Today’s D Brief: Putin’s Wartime Recruitment Grows; Voting for “dummy” annexation began; Jet Ski Robots for the Pentagon; ISIS attack thwarted; And a little more.

What a desperate enlistment looks like this: Russian officials are plucking much-needed men, both young and old, from among the common people who travel airplanespassing by stationsand participation protests in countless cities and villages throughout the country — from Dagestan in the southwest, to Karbadina-Balkaria north of Georgia; from Dalnerechansk in the Far East, up to Pdl Arctic villages near Yakutsk. Some are so intoxicated by the experience that they apparently fell asleep on a blade of grass next to the runway of their plane.

At least five Russian airlines and ten different airports have reportedly been ordered to assist to facilitate the movement of personnel to Moscow’s military assembly line, reports the Latvian independent news site Medusawith reference to a Russian newspaper Merchant. “A source close to the Aeroflot group suggested that the mobilization will affect more than half of the company’s staff, as well as Peremogi and Rossiya, which are part of the same group,” writes Meduza.

It is developing: on the Russian-Georgian border there is a traffic queue of “several tens of kilometers” with passengers allegedly escaped from Putin’s mobilization. (The lines weren’t as long on Thursday.)

Using the last seven months of the invasion as a guide, Analysts from the Institute for the Study of War expect Putin to “mobilize ethnically non-Russian and immigrant communities at a disproportionately high speed.” wrote in their assessment Thursday night. Meanwhile, “the Kremlin’s hardline approach to partial mobilization may successfully meet the Kremlin’s domestic quota of mobilized personnel, but is unlikely to produce effective soldiers and provokes significant domestic backlash for little gain.”

The bigger picture: “Reality is starting to set in” for many ordinary Russians, the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg reported from Moscow in a two-and-a-half-minute video posted on Thursday. “The war left television and reached the big cities. This is a big change,” said another Russian Wall Street Journal Thursday in Moscow. (It’s worth noting that none of the reporters seem to be seeing popular sentiment simmering to the point of significantly threatening any real aspect of Putin’s mobilization yet.)

Message from Kiev: “For six months, 55,000 Russian soldiers died in this war. “Tens of thousands are injured and maimed,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said said Thursday. “Do you want more? No? Then protest. Fight back. Run away. Or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. These are your options for survival.”

The coverage continues below…

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Welcome to Friday’s edition of The D Brief, brought you Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do so now here. And check out the others Defense alone newsletters here. On this day in 1779 Scottish-American sea captain John Paul Jones led a combined American-French squadron in a a fight with the British Royal Navy known as Battle of Flamborough Headwhich some historians refer to as the battle “where the continental fleet got its sea legs.”

Today, Russia and its subordinate forces began hastily voting in the referendum for the parts of Ukraine that Vladimir Putin wants to annex before a counteroffensive threatens the occupied territory. Voting takes place in Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east, as well as in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, which hug the Black and Azov seas, in the south. Watch this part of the process unfold through this a two-minute video reportedly from Donetsk on Friday.

  • On the map: see where today in Ukraine Putin is trying to annex in an illustration from the Agence France-Presse graphics group, published on Friday. For more on the AFP report, here.

If you doubt Russia’s intentions with these “voices” on the occupied Ukrainian land, The press secretary of the Kremlin Dmitriy Piaskov explained this on Friday, saying that the state TASS“Russia will consider Ukraine’s attempts to return the Donbass and other territories as attacks on its lands if the referendums held there give a positive result.”
Echoes from Stalin’s history: “Baltic countries experienced something similar [referendum and annexation] tactics in 1940,” when the Soviet military occupied these countries of Eastern Europe, historian Roger Moorhouse tweeted Friday, an excerpt from his own book, “The Devil’s Alliance: Hitler’s Pact with Stalin, 1939-1941..”
On that note: “The last mobilization by the Kremlin was in 1941,” — Dmitriy Alpyarovich tweeted Thursday evening. “The future of Putin’s power is now at risk,” he said, adding: “This is not the end, but it could be the beginning of the end.”
What the president of Ukraine wants: tanks. “For us, tanks today are the salvation of our people,” President Uladzimir Zelensky said said Thursday. Then he promised: “We will win this war even without your tanks; but I want you to understand that we are fighting for common values, and I would like this to be our common victory.”
Several members of Congress want the Pentagon to send MQ-1C Gray Eagle or MQ-9A Reaper drones to Ukraine. according to the letter reviewed by Art Wall Street Journal Thursday. Seventeen US lawmakers signed the letter, which was sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday. To date, the White House has been reluctant to pursue this path of support for Kiev for fear that the plane could be shot down and recovered, which could reveal sensitive information.
On the battlefield, Ukrainian troops are attacking the territory occupied by Russia for four months. in accordance with the last one public account of British military intelligence. It was the town of Liman in southern Donetsk, east of the Seversky Donets River, which Russia captured in May. “The situation on the battlefield remains difficult,” say the British, “but Ukraine is now putting pressure on territory that Russia considers important to achieving its military goals.”
Related reading:

US military says it killed 27 al-Shabaab militants in one airstrike in Somalia on Sunday. Several US-backed forces, including elements of the African Union, have been operating in the central Hiran region in what US military is called the largest combined operation in five years.
Location: Buulobarde, about 80 miles north of the capital. Al-Shabaab militants have reportedly attacked elements of the Somali National Army, threatening a wider deployment of Somali forces and the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia, according to the US Africa Command. How stated so many times before the US military has stated that they did not kill civilians and that all those killed in the airstrike were militants. more here.
ISIS fighters have reportedly foiled a series of deadly attacks in northeastern Syria, next to the Al-Hol refugee camp for displaced persons. The potential attacks are believed to have begun to unravel just after midnight, early Tuesday morning, when seven ISIS fighters in two vehicles drove up to a checkpoint run by fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
“One vehicle rigged with explosives and personnel wearing explosive vests detonated prematurely near the village of Umm Faqiq, approximately 12 miles northeast of the intended target in al-Khol,” US Army Col. Joe Buchina said in a statement on behalf of US Central Command. “This explosion alerted the Syrian Democratic Forces operating in the area, who then arrived within minutes and surrounded the second vehicle,” Bouchina said.
In the second car were two men wearing death vests, one exploded after exiting, and the other was shot before he could set off the explosives, CENTCOM said. “One ISIS fighter is now in the custody of the Syrian Democratic Forces. Four ISIS fighters were killed in action,” Buccino said. more here.

Don’t forget register for the next event in our State of Defense interview series, which resumes next Tuesday with Air Force Gen. Charles K. Brown Jr. It starts at 2:00 PM ET; view the full agenda, here.

Have a safe weekend everyone. And see you again on Monday! Today’s D Brief: Putin’s Wartime Recruitment Grows; Voting for “dummy” annexation began; Jet Ski Robots for the Pentagon; ISIS attack thwarted; And a little more.

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