The Cable

Situation Report: Russia Slams U.S. Missile Defense Sale to Japan

Saudi blockade of Yemen taking a toll, Turkey buys Russian military kit

Servicemen salute during the inauguration ceremony of the Aegis Ashore Romania facility on May 12, 2016. (Daniel Mihailescu /AFP/Getty Images)
Servicemen salute during the inauguration ceremony of the Aegis Ashore Romania facility on May 12, 2016. (Daniel Mihailescu /AFP/Getty Images)


By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley

Treaty violations? Moscow and Washington continue to accuse one another of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which was reached between the two countries 30 years ago. The latest flare-up is Moscow’s objection to the recently announced sale of two Aegis Ashore missile defense systems to Japan, which Russia says violates the pact.

A deal, finally? After months of back and forth, Turkish media is reporting that Turkish and Russian officials have signed a financing agreement for the purchase of the Russian-made S-400 anti-missile system worth $2.5 billion. The agreement has unsettled Turkey’s NATO allies, who are uneasy over Russian military equipment being placed in a NATO country.

SecNav packing heat in Helmand. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer was spotted carrying a sidearm while visiting troops in Afghanistan recently, the first for a civilian service secretary. His spokespeople say it was no big deal — he was offered the gun and accepted. But it says something that 16 years into the U.S. war there, government officials feel the need to arrive in secret (Vice President Mike Pence earlier this month), and arm themselves while on the ground.

Yemen. Reuters pays a visit to a hospital in Yemen, where diseases thought to have been eliminated — like diphtheria — are back, and are killing children. Thursday marked the 1,000th day of the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians. Saudi Arabia maintains a blockade of all sea, land, and air ports in the country, keeping desperately needed food and medicine out.

Dear Readers: SitRep is taking a hiatus and slimming down for the holidays. It will be back Jan. 8 in a new once-a-week format. Today is also the last day on duty for Adam and I. We wanted to thank everyone for reading, for the feedback, and for the sharp-eyed corrections and suggestions over the past two-plus years. We did our bleary-eyed best to bring you the news each morning, and sprinkle obscure movie and music references here and there to see if anyone caught them. You often did. While signing off, we also wanted to thank Gordon Lubold for starting SitRep as a daily newsletter way back when, and all of our colleagues who have dragged themselves out of bed before dawn on occasion to pitch in. It’s been a great ride!   

Welcome to SitRep. As always, thanks for reading, and please send any tips, thoughts or national security events to and always available on Twitter: @paulmcleary.

Curating Gitmo. What to do with the art created by a military prison full of aging al-Qaeda suspects? That’s the question the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is struggling with after Southern Command ordered it to craft a policy to either burn or archive the works but so far Gitmo officials aren’t saying what their game plan is for detainee art.

Calm in Ankara. U.S.-Turkish relations are thawing a bit as a diplomatic spat that developed following the arrest of a Turkish employee of the U.S. consulate. The U.S. stopped processing new visa applications from Turkey following the incident but the U.S. Mission in Turkey says visa service has returned to normal.  

Et tu, bromance? Trump has pronounced himself “very disappointed” in China in a tweet following the release of U.S. satellite imagery showing North Korean ships allegedly violating sanctions by trading oil at sea with Chinese ships.

Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen killed 109 civilians in a series of airstrikes carried out over the past 10 days, according to U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick.

Foreign fighters. U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria are holding an alleged French member of the Islamic State, according to French media outlets. Kurdish troops allegedly captured convert Thomas Barnouin, who had been arrested by Syrian troops in 2006 after trying to join the jihad in neighboring Iraq, in the northeastern city of Hasakah.


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