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08 Apr 14. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) budget allocated to Afghanistan for the 2014/15 financial year is £62.27m, which includes the conflict pool allocation. (Written Answer (WA), 7 Apr 14.) Defence Equipment and Support is currently seeking proposals from Industry to provide an air transport service to move cargo between the UK and Afghanistan in support of OP HERRICK. (WA, 8 Apr 14.) [Despite the way this Answer is phrased, the enquiry concerned the return of “British military equipment from Afghanistan” (rather than to Afghanistan).] There have been no discussions with the Government of Afghanistan about the future basing of UK unmanned aircraft systems in Afghanistan after 2014. (WA, 9 Apr 14.) Two RAF Tornado GR4 scattered insurgents who were attempting to plant a roadside bomb ahead of an ISAF convoy. The ISAF troops captured and destroyed a lethal quantity of explosives. (MoD, 10 Apr 14.) As the drawdown in Afghanistan continues, RAF communications personnel have started to dismantle elements of a comprehensive communications network built up over the past decade. (RAF, 11 Apr 14.) Comment: The incident reported by the MoD on 10 Apr 14 was also the subject of an 83 Expeditionary Air Group Media Release the day after. The latter source makes it clear that the insurgents were scattered on 10 Mar 14 and thus this ‘news’ was a month old!
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/16, 14 Apr 14)
07 Apr 14. Ukraine: Russian Involvement. The Government of Ukraine has stated that it has no plans to change its non-nuclear status and will continue to comply with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. (WA, 7 Apr 14.) The Foreign Secretary answered questions on Ukraine in the House of Commons. (Hansard, 8 Apr 14, Column 101.) In a subsequent statement, the Foreign Secretary said that the Government is “gravely concerned about the situation in Crimea and in the East of Ukraine”. The Foreign Secretary warned Russia of “serious political and economic consequences” following “deliberate escalation” of the crisis to destabilise Ukraine. (WA, 9 Apr 14.) SHAPE released a package of satellite imagery showing the location and type of Russian units NATO has observed along the border with Ukraine. (SHAPE, 10 Apr 14.) The UK will be sending 90 short-term observers to join the 10 long-term observers already in Ukraine for the May 2014 Presidential elections. (WA, 10 Apr 14.) SHAPE defended the accuracy of the images released on the previous day (following Russian allegations about the authenticity of the images). (SHAPE, 11 Apr 14.) The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) reiterated its advice against all travel to Crimea and all but essential travel to the Eastern Regions. Ukrainian International Airlines have cancelled all flights to and from Simferopol until 29 Apr 14. (FCO, 11 Apr 14.)
Comment: On 11 Apr 14, NATO issued a comprehensive fact sheet entitled “Russia’s accusations – setting the record straight”. NATO has now suspended all practical co-operation with Russia. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/16, 14 Apr 14)
09 Apr 14. Missing Aircraft: Still Searching. The MoD confirmed (9 Apr 14) that HMS ECHO has been diverted from her patrol in the Indian Ocean and that HMS TIRELESS has also been re-tasked to assist with the search for Flight MH370. HMS ECHO is searching an area 1,000 miles North-West of Perth, along with Chinese vessels Haixun and Dong Hai Jiu. (Sensors from one of the Chinese vessels picked up a possible signal on 5 Apr 14.) HMS ECHO’s sonar has been adapted to enable it to pick-up any transmissions on the black box flight recorder’s frequency.
Comment: Hopes were raised (10