18 Dec 15. EU envoys agree extension of Russia sanctions until mid-2016.
European Union envoys on Friday agreed a six-month rollover of the bloc’s economic sanctions on Russia, diplomats said, extending the measures on energy, banking and defence sectors until the end of July 2016. The decision will become final at midday (1100 GMT) on Monday unless any member state changes its position and raises an objection in writing. (Source: Reuters)
18 Dec 15. Poland raids NATO office in Warsaw. Poland has replaced the head of a NATO-affiliated facility in Warsaw during a midnight raid by defence ministry officials and military police on its office, in the latest move by the country’s new government to take control of state agencies.
Defence personnel entered NATO’s Counter Intelligence Center of Excellence in central Warsaw at 1:30am, to remove officials that were not supported by the new administration and appoint a new head, reports Henry Foy in Warsaw.
“This is about guaranteeing the normal functioning of state institutions, which unfortunately do not always function properly,” deputy defence minister Bartosz Kownacki told RMF radio. “Really it was difficult to determine whether there are actually competent people… the previous management.”
“The ministry of defence has the right to use all units that are under its sovereignty, including the Military Police,” Mr Kownacki added.
The dramatic raid and management change, which was denounced by the previous head of the facility and by opposition politicians, is the latest move by the new right-wing nationalist Law and Justice party to consolidate its power in Poland by packing government agencies, security services, state-owned businesses and the judiciary with party loyalists.
Warsaw will host the biannual NATO summit next July, with Poland and other eastern European states keen for the alliance to offer more support to their defence capabilities in the face of a resurgent Russia.
A spokesman for the defence ministry said the previous head of the facility, which produces intelligence and research reports for NATO central command, had not responded to an order calling for his dismissal sent last week.
It was not immediately clear how the military personnel gained access to the building. The spokesman said the raid was “peaceful”.
The facility, which is jointly funded and run by Slovak and Polish authorities, was set up in September and is in the process of being accredited by NATO.
A NATO official at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels said the raid was “an issue for the Polish authorities,” that they were monitoring the situation
Former defence minister and senior opposition party MP Tomasz Siemoniak said the raid was “unprecedented. “This is probably the first time in NATO’s history that an alliance member has attacked a NATO facility,” he added.
18 Dec 15. 131 Boxer vehicles for the Bundeswehr – reinforcement for the troops By order of the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), the OCCAR organization for joint armament cooperation has commissioned Artec GmbH to provide the German Bundeswehr with 131 high-protection vehicles of Boxer type. Artec, a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, is due to deliver the Boxer vehicles in their Group Transport version between 2017 and 2020. The total order is worth EUR 476m. Production will be carried out by Artec’s two parent companies: 95 vehicles will be manufactured by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and 36 by Rheinmetall. The Bundeswehr has already contracted for 272 Boxer vehicles in various models. Practical experience in Afghanistan has shown that the Boxer makes a significant contribution to the endurance and mobility of infantry troops, and positive experience with the GTK Boxer was one of the decisive factors for awarding the present project. Globally, the Boxer is one of the best-protected 8×8 wheeled vehicles. It offers crews m