taliban attempting to exclude women, girls from public life. Taliban leaders in Afghanistan are institutionalizing large-scale and systematic gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls, a group of 36 UN human rights experts have said.
END of PDB