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10 Sep 21. All-out war with Russia ‘is a possibility’ Ukraine warns as Putin and Belarus alarm NATO with huge war games featuring 200,000 troops, months after military build-up on Ukraine’s borders.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made the comments at a summit on Friday
- ‘It’s the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is that possibility,’ he said of war against Russia
- Kyiv says the conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed 14,000 people since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea
- Zelenskiy’s comments came a day after Russia, Belarus and other states began huge military exercises
- The huge military drills will involve 200,000 soldiers, at least 80 aircraft, more than 300 tanks and 15 ships
- Officials have said the exercises do not envisage specific nations as adversaries but should be ‘signal’ to West
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that all-out war with neighbouring Russia was a possibility, and that he wanted to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the mounting tensions between the nations.
Their torrid relationship took a turn for the worse earlier this year when fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified and Russia massed more troops near the border, seven years after Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula and backed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
When asked at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) summit if there could really be all out-war with Russia, Zelenskiy said: ‘I think there can be.’
‘It’s the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is that possibility,’ he added, speaking in Ukrainian.
Kyiv says the conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed 14,000 people since 2014.
Meanwhile, Russia and Belarus have alarmed NATO with huge war games and military exercises featuring 200,000 troops, which comes mere months after the aforementioned increase of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border.
At the YES summit on Friday, Zelenskiy (left) said he has tried in vain to schedule a meeting with Putin (right) to discuss the ongoing conflict at their border and questioned the Russian president’s commitment to keeping peace. ‘Honestly, I don’t have time to think about him,’ Zelenskiy said.
Zelenskiy’s comments at the YES summit on Friday came just one day after Russia and Belarus formally opened vast joint military drills as part of a week-long exercise across the territory of both countries and in the Baltic Sea that has alarmed some NATO countries
At the YES summit on Friday, Zelenskiy said he has tried in vain to schedule a meeting with Putin to discuss the ongoing conflict at their border and questioned the Russian president’s commitment to keeping peace.
‘Honestly, I don’t have time to think about him,’ Zelenskiy said.
‘I’m more interested in whether we can really meet substantively, not declaratively as he does with some states.
‘It seems to me that today… they do not see the sense in resolving issues. End the war and resolve conflict issues quickly – they don’t want this.’
Zelenskiy also said relations with the United States had improved, but bemoaned the fact that Ukraine had not received a clear answer to its request to join the NATO military alliance – a move that would be certain to infuriate Moscow.
‘We have not received a direct position on Ukraine’s accession to NATO,’ he said. ‘Ukraine has been ready for a long time.’
He said a refusal to admit Ukraine would weaken NATO while playing into Russia’s hands.
Zelenskiy’s comments at the YES summit on Friday came just one day after Russia and Belarus formally opened vast joint military drills as part of a week-long exercise across the territory of both countries and in the Baltic Sea that has alarmed some NATO countries.
The active part of the exercise, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the West and Belarus due to a crackdown on the opposition there, began on Thursday and will run until September 16.
Officials say the exercises do not envisage specific countries as adversaries.
But the chief of Belarus’ general staff, Major-General Viktor Gulevich, said the exercises should be a ‘signal’ to the West of the ‘futility’ to taking ‘a position of strength’ with the two countries.
The Russian defence ministry said up to 200,000 military personnel, some 80 aircraft and helicopters, up to 15 ships and nearly 300 tanks would take part. The drills will involve live fire and mark the culmination of a bigger three-month exercise.
The drills have alarmed NATO because Belarus is part of quasi buffer zone between Europe and Russia, bordering the country to the east. (Source: Daily Mail)
09 Sep 21. Facing stalemate in ties, Biden and China’s Xi discuss avoiding conflict in call. U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke for 90 minutes in their first talks in seven months on Thursday, discussing the need to avoid letting competition between the world’s two largest economies veer into conflict.
The U.S. side said the “proof will be in the pudding” as to whether the stalemate can be broken with relations between the superpowers languishing at their lowest point in decades.
A White House statement said Biden and Xi had “a broad, strategic discussion,” including areas where interests and values converge and diverge. The conversation focused on economic issues, climate change and COIVD-19, a senior U.S. official told reporters.
“President Biden underscored the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world and the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” the statement said.
Occasional high-level meetings since Xi and Biden’s first call in February have yielded scant progress on a slew of issues, from human rights to transparency over the origins of COVID-19. read more
During the ensuing months, the two sides have lashed out at each other almost constantly, often resorting to vitriolic public attacks, slapping sanctions on each other’s officials and criticizing the other for not upholding their international obligations.
Chinese state media said Xi had told Biden that U.S. policy on China imposes “serious difficulties” on relations, but added that both sides agreed to maintain frequent contact and to ask working-level teams to increase communications.
“China and the United States should … show strategic courage and insight, and political boldness, and push Sino-U.S. relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible,” the state media report said, citing Xi.
Asian currencies and share markets strengthened on Friday, as investors speculated that the call could lead to some thaw in relations between the two most important trading partners for economies in the region.
‘PROOF WILL BE IN THE PUDDING’
The Biden administration, preoccupied by a chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, has signaled that ending America’s longest war will give U.S. political and military leaders the space to focus on more pressing threats stemming from China’s rapid rise. read more
But Beijing has been quick to seize on the U.S. failure in Afghanistan to try to portray the United States as a fickle partner and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said last month that Washington should not expect China’s cooperation on that or other issues if it was also trying to “contain and suppress” China. read more
The senior U.S. administration official told reporters before the call that Washington had been disappointed that Chinese officials appeared only willing to read talking points during recent high-level talks, and that the U.S. side saw the leaders’ call as a test of whether direct engagement with Xi could end what has become a stalemate in ties.
“This is about seeing if there is an ability to engage more substantively than we’ve been able to … the proof will be in the pudding,” the official said following the call, describing the tone as candid but respectful.
But the official also acknowledged that the United States’ ability to change China’s behavior may be limited, and that Washington must largely focus on shoring up the U.S. competitiveness and rallying partners and allies.
Successive U.S. administrations have complained that Beijing has sought to use endless dialogue as a delaying tactic and frustration with this tactic ultimately led to Washington ending an annualized U.S.-China dialogue mechanism.
Even so, the official said Biden had not planned to raise the prospect of U.S. retaliatory action or “costs” if China refused to cooperate on a range of issues, including on COVID-19 origin investigations. Beijing denies the U.S. accusation that it hasn’t cooperated with investigations into the source of the pandemic. read more
The U.S. official said it would “take time” and a “training period” for the Biden administration to convince Chinese leaders – who are themselves preparing domestically for an important Communist Party congress next year – that Beijing’s stance would not pay dividends.
“We also think that essentially Beijing’s actions are quieter than their words,” the official said. “Their responses to our actions have actually been largely symbolic and frankly their hard line rhetoric isn’t really working.” (Source: Reuters)
09 Sep 21. Austin Says Gulf State Responses Highlights Benefits of Allies, Partners. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III today recognized the vital contribution of Arabian Gulf allies, saying their aid enabled the evacuation of 124,000 people from Afghanistan.
Speaking to reporters who traveled with him to Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, Austin thanked leaders in each nation for their indispensable support.
The Gulf states were the first stop for Afghan refugees escaping the Taliban. “We asked them to help us out, and, on very, very short notice, they surged capability; they gave us access,” Austin said during an interview in Kuwait before returning to the United States. “It was a demonstration of true partnership.”
The United States has worked with Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait for generations, and the militaries are accustomed to working together. “It’s great to have partners like this, so that in times of need, we can very quickly turn to them, and they’re very happy to do it,” he said. “And they all felt they played a key role in helping out the Afghans who are transitioning to a new life.”
U.S. Air Force C-17s took the evacuees to the Arabian Gulf nations where joint, combined teams screened and then readied them for further movement to Europe and eventually to the United States. Austin praised the international and interagency effort.
He noted how the effort ramped up in Qatar, for example. “One day they brought in 600 evacuees,” he said. “About five days later, 17,000 evacuees showed up on very short notice. And they were able to manage that.” The joint U.S.-Qatari team adjusted to the situation and adapted new practices to fit the needs.
The same sort of things happened at the refugee hubs in Kuwait and Bahrain.
In Kuwait, the secretary got a chance to speak with some of the service members who provided security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. He specifically spoke to Marines who were there when an Islamic State terrorist killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 200 Afghans. Speaking with the Marines “was very, very meaningful to me,” he said.
The secretary had visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where those injured in the attack were evacuated, and he was able to give progress reports to the Marines about their comrades. “When I visited the Marines in a hospital, half of them are starting to do push-ups and stuff,” he said. “Even though they were injured, they were trying to do PT. But that’s to be expected with these young warriors; they always go above and beyond the call.”
The secretary said the attack is a tough thing for these young service members to process. “But I think they have the support that’s necessary to help them. They are there for each other, and they are a very impressive group.”
Our allies and partners have enabled us to do things that have never been done before. The ability to shuttle back and forth and lift out as many people as we did, as fast as we did could not have happened without partners in this region and in Europe.”
Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense
If Americans ever question the benefits provided the U.S. by friends and allies, the non-combatant evacuation operation is a great example of why the global network of allies and partners is important, the secretary said. Austin was asked if the NEO could have happened without the allies in the Gulf and Europe, “The short answer is no,” he said. “We wouldn’t have had the legs. The aircraft could not have reached the United States.” The situation on the ground in Kabul also did not allow for complete vetting of those evacuating.
“Our allies and partners have enabled us to do things that have never been done before,” he said. “This was the largest airlift in history. The ability to shuttle back and forth and lift out as many people as we did, as fast as we did could not have happened without partners in this region and in Europe.”
The global network is truly global. He noted the Philippines offered to help, as did other nations around the globe.
“I think that’s one of the great strengths of the United States of America,” Austin said. “We treasure our allies and partners. We work hard to make sure that we maintain good relationships,” he said.
“At the end of the day, … you can’t surge trust,” he continued. “You have to, you have to work on these issues every day. You have to strengthen those relationships and build that trust … and that’s what we’ve done. So, in time of need, you see what happened here.”
The United States is a global nation with global interests, Austin said. The security of the Arabian Gulf region is an important issue for the U.S., and its effort to increase trust and cooperation in the region will continue.
Austin said the world is watching as the Taliban takes over the government in Afghanistan to see if the group will allow terror groups to safely plan and train in the country. “I think the world community is kind of watching to see what happens and whether or not al-Qaida has the ability to regenerate in Afghanistan,” Austin said. “We put the Taliban on notice that we expect for them to not allow that to happen.”
The United States will maintain an over-the-horizon counterterrorism capability if a Taliban-run Afghanistan again becomes a terrorist haven, the secretary said. The capabilities the United States has will allow strikes against threats to the homeland. (Source: US DoD)
09 Sep 21. Indonesia agree to Australia further defence and security ties. Indonesia and Australia renewed a defence pact and agreed to boost training ties among a series of joint security agreements on Thursday at a meeting in Jakarta of defence and foreign ministers of both countries.
Memoranda of understanding (MOU) were signed in counter-terrorism, defence and cybersecurity, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said, while Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto said discussions were made about the possibility of Indonesian military cadets attending Australian academies, in what would be “a historic first”.
The Indonesia trip, by Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton, was the first such ministerial visit from Australia since the start of the pandemic.
The four ministers said other areas discussed included peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and political developments in Afghanistan as well as in Myanmar, for which both countries expressed support for the peace efforts of a Southeast Asian regional envoy.
Dutton said Indonesia and Australia must be “anchors” in the an increasingly contested Indo-Pacific region.
The Jakarta visit is part of a series of meetings between Australia’s foreign and defence ministers with counterparts in Indo-Pacific, which will include stops in New Delhi, Seoul, Washington and New York.
08 Sep 21. Who to blame for Taliban takeover? Former Afghan envoy points finger at Kabul. Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan’s first female ambassador to the United States who left her post in July, is clearly horrified by the Taliban takeover of her country. But she is not surprised.
In an interview, Rahmani accused the former U.S.-backed government in Kabul of a failure to lead the country and of widespread corruption that ultimately paved the way for the Taliban’s victory last month.
Also read: The West owes Qatar a favor over Afghanistan. That was the point
She also warned the United States, still smarting from its defeat, that the rise of the Taliban would have far-reaching geopolitical consequences.
“I, as an Afghan, was not surprised by the fact that the Taliban took over Afghanistan the way they did and how quickly they did, partly because of the lack of leadership by the Afghan government that was in place at the time,” Rahmani said.
President Joe Biden acknowledged he and other officials were aware of the risk that the Afghan government could collapse following the U.S. military withdrawal.
But they say they were caught off-guard by the speed of the Taliban victory, a miscalculation that helped lead to a chaotic U.S. military airlift of U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans. Thirteen U.S. troops and scores of Afghans were killed in a suicide bombing during the operation.
Biden, in a speech last month, accused Afghan troops of lacking “the will to fight” for their country’s future.
Rahmani saw things differently.
“It was not the Afghan forces, that they were not willing to fight for their freedom and for protection of their people. It was the leadership that was corrupt. And they handed over, basically, the country to the Taliban,” she said, without providing specific allegations.
In particular, Ashraf Ghani’s decision to abandon the presidency and leave Afghanistan on Aug. 15 was “extremely disappointing and embarrassing,” she said.
Ghani said on Wednesday he left because he wanted to avoid bloodshed. He denied allegations he stole millions of dollars on his way out.
“Leaving Kabul was the most difficult decision of my life,” Ghani said.
Rahmani, who is 43, left the job as ambassador to the United States after nearly three years in the role. During her posting she wrestled with what she believed was a politically-motivated case over an embassy construction project.
She denied any wrongdoing and an anti-corruption court found flaws in the case, sending it back even before the Afghan government crumbled.
“I invite any investigative body to look at all the documents,” she said.
But Rahmani’s accusations of broad corruption and mismanagement in Kabul carry echoes of warnings by current and former U.S. officials for years. Experts say corruption was steadily eroding ordinary Afghans’ faith in the U.S.-backed government and even turning some of them to the Taliban.
Rahmani described being cut out of discussions between Washington and Kabul, including during the Trump administration. Neither capital appeared to be fully preparing for consequences of the U.S. withdrawal, she said.
She warned of geopolitical shifts that will impact the United States and its allies.
Pakistan – a prickly U.S. ally that is close to the Taliban – will have gained leverage in its dealings with the Washington, she said.
“I believe that the United States will be facing a new Pakistan,” she said, while cautioning the Taliban’s takeover will have ripple effects on India, China, Turkey and beyond.
LAUDS AFGHAN WOMEN PROTESTERS
The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, girls could not attend school and women were banned from work and education. Religious police would flog anyone breaking the rules and public executions were carried out.
The Taliban have urged Afghans to be patient and vowed to be more tolerant this time.
But Rahmani says the Taliban’s decision to exclude women from all of the top government positions announced on Tuesday was proof that dark times may be ahead for women.
On Tuesday, a group of Afghan women in a Kabul street had to take cover after Taliban gunmen fired into the air to disperse hundreds of protesters.
“I salute all the brave women of Afghanistan. It is quite risky to do what they are doing,” Rahmani said. “And it’s also an indication to the rest of the world that they have everything to lose at this point.” (Source: Reuters)
08 Sep 21. EU criticises Taliban over line-up for Afghan government. US and Germany to lead talks on international approach to Islamist administration in Kabul. The EU has criticised the Taliban’s choices for Afghanistan’s new government after the Islamist group named ministers whose inclusion raised doubts over its willingness to meet international conditions for recognition and humanitarian aid. The Taliban announced a caretaker government on Tuesday that included several leaders targeted by UN sanctions and some people on the FBI’s most wanted list. The line-up disappointed western powers, which are trying to avoid completely isolating the Taliban, as done during its rule in the 1990s before the 20-year US-led occupation of Afghanistan. Brussels said on Wednesday that the ministerial appointments revealed by the Taliban did not appear to meet its calls for an inclusive government. “It does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks,” said Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU’s diplomatic arm. “Such inclusivity and representation is expected in the composition of a future transitional government and as result of negotiations,” he added. Brussels has said an inclusive Afghan government is a requirement for any engagement with the Taliban-led administration. The UK has also cast doubt on the line-up. “Afghanistan needs inclusive politics that properly represent the country’s diversity and represent all of its communities, including women. We will judge the Taliban by its actions, not its words,” the UK Foreign Office said. The US and Germany are due to host an international meeting on Wednesday to discuss an approach to the Taliban. US secretary of state Antony Blinken and German foreign minister Heiko Maas will meet at the US Ramstein military base in western Germany, along with representatives from 20 other countries who will participate online. The discussions will cover how to ensure their demands are met in exchange for co-operation with the Taliban, including free movement for both Afghan and foreign nationals seeking to leave Afghanistan and human rights guarantees. “We want to clarify how we can deal with the Taliban together, one that also serves our interests: the observance of basic human rights, the maintenance of travel options and humanitarian access and the fight against terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Isis,” Maas said in a statement.
The Taliban has said the government is temporary and would eventually be replaced with one that includes both political opponents and more representatives from ethnic groups outside of the dominant Pashtuns. “Any further engagement will depend on the behaviour of the Taliban,” Maas said, adding that the current government line-up, as well as the Taliban’s violent break-up of protests in Kabul this week, “are not signs that give reason for optimism”. Expectations in the international community that Abdul Ghani Baradar, who led negotiations with the US, would head the new government were not met. He was named deputy to Mohammad Hassan Akhund, an adviser to the late Taliban founder Mohammed Omar, who was tapped as acting prime minister. Sirajuddin Haqqani, senior leader of the Haqqani network that is accused of attacks on US targets and for whose capture the FBI is offering a $5m bounty, will be interior minister. Former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai and veteran politician Abdullah Abdullah were excluded, despite holding extensive talks with the Taliban leadership. The US and its Nato allies completed a chaotic withdrawal last month in the wake of the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country. Maas has warned that Afghanistan is now facing a “threefold humanitarian crisis”. Droughts in part of the country have caused food shortages, while international aid funds have been suspended. “If a new government is unable to keep state affairs going, there is a threat of economic collapse after the political one — with even more drastic humanitarian consequences,” Maas said. Countries such as Iran, Russia and China are likely to be unnerved by the caretaker government and the potential for greater instability. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, posted on Twitter that he was concerned by the Taliban “ignoring the need for inclusive government, [permitting] foreign intervention and using military means instead of dialogue”. (Source: FT.com)
07 Sep 21. Taliban name new Afghan government, interior minister on U.S. sanctions list.
- PM is Mullah Hasan Akhund, aide to late Taliban founder
- New interior minister’s Haqqani group on U.S. terrorism list
- Protesters shout slogans such as ‘Long live the resistance’
- United States says concerned by some Cabinet members
The Taliban drew from its inner high echelons to fill top posts in Afghanistan’s new government on Tuesday, including an associate of the Islamist militant group’s founder as premier and a wanted man on a U.S. terrorism list as interior minister.
World powers have told the Taliban the key to peace and development is an inclusive government that would back up its pledges of a more conciliatory approach, upholding human rights, after a previous 1996-2001 period in power marked by bloody vendettas and oppression of women.
Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, in his first public statement since the Aug. 15 seizure of the capital Kabul by the insurgents, said the Taliban were committed to all international laws, treaties and commitments not in conflict with Islamic law.
“In the future, all matters of governance and life in Afghanistan will be regulated by the laws of the Holy Sharia,” he said in a statement, in which he also congratulated Afghans on what he called the country’s liberation from foreign rule.
The names announced for the new government, three weeks after the Taliban swept to military victory as U.S.-led foreign forces withdrew and the weak Western-backed government collapsed, gave no sign of an olive branch to its opponents.
The United States said it was concerned by the track records of some of the Cabinet members and noted that no women had been included. “The world is watching closely,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said.
Afghans who enjoyed major progress in education and civil liberties over the 20 years of U.S.-backed government remain fearful of Taliban intentions and daily protests have continued since the Taliban takeover, challenging the new rulers.
On Tuesday, as the new government was being announced, a group of Afghan women in a Kabul street took cover after Taliban gunmen fired into the air to disperse hundreds of protesters.
The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, girls could not attend school and women were banned from work and education. Religious police would flog anyone breaking the rules and public executions were carried out.
The Taliban has urged Afghans to be patient and vowed to be more tolerant this time – a commitment many Afghans and foreign powers will be scrutinising as a condition for aid and investment desperately needed in Afghanistan.
LATE FOUNDER’S LEGACY IN NEW GOVERNMENT
Mullah Hasan Akhund, named as prime minister, like many in the Taliban leadership derives much of his prestige from his close link to the movement’s reclusive late founder Mullah Omar, who presided over its rule two decades ago.
Akhund is longtime chief of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body Rehbari Shura, or leadership council. He was foreign minister and then deputy prime minister when the Taliban were last in power and, like many of the incoming Cabinet, is under U.N. sanctions for his role in that government.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new interior minister, is the son of the founder of the Haqqani network, classified as a terrorist group by Washington. He is one of the FBI’s most wanted men due to his involvement in suicide attacks and ties with Al Qaeda.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the movement’s political office who was given his nom de guerre “brother”, or Baradar, by Mullah Omar, was appointed as Akhund’s deputy, main Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul.
The passing over of Baradar for the top government job came as a surprise to some as he had been responsible for negotiating the U.S. withdrawal at talks in Qatar and presenting the face of the Taliban to the outside world.
Baradar was previously a senior Taliban commander in the long insurgency against U.S. forces. He was arrested and imprisoned in Pakistan in 2010, becoming head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha after his release in 2018.
Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, a son of Mullah Omar, was named as defence minister. All the appointments were in an acting capacity, Mujahid said.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One, as President Joe Biden flew to New York, that there would be no recognition of the Taliban government soon.
Taliban spokesman Mujahid, speaking against a backdrop of collapsing public services and economic meltdown amidst the chaos of the tumultuous foreign pullout, said an acting cabinet had been formed to respond to the Afghan people’s primary needs.
He said some ministries remained to be filled pending a hunt for qualified people.
The United Nations said earlier on Tuesday that basic services were unravelling in Afghanistan and food and other aid were about to run out. More than half a million people have been displaced internally in Afghanistan this year.
An international donor conference is scheduled in Geneva on Sept. 13. Western powers say they are prepared to send humanitarian aid, but that broader economic engagement depends on the shape and actions of the Taliban government.
‘RESISTANCE WILL CONTINUE’
On Monday, the Taliban claimed victory in the Panjshir valley, the last province holding out against it.
Pictures on social media showed Taliban members standing in front of the Panjshir governor’s compound after days of fighting with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), commanded by Panjshiri leader Ahmad Massoud.
Massoud denied that his force, consisting of remnants of the Afghan army as well as local militia fighters, was beaten, and tweeted that “our resistance will continue”. (Source: Reuters)
06 Sep 21. US, India To Co-Develop Military Drones. “The DTTI has struggled to maintain momentum in recent years, but this new project may signal a renewed mutual interest in substantial progress for capability benefits,” says Chris Bassler of CSBA.
The Air Forces of the US and India have signed a new agreement to cooperate on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the Pentagon.
The goal, per a Sept. 3 announcement: “the Design, Development, Demonstration, Test and Evaluation of technologies including physical hardware such as small UAVs, avionics, payload power, propulsion, and launch systems through prototyping that meet the operational requirements of the Indian and U.S. Air Forces.”
The over $22m price tag for the effort will be split 50/50, in what the Pentagon bills as the “largest-ever” RDT&E effort between the militaries.
“The United States and India share a common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kelli Seybolt, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs, said in the announcement. “This co-development agreement further operationalizes India’s status as a Major Defense Partner and builds upon our existing strong defense cooperation.”
The effort falls under the aegis of the US-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, or DDTI. That effort dates back to 2012, and was a pet project of then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. When Carter became secretary in 2015, he reinvigorated the effort; Ellen Lord, who ran Pentagon acquisition for the majority of the Trump administration, was also a major supporter of closer development ties with India.
In fact, Lord pushed in 2019 an initiative to co-develop a small unmanned system that could be launched from cargo aircraft. While nothing appears to have come directly out of that, it’s hard not to see linkages between the 2019 plan and what was announced last week.
While widely popular among experts as a concept, there isn’t much to show from several attempts at collaborations, noted Chris Bassler of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. But he sees reasons for cautious optimism this time.
“The DTTI has struggled to maintain momentum in recent years, but this new project may signal a renewed mutual interest in substantial progress for capability benefits,” said Bassler, who previously led international military technology and capabilities cooperation both at the Office of Naval Research and in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV). “The combination of exercising design tools, technology development, production potential in the Indo-Pacific theater, and employment against mutual threats mean this cooperative project has much more strategic significance than perhaps will be easily recognized.”
Bassler specifically would like to see the program focus on a version of the Air Force’s Skyborg program, as India has been investing in a similar concept.
“Skyborg has been demonstrating payloads deployed from UAVs, along with DARPA’s LongShot program, [which] are all examples of unmanned systems employing unmanned systems and increasing standoff ranges,” he said. “These types of capabilities are emblematic of positive efforts to shift the cost imposition ratio for future air combat against numerically advantaged air forces.”
India’s procurement cycle is famously slow and often changes mid-stream — the biggest example of this being its fighter contest, which featured years of delays and restarts after it had made its selection of the Dassault Rafale in 2012 — and its own internal technology development efforts have often floundered.
Still, defense companies have shown a willingness to put up with the chaos, and with good reason: India was the second largest importer of defense goods in 2020, according to SIPRI research, at around 9.5 percent of all global weapon buys. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
07 Sep 21. Iraq Interested in Buying Turkish Drones. Iraq is interested in purchasing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), attack helicopters and advanced weapons from Turkey, the Middle Eastern country’s defense minister has said.
“We asked Turkey for offers and contracts to purchase Bayraktar TB2 [drones], 12 T-129 ATAK helicopters and six unmanned aerial vehicle defense systems,” Juma Inad told a local television station on Aug. 30. “We reached an agreement on the purchase of the Bayraktar UAV,” he added.
Noting that Turkey’s Bayraktar drones are very advanced and have achieved great success, Inad said they “will be useful” in the fight against ISIL.
Attending the International Defense Industry Fair 2021 (IDEF21) held in Istanbul on Aug. 19, Inad met with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
Turkey has become a major exporter of drones in recent years.
The latest locally developed drone, Bayraktar Akıncı long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), was delivered to the Turkish military earlier this week.
Speaking at a ceremony for the occasion, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey ‘has become one of the three most advanced countries in the world in this technology.”
Stressing that all the drones produced by Turkish defense companies are in high demand worldwide, he said new export agreements were signed with more than 10 countries, including NATO member Poland.
Several countries are waiting in line to buy Turkish drones, he said.
“It is important that our national technologies contribute to the security of allied countries, but we make our decisions according to our own strategic priorities,” he added.
Baykar Makina CTO Selçuk Bayraktar told reporters after the ceremony that with the experience they gained, they also worked on an unmanned warplane. He said producing unmanned warplanes has been their dream for about 10 years.
Noting that serial production of the Akıncı drone continues, he said they have produced the ninth aerial vehicle, but not all of them were mass-produced.
Contracts for exports of Turkey’s domestically produced Bayraktar TB2 drones have been signed for more than 10 countries, he said, adding that it has flown in four countries besides Turkey.
“Since Akıncı is of course a much more strategic platform, it attracted much more attention when we first started designing it and in the later stages. First of all, we said that we would evaluate those demands by completing our own production, perfecting the aircraft, and making it ready for mass production,” he said.
“There is also a serious demand for the Akıncı since it is a very rare aircraft in a higher class,” he added. (Source: UAS VISION/Hurriyet Daily News)
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