Posted by BW Actual on May 18th 2023
BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF
- Russia arrested three scientists working on hypersonic missile technology at a facility in Siberia, citing "very serious accusations" (in the Kremlin's words) of treason.
- Other Russian scientists published an open letter decrying the arrests and warning that Russian weapons science could "collapse" because of the fear that such a witch hunt would spread among the scientific community in Russia.
- Analysts believe the arrests stemmed out of Russia's embarrassment that Ukraine was able to intercept six of the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles the Kremlin believed to be unstoppable: perhaps the accused scientists divulged sensitive information that Ukraine exploited to stop the missiles, or perhaps they're being scapegoated for a vulnerability Ukraine chanced upon another way.
- Separately, a Kyrgyz court sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for fighting for Russia's Wagner Group in Ukraine. That example could dissuade other ex-Soviet central Asian recruits from accepting the lucrative offers Wagner is dangling before them.
- Russia launched another wave of missile attacks on Kyiv - perhaps testing whether U.S. and Ukrainian claims that the Patriot system that was damaged in the previous barrage was still fully operational. It seems it was: Ukraine claims it intercepted 29 of 30 missiles this time.
- Ukraine and Russia agreed to extend the Black Sea grain deal for another two months before it expired today. Russia has been holding the deal hostage in hopes that it can trade last-minute renewals for other concessions: each renewal has been for a shorter term, and this one only gives the deal two more months. For context, it took almost four months to negotiate the original deal.
- The governor of Montana signed a bill banning all use of TikTok in the state starting Jan. 1, 2024. TikTok has already been rallying its users to protest against a ban and will certainly fight it in court; besides, U.S. states don't have individual app stores or enforceable geofencing, so I don't see how a single state's ban could possibly be enforced.
- Former UK PM Liz Truss - who lasted as many days as PM as David Blaine did living in a glass box over the Thames (44) - became the first ex-UK PM to visit Taiwan, and then followed up by lobbying current PM Sunak to declare China a national security threat. China's embassy in the UK called her visit a "dangerous political stunt."
- A Chinese comedian who said his dogs reminded him of the People's Liberation Army during a set on Saturday was investigated and fined 14.7 million yuan ($2.1 million) for "humiliating" the military and "causing very bad social effects." It's no laughing matter for Beijing: regulators ordered all Chinese comedians to "correct their creative thinking."
- North Korea seems to be preparing to launch its first spy satellite - likely from a launch pad that's being built quickly at Sohae.
- State media published photos of Kim Jong Un inspecting the site with his daughter, which must have been quite an exciting "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" for her.
- Guyana's Pres. Ali opened a new Guyanese embassy in Qatar at the end of his state visit there. Qatar is offering Guyana help developing its nascent offshore oil industry, and Guyana seems to welcome the partnership.
- Ecuador's Pres. Lasso dissolved the opposition-led parliament that was about to oust him. Lasso is a pro-business conservative and his liberal opponents took issue with him for failing to stop a deal that they think favors a private tanker company over the state-owned analogue.