Russia Launches Major Missile Attacks in Ukraine


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Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at Russia’s biggest missile bombardment of Ukraine since February 2022, a Hamas delegation in Egypt, and China’s new defense minister.

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at Russia’s biggest missile bombardment of Ukraine since February 2022, a Hamas delegation in Egypt, and China’s new defense minister.

At least 30 people were killed and more than 160 people injured in Ukraine on Friday in what Kyiv called the biggest missile bombardment since Russia began its all-out invasion of the country in February 2022. Russia struck the cities of Kyiv, Odessa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Lviv using “nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal” and hit homes and a maternity hospital, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the BBC.

Ukraine’s air defenses were overwhelmed by the attacks, and an Air Force spokesperson said Kyiv had never seen so many types of missiles used at once. The United Nations humanitarian envoy for Ukraine, Denise Brown, said the attacks constituted “another unacceptable example of the horrifying reality” that Ukrainians face. U.S. President Joe Biden also condemned the attacks, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must be stopped.”

“The enemy is attacking our border territories, including in the west,” Yuriy Ihnat, spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force, said on national television. “This is another signal for our partners to strengthen the Ukrainian air defense.” Additional U.S. lethal and economic aid to Ukraine is still tied up in Congress. Republicans are demanding a deal on tougher U.S.-Mexico border security, including putting tougher asylum claims in place and boosting border enforcement, in exchange for aid to Ukraine.

Russia admitted earlier this week that Ukraine damaged one of this Black Sea warships. After Friday’s bombardment, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson simply said Moscow had hit “all the designated military targets.” But it wasn’t only Ukrainian air space that was involved: Poland has said that it believes a Russian missile entered Polish airspace for nearly three minutes before entering Ukraine. Polish President Andrzej Duda called an emergency security meeting; he later said there was “no threat at the moment.”

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with his Polish counterpart, Jacek Siewiera, on Friday to articulate “United States’ solidarity with Poland, our close NATO ally, as it deals with reports of a missile temporarily entering Polish airspace,” according to the White House. Sullivan also promised Poland technical assistance.

Hamas leaders attend talks in Egypt. A high-level Hamas delegation was in Egypt Friday for talks on how to bring the war in Gaza to an end. Egypt has reportedly put forth a three-stage plan involving a weeklong cease-fire, during which all remaining Israeli hostages would be released; then a week during which Hamas-held female Israeli soldiers would be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israel; and finally a month during which male Israeli soldiers would be released in exchange for Israeli withdrawal.

The plan also includes a Palestinian technocratic government. Hamas previously rejected the proposal, but an official from the delegation told Agence France-Presse on Friday that it would “give the response of the Palestinian factions, including several observations” on the proposal and that Hamas was looking for guarantees of complete Israeli withdrawal.

Also on Friday, the U.N. humanitarian office said an estimated 100,000 people had arrived in Rafah, a town on Gaza’s border with Egypt, as new Israeli campaigns reached the central Gaza city of Deir al-Balah. Israel’s military also bombed Khan Younis city. According to the Guardian, many Palestinians arriving in Rafah had been displaced more than once since the start of the war.

China names new defense minister. Dong Jun was announced as China’s new defense minister on Friday. Dong most recently served as the Chinese navy chief. He will now be the public representative of the military and conduct diplomacy on its behalf, but he will not command the country’s armed forces—a responsibility that rests with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Dong’s appointment comes two months after the previous defense minister, Li Shangfu, lost the job without public explanation. It also comes days after three senior aerospace defense executives were taken off a top Chinese Communist Party advisory body, a move believed to be related to an anti-corruption campaign that may have ultimately been Li’s undoing.

Li, who has not been seen in public since late August, is widely assumed to be under investigation for corruption related to military equipment procurement. He was also a state counselor and a member of the central military commission; Dong was not tapped to fill either role.

Iranian uranium enrichment condemned. On Thursday, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States condemned Iran’s increase in its production rate of highly enriched uranium. “The production of high-enriched uranium by Iran has no credible civilian justification,” the countries’ joint statement said. “These decisions … represent reckless behavior in a tense regional context.”

The uranium is up to 60 percent purity—close to what is needed for nuclear weapon fuel. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are all still parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 agreement intended to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018.

The joint statement comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report that Iran’s month-long production slowdown had reversed. Iran said the report was “nothing new” and its program was being run “according to the rules.” Iran insists it is not seeking nuclear weapons.

In Argentina, horse cloning has transformed the sport of polo. As the Washington Post put it, “What began as an effort to immortalize those champions has now become a massive, multimillion-dollar industry.” New Argentinian President Javier Milei recently appointed a cloning expert to lead the country’s top science agency. The possible rewards and risks of cloning are not yet fully understood. Milei owns five clones of his own—of his late dog.

Russia Launches Major Missile Attacks in Ukraine

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