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04 Nov 21. Romania, Ukraine say more troops needed on the Black Sea. Ukraine and Romania want Western allies to step up their military presence in the Black Sea as they accuse Russia of militarizing the region, according to letters obtained by Defense News.
Their overlapping warnings — that Russia’s aggression and deployments of missile systems in Crimea threaten allies more broadly — came in dispatches from each country’s ambassador to the U.S. Senate’s Europe and Regional Security Cooperation subcommittee ahead of its Black Sea hearing last week.
“Russia has established the large anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) exclusion zone on [the Black Sea]‚” Ukraine’s envoy, Oksana Markarova, wrote in her Oct. 29 letter, adding that Moscow uses the area as a springboard for its Syria operations. “The NATO’s ability to defend its member-states and provide possible assistance to the third countries (Ukraine and Georgia) has been severely undermined.”
“Growing militarization of the Crimean peninsula endangers not only the littoral Black Sea States, but also [the] much wider region,” the ambassador wrote, adding that NATO should elaborate on joint response plans in the event Russia undertakes an armed attack on the Black Sea.
Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited NATO ally Romania and alliance aspirants Ukraine and Georgia as part of a tour to reassure the allies and to urge them to cooperate on the Black Sea. During the trip, which ended at NATO’s Brussels headquarters, neither Austin nor NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg unveiled plans for any force increases on the Black Sea.
“There is no change to our operational capability or deterrence posture,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said Thursday. “We operate in the Black Sea and many other areas across the entire region on a regular basis, which is all part of our ongoing commitment and reassurance to our NATO allies and partners.”
The conversation comes as tension between Moscow and the West sunk to post-Cold War lows after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, its support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine and other irritants.
Along with its ongoing economic and diplomatic efforts, Romania said it is already spending $3 bn to expand its Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base ninefold with the goal of hosting an expanded U.S. and allied presence.
Its top recommendation is that allies create a comprehensive Black Sea strategy, but item two recommends Romania as a hub for increased joint exercises, pre-positioned military equipment and new forces. Right now, NATO’s tailored forward presence in the region consists of only a headquarters element in Romania.
“Credible deterrence can be assured only through solid presence,” read the Oct. 26 letter from Romania’s envoy, Andrei Muraru. “Increasing U.S. military presence in Romania in all domains ― land, air, and sea ― including a U.S. command and control structure.”
“Securing the NATO Eastern Flank in a unitary and coherent manner from the Baltic to the Black Sea, by implementing a single Forward Presence along the entire Flank that ensures stronger defense and reduces current vulnerabilities caused by the undeniable deterrence gap for the Black Sea region,” the letter continued.
Romania also reiterated its support for Georgia and Ukraine’s goal to join NATO, which is something Russia strongly opposes.
Beyond the U.S. helping Ukraine continue to rebuild its naval forces, Kyiv wants Washington’s backing for a NATO presence on the Black Sea akin to NATO’s forward presence on the Baltic Sea. NATO maintains four multinational battalion-size battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Another of Ukraine’s recommendations is: “To intensify NATO’s rotating naval presence in the Black Sea, to support the freedom of navigation and facilitate trade routes.”
While the complicated politics and history of the region make it difficult to develop either a regional or NATO-led approach, some experts believe Russia’s stepped-up military activities could be a galvanizing force ― if the U.S. leads the way. NATO ally Turkey, which dominates the Black Sea, has historically been reluctant toward a Western military presence there and shares close but complicated ties with Moscow.
At last week’s hearing on the Black Sea, Ian Brzezinski, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO policy under the George W. Bush administration, suggested that the U.S., if Turkey is initially resistant, get creative and form a regional coalition of nations.
“Stand it up, prove its value, and next thing you know, you’ll have a country like Turkey knocking on the door and saying: ‘How can I be part of it?’ And that’s how all of a sudden it becomes a NATO organization,” he said.
Brzezinski, among experts who testified in favor of a Western-led Black Sea strategy and military presence, suggested that presence could include an intelligence fusion cell, coastal batteries and land forces backed up by a U.S. brigade combat team in Romania and Bulgaria.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, is irritated by other Western action on the Black Sea.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin on Nov. 1 emphasized the need to strengthen the country’s air defenses, he pointed to NATO’s military activities near Russian borders. That included the deployment of NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense components in Eastern Europe and increasingly frequent missions by NATO ships near Russian waters in the Baltic and Black seas.
“We must further improve our air and space defense system as leading powers have been developing prospective high-speed strike weapons,” Putin said during a meeting in Sochi with Russian military leaders. “It’s also warranted by the military-political situation, including increasingly intensive flights by NATO aircraft near Russia and the appearance of the alliance’s warships armed with guided missiles in the Baltic and Black Seas.”
Russia recently suspended its mission at NATO and ordered the closure of the alliance’s office in Moscow after NATO had withdrawn the accreditation of eight Russian officials at NATO headquarters, saying it believed they had been secretly working for Russian intelligence. The deployment of U.S. and other NATO ships near waters it claims as its own are another source of tension.
“Even now, a U.S. warship has entered the Black Sea, and we can see it in binoculars or crosshairs of our defense systems,” Putin said in an apparent reference to the deployment of the U.S. destroyer Porter, which had sailed into the Black Sea and was to be joined this week by Mount Whitney, the flagship of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet. (Source: Defense News)
03 Nov 21. UK troops seize suspected Daesh weapons and detain fighters in Mali. British soldiers serving the UN peacekeeping mission seized RPGs, AK47s and motorbikes during operations near Ansongo, Mali.
UK troops deployed to Mali as part of the UN’s peacekeeping mission have detained three suspected Daesh terrorists and seized weapons during operations to deter and disrupt non-compliant armed groups threatening local communities.
During a 17-day operation in September, soldiers from the UK’s Long Range Reconnaissance Group (LRRG) disrupted suspected violent extremists from groups believed to include the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), seizing weapons and securing villages in line with the UN’s mandate to protect civilians.
During one encounter, soldiers from the Queen’s Dragoon Guards came across three suspected ISGS militants who ditched items as they fled the scene. One of the three men was detained after driving his motorbike into a body of water in a bid to escape. During a search of the area, the soldiers seized two motorcycles, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher with rockets, radios and combat clothing.
Days later, soldiers from the same regiment happened across two armed males, detaining them after they attempted to flee when they were approached. The soldiers seized two AK47 rifles, ammunition, radios and other military equipment.
All three detentions happened in an area where ISGS fighters are known to operate, although part of the peacekeepers’ role in Mali involves approaching members of legal militias who have signed up to the Algiers Peace Agreement to make sure they are complying with its terms.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “These operations are yet another example of how UK peacekeepers are making a real difference to the UN mission to protect civilians in Mali.
Disrupting armed groups and taking valuable weapons and ammunition out of the hands of terrorists makes communities safer, while our presence in the region helps the UN mission to understand and counter threats to the local population.”
Both encounters happened under Operation Makara 2, a UN operation to stabilise population areas around Ansongo and deter or disrupt terrorist groups in order to protect and reassure the local population. The operation was ordered after dozens of villagers were massacred by suspected extremists in the area in August in attacks which the LRRG helped a UN Human Rights team to investigate.
Earlier this year, UK Armed Forces conducting a ‘cordon and search’ operation seized AK47s, ammunition, fuel and radios.
Lt Col Will Meddings, Commanding Officer of the UK Task Group, said: “The LRRG are not only a force that finds, but a force that acts. These detentions, along with the seizure of these suspected ISGS weapons and equipment, show that a robust approach to peacekeeping helps protect the Malian people. Key to successes like this are putting out patrols for long periods that persist in place. By returning to the sites of August’s cowardly attacks we built up a picture of how jihadist groups operate that has allowed us to take action like this against them.”
The UK Task Group provides the UN with a specialised long-range reconnaissance capability, conducting patrols in remote areas. British soldiers gather intelligence and engage with the local population to help the UN mission understand and respond to threats and fulfil its mandate to protect civilians.
During Operation MAKARA 2, the Task Group also provided assistance to the UN’s civil pillar, enabling them to visit projects and identify future opportunities for engagement.
The Sahel is one of Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions, with more than 15 m people requiring humanitarian assistance and increasing insecurity, including terrorist violence and conflict.
The UK is providing targeted assistance through defence, diplomatic and development expertise, including supporting the UN with critical capabilities like the reconnaissance force. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
03 Nov 21. Seoul pursues whole-of-government export strategy. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is devising a new defence export strategy geared towards meeting evolving market conditions, the agency said on 2 November. The so-called K-Defense Globalization Strategy has been drafted through a series of surveys and assessments, and is geared towards boosting South Korea’s defence export profile.
The strategy is being implemented by the Korea Research Institute for Defense Technology Planning and Advancement (KRIT), an agency under DAPA.
DAPA said that KRIT has determined that the K-Defense Globalization Strategy will prioritise a whole-of-government approach to pursue military exports.
Such a cross-ministerial approach is necessary to engage with customers’ increasingly diversified requirements, said DAPA. This includes requirements for defence suppliers to support customers’ commercial sectors through transfers of technologies, local production, and export facilitation.
DAPA pointed out that the approach is aligned with target markets’ evolving defence offset and industrial collaboration policies. “For an exporting company there are many challenges in meeting these eclectic trade requirements,” said DAPA.
DAPA indicated that the K-Defense Globalization Strategy will continue to be adapted to meet customer requirements. It added that KRIT will also enhance efforts to introduce export policy improvements, including methods to ensure enhanced cross-ministerial support for such international sales. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Nov 21. Israel, US Step Up Direct Actions Against Iranian Drone Production.
“This is not a new front, but now the actions will be more frequent and more aggressive,” an Israeli defense source told Breaking Defense.
As Iran and its proxies increasingly rely on unmanned systems to carry out attacks in the region, Israel and the US have decided to step up operations targeting the Iranian drone industry, sources here say.
“This is not a new front, but now the actions will be more frequent and more aggressive,” an Israeli defense source told Breaking Defense, shortly after Israel launched a military strike in Syria to destroy what the source described as delivery of drone and air defense systems.
Officials in Jerusalem have been pushing for months to be more aggressive in dealing with Iran’s homegrown drones, particularly after a suicide drone attack — linked to Iran by the US — on a commercial shipping vessel over the summer. Behind the scenes, Israeli officials have felt the Biden administration has been dragging its feet on dealing with the threat.
An Oct. 20 drone attack on American forces in Syria, however, has given hope in Jerusalem that Washington is coming around to the threat.
On Oct. 29, The US Treasury Department for the first time launched sanctions against a pair of companies and a handful of individuals which Washington says are tied up in supporting unmanned systems for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Qods Force. Among those sanctioned is Brig. Gen. Saeed Aghajani, who leads the Revolutionary Guards’ UAV Command; the US directly tied him to both the July shipping attack and a 2019 strike on a Saudi Arabian oil refinery.
“Iran’s proliferation of UAVs across the region threatens international peace and stability,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. “Treasury will continue to hold Iran accountable for its irresponsible and violent acts.”
A second Israeli defense source told Breaking Defense that the American move came after Israel provided details of Iran’s armed drone industry. The sources added that Israeli Defense minister Benny Gantz and Israeli foreign affairs minister Yair Lapid in an August meeting with American officials specifically identified the names of people for Washington to sanction, with Ganz pushing for Aghajani to be held responsible for the attacks carried out by drones he helped provide; another name floated by the Israelis, Revolutionary Guards Air Force commander Amir Ali Hajizada, was not included in the sanctions.
While Washington made moves with sanctions, Israel, as is often the case, took a more direct approach one day later.
On Oct. 30, the official Syrian news agency reported that Israel had launched missiles at a convoy in the suburbs of Damascus, and that the country’s air defense system had been activated. According to reports, Israel attacked a shipment of weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Syrian Center for Human Rights reported that the attack was aimed at Hezbollah weapons depots and militias supported by Iran northwest of Damascus.
An attack into Syria that occurs in daylight, and especially at noon, is very unusual. That the strike occurred in broad daylight means Israel was trying to send a signal. While Israel has not officially confirmed this attack, the first defense source confirmed the strike and said it was performed by using ground-to-ground missiles, targeting a convoy of parts for Iranian air defense and unmanned systems.
“The convoy was on its way, and real-time intelligence resulted in this unusual attack,” the source said.
What comes next — a retaliatory drone strike from Iran-backed militias, more strikes from Israel, or American action — remains to be seen. But on Oct. 31, President Joe Biden would not rule anything out.
“With regards to the issue of how we’re going to respond to their actions against interest of the US, whether they are drone strikes or anything else, is we’re going to respond,” Biden said in a press conference following the G20 summit in Rome.
Coincidentally, the US Marine Corps Task Force 51 began training in Israel on Tuesday; according to Nir Dvori of Israel’s Channel 12, this is the first time this unit has been training in Israel. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
02 Nov 21. Special ops task force in Middle East restructured for ‘broad, regional’ ISIS fight. To address evolving regional threats and streamline its command and control of special operations activities in the Middle East, Special Operations Command Central restructured its Special Operations Joint Task Force leading the fight against jihadi groups.
Special Operations Joint Task Force–Levant was stood up quietly on July 1 and replaces Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, which had been overseeing special operations activities in Syria and Iraq.
Commanded by Army Brig. Gen. Isaac J. Peltier, SOJTF-Levant also oversees activities in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, according to Special Operations Command Central spokesman Army Maj. Charles An.
While the overall mission remains supporting the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition to “ensure the enduring defeat of the ISIS caliphate,” the restructured task force “allows for a broad, regional approach to that fight,” according to Special Operations Command Central.
“We operate in a region with numerous terrorist and violent extremist organizations and share a common interest with partner nations in prevailing against these regional security challenges,” An told Military Times. “Including all countries in the Levant, expanding the SOJTF purview demonstrates our commitment to increasing stability in the region.”
An declined to disclose how many troops are attached to SOJTF-Levant, citing safety and security concerns.
Following the consolidation, SOJTF-Levant conducted two joint combined exchange trainings in Egypt with subsequent participation in Exercise Bright Star 2021, An said.
The trainings “were part of a series of training events that provided opportunities for the two elite forces to work together on a broad range of skills and tactics to strengthen defense ties and promote regional security,” he said.
The two multiweek joint combined exchange trainings were held at Inshas Air Base, Egypt, said An. One partnered U.S. Special Operation Forces with Egyptian special operations forces, while the other partnered U.S. special operations forces and Egyptian special operations airborne commandos.
“The latter exercise included 20 joint military free fall jumps,” said An. “This was the first time military free fall jumps have been conducted jointly between the U.S. and Egypt.”
Two additional trainings are scheduled in the coming months: one in Jordan and one in Lebanon, he said.
In Jordan, combat aviation advisers from a U.S. Air Force Operational Aviation Detachment mobile training team “worked with and through the Royal Jordanian Air Force to support building partnership capacity, foreign internal defense, and security force assistance,” said An.
Exercise Bright Star 2021, the 17th iteration of that training, was held at Mohamed Naguib Military Base, Egypt, between Sept. 2 and Sept. 16, with about 600 U.S. military personnel participating.
After its conclusion, the countries held the 32nd U.S.–Egypt Military Cooperation Committee in Cairo, on Sept. 20–21.
“The U.S. deeply values its long history of cooperation and friendship with the nations of the Levant,” said An.
Joseph Votel, the retired Army general who commanded both U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command, told Military Times he views the new task force “as a maturing of our overall approach in the region.”
The idea, he said, “is about combining what were necessarily, at the time, multiple SOF headquarters and units that were conducting a variety of missions across” the area of responsibility.
Consolidation often has the effect of sustaining the effort over a long period of time, as well as increasing cultural knowledge and unity of effort and command, he said.
Another benefit is “strengthening relationships” with more permanent and stable headquarters (although this may not be the case in Syria, he said).
“To me this makes sense and is not unlike things we (and I) tried to do in the past,” he said. “There is a time to have multiple headquarters and units addressing multiple problems — but there is also a time for consolidating … I think this is what is probably happening.” (Source: Defense News)
02 Nov 21. Ukraine’s government approves deal with UK to buy warships, naval equipment. Ukraine’s government approved a draft agreement with the United Kingdom on taking out a bn-dollar loan to build up the nation’s navy. In the making since late 2020, the deal envisages a 1.25bn pound ($1.6bn), 10-year loan provided to Kyiv for procuring from Britain a number of warships, both new and used, as well as anti-ship missiles and equipment for naval bases. The government decree was signed by Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Oct. 28.
The vast effort titled Ukraine’s Naval Capabilities Enhancement Program (UNCEP) was launched in October 2020. Following a number of memorandums signed by the two governments, the U.K. is ready to build two brand new Protector P-5oU platform missile boats for Ukraine’s navy. Six more vessels of the class can be built in Ukraine.
The 50-meter, 500-ton warships are each expected to carry small and medium caliber artillery ordnance, eight anti-ship missiles and an air defense system. According to Britain’s defense attaché in Kyiv, production will begin in early 2022.
British company Babcock won a contract and is expected to manufacture the vessels in the city of Rosyth in Scotland.
Previously it was reported that the company is going to produce Barzan-class patrol boats designed by Vosper Thorneycroft. According to later reports, Bobcat deemed the project unsuitable for Ukraine’s navy, allegedly due to the ship’s problematic aluminum frame.
As part of the Ukrainian-U.K. sea defense deal, the Royal Navy is preparing to provide Ukraine with two minesweeping ships: HMS Ramsey and HMS Blyth. The decommissioned vessels with nearly 20 years of service record will be repaired and modernized before being transferred to Ukraine.
In late October, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry also confirmed its talks with the U.K. regarding a possible sale of Brimstone Sea Spear maritime missiles designed by MBDA U.K. The deal envisages British contractors joining the construction of Ukrainian naval bases in Ochakiv and Berdyansk, which are expected to be completed by 2024.
Both countries are also reportedly in talks on British participation in Ukraine’s effort to build a number of navy frigates.
According to a June report by Ukrainian Military Portal, a Kyiv-based defense news website, Babcock may help resurrect the construction of Volodymyr Velykiy, a problematic corvette building project, only 30% of which has been completed since 2011 due to scarce funding. Defense News, the U.S.-based military broadsheet, reported this June that Babcock may supply Ukraine with a brand new Inspiration-class (Type 31) frigate, which is expected to enter service with the Royal Navy in coming years. The company declined to comment on its frigate project for Ukraine, according to Defense News.
The U.K. in 2019-2020 joined an effort to help Ukraine resurrect its naval power against an increasingly aggressive Russia in the Black and the Azov Seas. With the 2014 occupation of Crimea, Ukraine lost nearly 80% of its naval capabilities and infrastructure, including ships, bases and naval aviation.
Since then, Ukraine has moved to develop a mosquito fleet by building a handful of gunboats and obtaining used patrol vessels form the US. Apart from the upcoming British supplies, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with two used Island-class patrol boats (with three more coming up), and with the approved sale of up to 16 new Mark VI vessels. Turkey in 2021 launched the production of an Ada-class corvette under a contract with Kyiv. The new ship is expected to be completed in 2022. (Source: https://www.kyivpost.com/)
02 Nov 21. Military purchases worth ₹7,965 crore cleared in Make-in-India push. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Tuesday cleared the purchase of locally produced military hardware worth ₹7,965 crore, including light utility helicopters (LUH) for the army and the air force, fire control systems for the navy, super rapid gun mounts (SRGM) for warships, and the upgrade of Dornier aircraft for coastal surveillance, the Union defence ministry said.
DAC, headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh, accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for 12 LUHs from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Lynx U2 fire control system from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to boost the navy’s detection, tracking and engagement capabilities, and indigenous SRGMs from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to enable warships engage fast manoeuvring targets, officials said.
Under India’s defence procurement rules, AoN by the council is the first step towards buying military equipment.
“All the proposals are under Make-in-India with focus on design, development and manufacturing in the country… In further impetus to Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India campaign), a global procurement of naval guns has been foreclosed with the quantity added to the upgraded SRGMs manufactured by BHEL,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement refers to an earlier plan of the Indian Navy to buy the Mk 45 gun system from the US — it has now been shelved. In November 2019, the US cleared the sale of 13 Mk 45 anti-surface and anti-air naval gun systems, along with ammunition and related add-ons, to India for an estimated cost of $1bn. The gun systems are made by BAE Systems.
“The SRGM was earlier to be imported from the US. But now this project will be given to BHEL to give a push to the Make-in-India drive. This will help save ₹3,000 crore,” an official said.
The government has taken several measures to boost self-reliance in the defence sector over the last two years. These include raising foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence manufacturing, creating a separate budget for buying locally made military hardware and notifying two lists of 209 defence items that cannot be imported in bans that will be progressively enforced from 2021 to 2025.
These items include airborne early warning and control systems, light combat aircraft, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, long-range land attack cruise missiles, basic trainer aircraft, specified types of helicopters, and artillery guns.
Former army vice chief Lieutenant General AS Lamba (retd) said the indigenisation drive was finally coming of age with the government’s comprehensive approach towards self-reliance in the defence sector.
“We are now seeing a new trend wherein the Indian industry is making complete weapons and systems in the country, in contrast to the past when indigenisation was limited to components and sub-systems,” Lamba added.
LUH is an important project as it will eventually replace the army and the air force’s ageing fleets of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters whose safety record has been blemished by a string of crashes. Around 15 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters crashed during the last 10 years killing several pilots.
Chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, then a lieutenant general, survived a Cheetah crash in Dimapur on February 3, 2015.
The LUHs cleared by DAC are six each for the army and air force. HAL expects the army and the air force to place combined orders for at least 187 light helicopters in the coming years — 126 for the army and 61 for the air force.
The design of the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters is more than 50 years old.
HT reported on October 7 that after wrapping up rigorous flight testing of prototype helicopters in challenging conditions, HAL has set August 2022 as the deadline for carrying out the maiden test flight of the first chopper in the LUH limited series production.
HAL is expected to deliver the first set of LUHs to the two services in two to three years of the signing of the contract. Subsequent orders will be executed at a faster pace as LUH production will also begin at HAL’s new helicopter factory in Tumakuru in Karnataka. The LUH’s first test flight will be carried out from the Tumakuru facility. The Bengaluru and Tumakuru facilities will be capable of rolling out 100 LUHs every year.
The LUH has proved its capabilities in multiple rounds of trials in extreme conditions in the northern sector, Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director-general, Centre for Air Power Studies, has previously said.
India is also looking at jointly building with Russia the Kamov-226T light helicopters in the country. The Kamovs are also expected to replace the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. However, the $1bn programme, under which Russia will supply 60 helicopters in flyaway condition and the remaining 140 will be manufactured in India, is yet to kick off. The army, air force and navy together need around 500 light helicopters. (Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/)
01 Nov 21. France’s Macron says Australia PM lied over submarine deal. French President Emmanuel Macron said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to him over the cancellation of a submarine building contract in September, and indicated more efforts were required to rebuild trust between the two allies. In Rome for the G20 summit, the two leaders were meeting for first time since Australia scrapped the multi-bn dollar deal with France as part of a new security alliance with Britain and the United States unveiled in September.
The alliance, dubbed AUKUS, which could give Australia access to nuclear-powered submarines, caught Paris off guard, prompting it to recall ambassadors from Washington and Canberra amid accusations that France had been betrayed.
“I don’t think, I know,” Macron said in response to a question whether he thought that Morrison had lied to him
“I have a lot of respect for your country,” he said in comments on Sunday to a group of Australian reporters who had travelled to Italy for the summit of leaders of the top 20 economies.
“I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for your people. I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line, and consistently, with this value.”
Morrison told a media conference later the same day that he had not lied, and had previously explained to Macron that conventional submarines would no longer meet Australia’s needs. The process of repairing ties had begun, he added.
Morrison and Macron spoke last week before the Australian prime minister publicly sought a handsake with his French counterpart at the G20 meeting.
On Monday, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce urged France to view the matter in perspective.
“We didn’t steal an island, we didn’t deface the Eiffel Tower. It was a contract,” Joyce told reporters in Moree, 644 km(400 miles) northwest of Sydney.
“Contracts have terms and conditions, and one of those terms and conditions and propositions is that you might get out of the contract.”
Joyce spoke just hours before Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met France’s ambassador to Canberra. Payne said their hour-long meeting focused on efforts to repair the relationship.
On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden said the handling of the new pact had been clumsy, adding that he had thought France had been informed of the contract cancellation before the pact was announced. (Source: Reuters)
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