Strategic SitRep 9/11-9-18

Ukraine Strikes Crimea, Canadian Aid Package, Kim Jong Un Bolsters Russian Army.

Issue # 17

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Returns from Russia Amid Fears of Weapons Transfer

North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, wrapped up a six-day visit to Russia amid international anxieties over potential arms transfer agreements between Russia and North Korea. Both nations currently face separate tensions with the West.

On Sunday, Kim departed Russia aboard his armored train from a railway station in Artyom, a city located about 124 miles from the North Korean border. High-ranking Russian officials, including Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources Alexander Kozlov and Primorye regional Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako, attended the farewell event which featured military band performances of both countries' national anthems.

This visit marked Kim's most extended foreign travel since he ascended to power in 2011. He is anticipated to reach Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, by Monday afternoon.

Over the course of his trip, Kim met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and toured significant military and technology locations. These visits underscore the strengthening defense ties between the two countries, especially against the backdrop of heightened confrontations with the U.S. and its allies. There are speculations that North Korea might supply Moscow with munitions for its war on Ukraine, in exchange for advanced Russian weapons technology to bolster North Korea's nuclear program.

Despite the age and questionable accuracy of North Korea's artillery, the country possesses vast amounts of Soviet-designed artillery shells and rockets that could be beneficial to Russian forces engaged in the Ukrainian conflict. Such cooperation could violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that Russia previously endorsed. These resolutions prohibit North Korea from any arms exports or imports.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed strong disapproval of the potential military alliance between Russia and North Korea. He emphasized that such actions would further unite the international community against these moves.

As part of the potential deal, North Korea might not only seek economic assistance and food aid from Russia but also the transfer of technologies to develop advanced missiles, a nuclear-powered submarine, and reconnaissance satellites.

During his stay in Russia, Kim also indulged in lighter activities, touring a university and enjoying a marine show at a Russian aquarium. Furthermore, a Russian delegation from the country's Far East is slated to visit North Korea, although exact dates remain undisclosed.

Kim also inspected Russian warplanes and military hardware, which have been actively used in the Ukrainian conflict. His discussions with Russian officials focused on the regional security environment and possible ways to enhance military cooperation between both nations.

Kim's meeting with Putin was held at Russia's primary space launch site, hinting at North Korea's aspirations for Russian support in space technology and missile development. Kim extended "full and unconditional support" for Russia's actions in Ukraine during this meeting and invited Putin for a reciprocal visit to North Korea.

So what does this mean?

Kim Jong Un's extensive visit to Russia amid global tensions showcases the evolving and deepening alliance between North Korea and Russia. The potential arms transfer discussions underscore the challenges the West faces in ensuring regional and global stability. This visit might pave the way for stronger defense ties between the two nations, potentially challenging international resolutions and further complicating the geopolitical landscape.

Ukrainian Drones Target Crimea and Moscow in Counteroffensive Against Russia

Russia has claimed it thwarted several attacks by Ukrainian drones targeting Crimea and Moscow, signaling a shift in the war's dynamics. As Ukraine escalates its counteroffensive against Russian forces, it has intensified its strikes, particularly focusing on the annexed region of Crimea.

The Russian defense ministry reported on Sunday that its air defense apparatus successfully shot down at least six drones that had aimed at Crimea. Reuters confirmed this assertion.

Beyond Crimea, Moscow, Russia's capital, faced threats from Ukrainian drones. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin stated that two such drones were intercepted and destroyed near the city. In his update on Telegram, Sobyanin assured that the fallen drones in the Istra district had caused neither casualties nor significant destruction. He further reported another attempted drone attack in the Ramensky district within Moscow's vicinity.

As a direct result of these drone-related threats, air travel experienced disruptions. Russian state-run media disclosed that approximately 24 flights faced delays at Moscow-region airports.

On the same day, further south in Russia, an oil depot was purportedly targeted by a Ukrainian drone. This report came from Andrei Klychkov, the governor of the Oryol region, who was quick to emphasize that there were no casualties and that emergency services were on the scene.

Another drone incident was highlighted by Aleksandr Gusev, the Governor of the Voronezh region. He indicated on Telegram that his region too had successfully taken down a drone, ensuring there were neither casualties nor property damage.

So what does this mean?

The recent series of drone attacks against Russian targets, both in Crimea and deeper inside Russian territory, underline Ukraine's evolving offensive capabilities and determination to push back against Russian aggression. The targeting of key infrastructure like Moscow and oil depots suggests a strategic shift, indicating that the conflict is entering a new phase. It also highlights the vulnerabilities in even the most fortified regions, as unmanned aerial vehicles become a critical tool in modern warfare.

Canada Pledges C$33 Million for Ukrainian Air Defense Equipment as Part of British-led Partnership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (right) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv on June 10

Canada is set to contribute C$33 million, equivalent to roughly $24.5 million, to a partnership spearheaded by Britain. This coalition is dedicated to procuring air defense equipment for Ukraine, a move designed to bolster the nation's defenses against Russian missile and drone strikes. Bill Blair, the Defence Minister, announced Canada's commitment on Sunday.

Detailing Canada's involvement, Blair highlighted that this funding is a segment of the C$500 million in military aid earmarked for Kyiv, which was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June.

Canada, which boasts one of the world's most significant Ukrainian diaspora populations, remains a staunch advocate for Kyiv. In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ottawa's aid commitments to Ukraine have surpassed C$8 billion. Of this total, approximately C$1.8 billion has been designated for military support.

This multinational collaboration, besides Canada and Britain, also sees involvement from the United States, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The primary objective of this partnership is to acquire several hundred short- to medium-range air defense missiles and related systems.

So what does this mean?

Canada's latest financial commitment underlines its continued support and solidarity with Ukraine, especially in the backdrop of ongoing hostilities with Russia. By joining a multinational partnership focused on bolstering Ukraine's air defenses, Canada is not only reinforcing its position on the global stage but also emphasizing the importance of collective international efforts in maintaining regional stability. The inclusion of major nations in this initiative also showcases the widening international stance against Russian aggression.