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11 Feb 22. U.S. and allies tell citizens to leave Ukraine as Russia could invade ‘at any time.’
- U.S, Japan, Australia urge their citizens to leave
- U.S. says air attack likely first
- New Russian border deployments detected by satellite
- U.S. to send 3,000 extra troops to Poland – sources
- Moscow says response to its demands shows ‘disrespect’
The United States and its allies urged their citizens to leave Ukraine right away to avoid a Russian invasion, including a possible air assault, that Washington said on Friday could occur anytime.
Moscow accused Western nations of spreading lies to distract from their own aggressive acts.
The United States and Europe stepped up their warnings of an imminent attack while the Kremlin, jostling for more influence in post-Cold War Europe, rejected a joint EU-NATO diplomatic response to its demands to reduce tensions as disrespectful.
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border but denies it plans to invade.
U.S. officials, while pressing for diplomacy, said Russia could invade before the conclusion of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 20 and may seek to seize the capital Kyiv and other cities.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Americans could not expect military evacuation if they remained in Ukraine and should leave within 48 hours.
“We continue to see signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” Sullivan told reporters. “We are in the window when an invasion could begin at any time.”
“If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality,” he said.
Australia and New Zealand became the latest countries to urge their citizens to leave as soon as possible, joining Britain, Japan, Latvia, Norway and the Netherlands. Israel said it was evacuating relatives of embassy staff.
Russia wants guarantees from the West, including a promise of no missile deployments near its borders, no NATO membership for Ukraine, and a scaling back of the alliance’s military infrastructure.
The West describes Russia’s main demands as “non-starters” but is willing to talk about arms control and confidence-building steps.
After Sullivan’s briefing at the White House, Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy appeared to mock his comments:
“Some reasonable people were hoping U.S.-fanned hysteria was waning,” he posted on Twitter. “Maybe they put a jinx on it, because scaremongers have clearly got second wind. Our troops are still on our territory and I wonder if the U.S. will invade Ukraine itself – someone has to, after such a panic campaign.”
The EU and NATO alliance delivered a joint reply to Russia this week on behalf of their member states as diplomatic efforts continue to try to diffuse the crisis.
Russia on Friday said it expected individual answers from each country, and called the collective response “a sign of diplomatic impoliteness and disrespect”.
It later said that Western countries, with help from the media, were spreading false information about its intentions to try to distract attention from their own aggressive actions.
Washington will send 3,000 extra troops to Poland in coming days to try and help reassure NATO allies, four U.S. officials told Reuters. They are in addition to 8,500 already on alert for deployment to Europe if needed. read more
Earlier, commercial satellite images from a U.S. firm showed new Russian military deployments at several sites near the border.
Biden told NBC News on Thursday that things in Ukraine “could go crazy quickly,” and on Friday held a call about the crisis with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Poland and Romania, as well as the heads of NATO and the EU.
The leaders agreed to make coordinated efforts to deter Russian aggression, including by being ready to impose “massive consequences and severe economic costs” if it chose military escalation, the White House said after the call.
Washington also expressed concern that Russia and China were cooperating at the highest level, with a senior administration official saying on Saturday the two were “working to undermine us.”
A partnership agreement between Moscow and Beijing shows they are in “fundamental alignment” that is growing closer, and a meeting between Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping shows Beijing sees Moscow’s moves regarding Ukraine as “legitimate,” the official told reporters accompanying Blinken on a flight from Australia to Fiji.
U.S. officials believe the crisis could be reaching a critical point, with rhetoric from Moscow hardening, six Russian warships reaching the Black Sea, and more Russian military equipment arriving in Belarus.
“We continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Stocks extended declines, with the S&P 500 index down around 1.9%. Gold and oil prices rose. The rouble fell to its lowest level against the dollar since March 2020. read more
Moscow has said it could take unspecified “military-technical” action if its demands are not met. This week it launched joint military exercises in neighbouring Belarus and naval drills in the Black Sea.
Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to yield results.
Four-way talks in Berlin between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France on Thursday made no progress.
Russia openly mocked British foreign minister Liz Truss when she visited on Thursday and there was no breakthrough after talks between Putin and Macron earlier in the week.
“I’m not going to speculate as to (Putin’s) motivations, his intentions, or, at this point, his decisions,” said Sullivan. “All I will say is that we are ready either way.”
11 Feb 22. Iraq seeks French drones and jets, additional Russian tanks. Iraq’s military is seeking several defense systems of different origins, including French Rafale fighter jets, drones and artillery, as well as Russian T-90 tanks, with some ongoing negotiations reaching an advanced stage.
“France has offered to sell 20 drones; currently the Iraqi [Ministry of Defence] is undertaking technical analysis,” Norman Ricklefs, who leads geopolitical consultancy NAMEA Group and was previously an adviser to Iraq’s interior minister and to the secretary general of the MoD, told Defense News.
An Iraqi delegation is scheduled to visit France in the near future to inspect the drones.
Ricklefs, who has recently spoken to Iraqi defense officials about the procurement plans, said there isn’t yet a contract for the drones. At this point, he believes the delegation will “perform a quality check” on the unmanned systems.
The French Armed Forces Ministry did not respond to several requests for comment on the visit, nor on the types or numbers of aircraft that might be offered.
In a January interview by the Iraqi News Agency with the chief of the country’s land forces, he revealed the negotiations to procure French drones. “Iraq is negotiating many contracts including armed drones capable of flying for 30 hours in Iraqi airspace and of addressing targets and continuously monitoring various regions, with proven ability and effectiveness,” Lt. Gen Qasim Al-Muhammadi said.
Ricklefs said Iraq is also in negotiations for Pakistani UAVs. “Pakistan has also offered to sell Iraq 20 drones, but the MoD is still analyzing the offer,” he told Defense News.
Additionally, Al-Muhammadi said in the interview, “there are plans to increase the number of tanks and increase the divisions and brigades in order to increase the capabilities of the Iraqi Army.” The service currently operates American Abrams and Russian T-90 tanks, he added.
Ricklefs noted that the MoD is seeking additional T-90 tanks from Russia, having already ordered 73 2016. The Iraqi MoD announced in June 2018 that, as part the order’s first batch, 39 of those T-90S tanks were delivered to the 9th Division’s 35th Brigade. This brigade was equipped with M1 Abrams tanks, but they were transferred to the 34th Brigade after the T-90 delivery, the ministry has said.
“There are excellent artillery systems with high accuracy that will be imported from France, in addition to weapon systems equipped with night goggles,” Al-Muhammadi said in the interview. “There are many contracts signed by Iraq to procure equipment, some of which have already arrived at the national port, and others are still under production.”
In terms of local production, he described “a serious desire to develop Iraqi weapons, and there are projects that have been launched already to enable us to manufacture systems ourselves.”
“There is competition between the East and the West to prove their systems’ capabilities, and as armed forces, we support armament sources diversification,” he added.
For its part, the Iraqi Air Force is seeking French Rafale fighter jets. In September 2021, the chairman of the Security and Defense Committee of Iraq’s parliament, Mohammed Redha al-Haidar, revealed Iraq and Paris signed a contract for the aircraft.
“The Iraqi Air Force is intending to purchase 14 French Rafale fighter jets at a cost of $240 million, which will be paid in oil rather than cash,” Ricklefs told Defense News about the deal.
He also said the Air Force is nearing the purchase of Super Mushshak fighter/trainer aircraft, but he was unable to provide further details. (Source: Defense News)
11 Feb 22. Top Republicans urge Biden to reject Russia, China demands on missile deployments. Top House Republicans are urging President Joe Biden to reject calls from Russia and China to limit U.S. deployments of intermediate-range and short-range ground-based missiles in Europe and the Pacific region, according to a letter obtained by Defense News.
In the Feb. 10 letter to Biden, the Republicans express their opposition to the administration’s willingness to negotiate with Russia over missiles previously covered by the defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Since the U.S. exited the INF Treaty in 2019 over claims Russia was failing to comply with its obligations, the Pentagon has looked at fielding the previously banned weapons to deter China.
“We are gravely concerned that any attempt to resurrect the INF Treaty or reimpose limitations on ground-launched missiles would catastrophically undermine American national security, encourage Russian aggression, and advance a flawed view of security that sacrifices peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” read the letter, led by Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin.
With the letter, the lawmakers ask how Army and Marine Corps modernization plans that center around American ground-based missiles in the Pacific region would be impacted by “any new or modified INF Treaty” and write that it’s “unconscionable” for the administration to consider reimposing limits on American ground-based missiles.
“The consequences would be deadly. Without the ability to amass large numbers of distributed and affordable missiles, a future war in the Indo-Pacific would be over before it began. It is not an exaggeration to say peace in the Indo-Pacific — not to mention the lives of countless American service members — hangs in the balance,” the letter read.
The letter’s signatories include the top Republicans of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama; the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas; and House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio; as well as the chair of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.
The 1987 INF Treaty banned the U.S. and Soviet Union from deploying ground-based nuclear and conventional ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges from 310 miles to 3,400 miles, while also allowing intrusive on-site compliance verification. It ended, however, amid claims by the Obama and Trump administrations, as well as NATO, that Russia was violating its terms.
The U.S. Army launched a Pershing 2 missile on Jan. 13, 1988, from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The ground-based missile was banned after the INF Treaty’s passage in the 1980s. (AP)
China’s military has fielded short-, medium- and intermediate-range conventional systems capable of holding U.S. and allied bases in the Pacific region at risk, according to a Pentagon assessment published last year. Meanwhile, American commanders in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe have said fielding equivalent systems is important for deterring China and Russia.
In a statement, Gallagher argued the Trump administration’s justified exit from the INF Treaty “both imposed costs on Russia for its material breach of the agreement and set the stage for our military to counter China’s vast missile arsenal.”
“In light of looming Russian aggression in Ukraine and its sustained record of breaching its Treaty obligations, it is insane the Biden administration is even considering negotiating new restrictions on ground-launched missiles. The administration must reverse course before it sacrifices peace in Asia upon the altar of appeasement in Europe,” he said.
Japan is potentially open to hosting American intermediate-range missiles, pending the results of a defense policy review, the ambassador of Japan to the United States, Koji Tomita, told Politico last week.
During a round of U.S.-Russia diplomacy to defuse the Ukraine crisis, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters the U.S. made clear it is “open to discussing certain missile systems” along the lines of the INF Treaty.
Russia has sought guarantees that neither side will deploy intermediate- or short-range missiles close enough to hit the territory of the other side. And a similar call appeared in a 5,300-word joint statement from Russia and China last week.
Moscow and Beijing argued that Washington’s “acceleration of research and the development” into the previously banned missiles “and the desire to deploy them in the Asia-Pacific and European regions, as well as their transfer to the allies, entail an increase in tension and distrust, increase risks to international and regional security, lead to the weakening of international non-proliferation and arms control system, undermining global strategic stability.” (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 22. Russian military drills to begin as UK holds talks over Ukraine. With concerns growing, and tensions rising, over Russia’s presence on Ukraine’s borders, it has emerged military drills will be taking place as the UK makes diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation. Russia and Belarus are taking joint action over 10 days in a move described as “escalatory” by the US. It’s also seen as Russia’s biggest deployment to ex-Soviet Belarus since the Cold War, according to Nato. This latest move comes as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson travels to Brussels and Warsaw in support of Nato’s allies. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will also be in Russia to meet politicians. Russia – which annexed Crimea in 2014 – has consistently denied planning an invasion in Ukraine despite having more than 100,000 troops at the border. Moscow says its concerns lie with Nato, and it wants an assurance Ukraine will not be allowed to join the military alliance.
“What we need to see is real diplomacy, not coercive diplomacy,” says Mr Johnson. It’s a point reiterated by Ms Truss, who ahead of a meeting with her Russian counterpart later, says: “Diplomacy is the only way forward and Russia must pursue that path.” Russia faces “severe consequences” if it doesn’t back down, she adds. However, Russia blames what it describes as “the Anglo-Saxon nations” for escalating tensions. The country’s EU ambassador, Vladimir Chizhov, says his country still believes diplomacy could de-escalate the crisis . But he does warn Nato allies “not to provoke Russia into changing its mind”. The key aim of all these talks, says our diplomatic correspondent James Landale, is to maintain pressure on Russia while reassuring allies in Nato, retaining Western unity and keeping the door open to a non-military solution. (Source: BBC)
11 Feb 22. India Bans Import of Foreign Drones. The Indian Government on Wednesday banned import of foreign drones with certain exceptions as part of efforts to promote domestic manufacturing of drones in the country. Import of drones for R&D, defence and security purposes have been exempted from the ban but such imports will require due clearances.
“Import of drone components, however, shall not require any approvals,” the civil aviation ministry said in a release on Wednesday.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under the commerce and industry ministry has issued a notification banning the import of foreign drones.
“Import policy for drones in CBU (Completely Built Up)/CKD (Completely Knocked Down)/SKD (Semi Knocked Down ) form… is prohibited with exceptions provided for R and D, defence and security purposes,” DGFT said.
Import of drones by government entities, educational institutions recognised by central or state government, government recognised R&D entities and drone manufacturers for R&D purpose will be allowed in CBU, SKD or CKD form. This will be subject to import authorisation issued by DGFT in consultation with concerned line ministries.
Import of drones for defence and security purposes will be allowed in CBU, SKD or CKD form subject to import authorisation issued by DGFT in consultation with concerned line ministries. The civil aviation ministry said that in order to promote Made in India drones, import of foreign drones has been prohibited with effect from February 9, 2022. The ministry came out with liberalised drone rules in August 2021. After the rules, the ministry issued the drone airspace map and PLI scheme in September 2021, UTM policy framework in October 2021. Besides, drone certification scheme and single window DigitalSky Platform were put in place last month. The notification was made on February 9, 2022 and is in sync with the Finance Act, 2021. See notification here on the DGFT portal. (Source: UAS VISION)
10 Feb 22. Indonesia looks to French industry to supply new fighter jets, attack submarines. The Indonesian and French defense ministries agreed on two major equipment contracts that will bring Dassault fighter jets and Naval Group attack submarines into Jakarta’s air force and navy.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly announced Thursday Indonesia had ordered up to 42 new Rafale jets for its air force, becoming the seventh export nation to commit to the Dassault Aviation-made aircraft. The announcement comes as the minister concludes a visit with officials in Jakarta, and follows two years of discussions and months of negotiations.
“France is proud to contribute to the modernization of the armed forces of our partner, who plays a key role in ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and in the Indo-Pacific,” Parly said in a statement on Twitter.
Later on Thursday, the U.S. government announced it also had approved a possible sale of up to 36 F-15ID fighters and related equipment to Indonesia.
The French contract, which includes an initial six jets and a commitment to procure 36 more, is worth $8.1bn, according to reporting by Reuters. The deal includes aircrew training, logistical support for several Indonesian air bases, and a training center with two full-mission simulators, per a Dassault statement. The jets will be produced in Dassault’s French facilities. French companies Thales and Safran Aircraft Engines also help to build the aircraft.
Three countries decided in 2021 to add the Rafale to their rosters. In January 2021, Greece announced its plans to acquire 18 jets, including six new aircraft and 12 secondhand models. In late November, Croatia chose to procure 12 secondhand aircraft; just a couple of weeks later the United Arab Emirates ordered 80 Rafale jets. Egypt, Qatar and India also operate the Dassault fighter jet.
The two meaty Rafale deals with the UAE and Indonesia come at a notable time, as a long-awaited industry agreement for the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program seems stalled. The top industry contractors for the program are Dassault, representing France, along with Germany’s Airbus and Spain’s Indra.
Spanish industry officials said in November that the contract was in the final stages of fine-tuning. Observers noted at the end of the year that the UAE contract for Rafale jets could strengthen Dassault’s hand in the ongoing FCAS negotiations regarding the development of the next-generation fighter jet.
The potential U.S. fighter sale to Indonesia, which could be worth $13.9bn, would also include up to 87 General Electric or Pratt & Whitney F110 engines, including 15 spares, as well as multiple other radars, targeting pods, weapons and other equipment. Boeing in St. Louis, Missouri, would be the principal contractor on the sale.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on Thursday about that possible sale.
This is not the first time in recent months the State Department has approved a weapons purchase for a nation that had already struck a similar deal with France. In December 2021, State approved two potential deals with Greece for frigate construction and modernization in its Hellenic Navy. That announcement came after a September deal France had struck with Greece, worth about $3.4bn, to sell three frigates from France’s naval group, with an option for a fourth ship later.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Navy could eventually take ownership of two Scorpène-class, diesel-electric attack submarines. Officials from the France-based Naval Group – which co-developed the submarine with Spain’s Navantia – and Jakarta’s state-owned ship manufacturer PT PAL signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday to build the boats in Indonesia under a technology transfer agreement. A formal contract has not yet been signed, a Naval Group spokesperson told Defense News.
The deal comes months after the news broke that Australia would pull out of a AUS$90 billion contract for Naval Group-built submarines, to instead join the United States and United Kingdom in a defense technology-sharing agreement that would include nuclear-powered attack submarines. French government and industry leaders were reportedly blindsided by the new “AUKUS” trinational partnership.
(Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 22. Indonesia orders 42 Rafale jets from France. Indonesia will order 42 Rafale fighter jets, French Defence Minister Florence Parly, who is currently on a trip to the Asian country, confirmed on Thursday.
“It’s official: Indonesia orders 42 Rafales”, she said in a Tweet, saying the order would make Indonesia the second state in the region to rely on the jet produced by Dassault Aviation (AM.PA).
Dassault Aviation said the deal marked the start of a long-term partnership and would allow it to rapidly step up its presence in Indonesia.
The deal comes as Paris, which views itself as a global maritime power, seeks to expand its geopolitical ties in the Indo-Pacific to react to the creation of a new strategic alliance between the U.S., Britain and Australia.
“Indonesia also commits to cooperation with our industry in the sector of submarines,” added Parly, referring to an area deemed as particularly sensitive after Australia last year cancelled a multi-billion submarine deal with Paris, causing a major diplomatic rift. read more
“Our strategic partnership will benefit from the deepening of our defence relations,” added Parly, commenting on the deal with Indonesia. (Source: Reuters)
08 Feb 22. China vows to take powerful measures against US’ latest arms sale to Taiwan island. China on Tuesday vowed to take countermeasures after the US announced a plan to sell $100m worth of Patriot missile upgrades to the island of Taiwan, which would be the first US arms sale to the island in 2022 and the second under the Biden administration. The arms sale, again leeching money from Taiwan, will not bring safety to “Taiwan independence” secessionists but instead push the island further toward catastrophe, said experts. The sales of weapons by the US to China’s Taiwan severely violates the one-China principle and the regulations of the three Joint Communiqués between China and the US, especially those in the August 17 communiqué, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular press conference on Tuesday.
It severely harms China’s sovereignty and security interests, China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, Zhao said. “China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this.”
China urged the US to abide by the one-China principle and regulations of the three Joint Communiqués, cancel the arms sale plan immediately and cut off military ties with Taiwan, Zhao said.
China will take proper, powerful measures to resolutely safeguard our sovereignty and security interests, Zhao said.
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson at the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Tuesday that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority is seeking “independence” and making provocations by colluding with external forces, abusing the hard-earned money of the people in Taiwan to buy US weapons, but this cannot save “Taiwan independence” forces’ destiny of doom and will only escalate tensions in the Taiwan Straits and push Taiwan into catastrophe.
The remarks by Zhao and Ma come after the Pentagon announced on Monday that it approved a possible $100 million sale of equipment and services to the island of Taiwan to “sustain, maintain, and improve” its Patriot missile defense system, Reuters reported on the day.
A statement from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said it had delivered the required certification notifying Congress following State Department approval for the sale, Reuters reported, noting that the main contractors would be Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin. This will be the first US arms sale to Taiwan in 2022, and the second under the Biden administration, following the $750 million sale of M109A6 self-propelled howitzers plus related equipment and services announced in August 2021.
Zheng Jian, director of the National Taiwan Research Association and a chair professor at the Graduate Institute for Taiwan Studies of Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the US is trying to upset China while it is hosting the Winter Olympics.
Such arms sales cannot bring safety to “Taiwan independence” secessionists but instead invite more military pressure from the Chinese mainland, Zheng said.
This is also not the first time the island of Taiwan has paid for upgrades for Patriot missiles. In July 2020, the US announced the approval of an arms deal to Taiwan the recertification of Patriot air defense missiles for $620 million.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the US is using Patriot missiles to leech money from Taiwan, since the missiles would need constant upgrades and maintenance.
The US wants to earn more money and boost “Taiwan independence” secessionists’ ambitions at the same time, but does not care if the weapons are useful against the Chinese mainland, Song said. (Source: https://www.globaltimes.cn/)
08 Feb 22. Saudi Arabia launches defence sector capability development strategy. Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) launched the country’s first Military Industries Human Capital (MIHC) strategy on 6 February. The MIHC has six strategic objectives to help develop the country’s domestic defence industrial knowledge base: enabling the sector through supporting policies and regulations; enhancing the level of professionalism, skills, and excellence within the sector’s human capital development; empowering research and innovation in defence; assuring the availability of requisite and sustainable human capital; developing digital capabilities; and encouraging participation among stakeholders in planning, training, and funding. The strategy will also contribute to military technology and production transfer to the kingdom, as well as the expansion and establishment of local manufacturing companies. According to GAMI, the organisation will achieve these goals through education and training, awareness and guidelines, and policy formation. Priority initiatives to be undertaken include broadening technical training programmes, offering defence-related academic scholarships, expanding defence-related disciplines at university level, introducing specialised training programmes, and empowering women in defence. (Source: Janes)
08 Feb 22. Arab-Israeli missile defense has a shot, says CENTCOM nominee. In the wake of recent missile and drone attacks against the United Arab Emirates by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, there’s a fresh opportunity to integrate air and missile defense in the Middle East, the nominee to lead U.S. Central Command told lawmakers Tuesday. Both Israel’s recent incorporation into Central Command’s area of responsibility and its newly normalized relations with Bahrain and the UAE offer possibilities for regional security cooperation against Iran and its proxies, according to Army Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla. That cooperation could focus on cybersecurity and missile defense capabilities.
“That’s probably the area with some of the greatest opportunity: working toward an integrated air and missile defense. I think the addition of Israel … will help with that,” said Kurilla, who currently leads the 18th Airborne Corps and is likely to be confirmed in the coming days. “We are collectively stronger together, and there are areas where each one brings unique capabilities.”
Negotiations were underway for the sale of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system (which the U.S. co-developed) to the UAE, Israel’s Channel 13 news reported last week. While neither Kurilla nor lawmakers confirmed that at Tuesday’s hearing, Kurilla said Israel has the ability to “do some partnerships in terms of increasing the capability” of others to defend against attacks.
Kurilla also touted the system’s 90% interception rate during U.S. Army testing for its own adoption.
Still, the U.S. is not the only country deepening its Mideast ties. Among lawmakers who warned of China’s growing sway with America’s Middle Eastern partners, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., noted that Saudi Arabia has bought Chinese ballistic missiles and makes its own ballistic weapons using Chinese technology.
To that, Kurilla said he is worried about China’s expanding tech partnerships, noting that three of the top countries purchasing Chinese drones are in the Mideast and that five countries there have forged agreements with Chinese telecom firm Huawei. “I am very concerned with China’s military involvement [and] these agreements,” he said.
The testimony came days after the U.S. military launched Patriot interceptor missiles during an attack by Iranian-backed Houthis that targeted the UAE ― reflecting widening American involvement in Yemen’s yearslong war, despite U.S. President Joe Biden declaring nearly a year ago the war “has to end.”
While the U.S. has ended offensive support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting on behalf of Yemen’s exiled government, its involvement in defending the UAE comes as the Houthis declared Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi a target. Al Dhafra hosts some 2,000 American troops and has served as a major base of operations for everything from armed drones to F-35 stealth fighters.
Asked about the origin of Houthi missiles, Kurilla said they are funded by Iran but that he could not say definitively whether the Houthis intended to target American troops.
Highlighting those attacks, Republicans at the hearing criticized the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which then-President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. The Biden administration recently eased some sanctions against Iran to help advance talks with the government.
In an exchange with the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Kurilla acknowledged that lifting economic pressure on Iran carries the risk “that Iran would use some of that money to support its proxies and terrorism in the region. And if they did, it could increase risk to our forces in the region.”
Kurilla would replace retiring Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, who oversaw the final days of the war in Afghanistan. Kurilla previously commanded the 82nd Airborne Division and served as CENTCOM’s chief of staff.
McKenzie reportedly warned last week that Iran has spent several years growing its ballistic missile stockpile along with fleets of drones and land-attack cruise missiles.
“For the last five to seven years, Iran has relentlessly built its theater ballistic missile capabilities. These are surface-to-surface missiles that have ranges that can go as far as Israel, for some of their missiles,” McKenzie reportedly said. “But they have several thousands of these missiles, and they have assiduously cultivated this force … even at the fact of starving their own people to ensure that the engineers, the factories that generate these missiles, have the resources they need to do it.”
In an exchange with Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Kurilla said that when the U.S. exposes “the Iranian hand” behind militant groups in the region, it can deter Iran’s actions for a time.
“Iranian aligned militia groups that are either firing rockets at our embassy in Iraq, they’re firing at our troops inside of Syria, they support the Houthis, and they’re providing that technology to them to fire ballistic missiles into the UAE and into Saudi Arabia,” Kurilla said.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., told Kurilla he thinks missile defense “would be one of the most urgent priorities you face, as far as making sure that we have the resources we need, but also working with our partners to help them.”
“As Iran is emboldened, I don’t think it’s going to decrease,” Cotton said of missile attacks. “I think it’s going to increase.” (Source: Defense News)
07 Feb 22. U.S. think tank identifies North Korea base likely intended for ICBMs. A Washington think tank says it has identified a military base close to North Korea’s border with China that is likely intended for stationing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies based its report on Jan. 21 satellite images of the base at Hoejung-ni, in North Korea’s Chagang province about 25 km (16 miles) from the border with China and 280 km (175 miles) northeast of Pyongyang.
“The Hoejung-ni missile operating base will, according to informed sources, likely house a regiment-sized unit equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the report said.
“Should operational ICBMs not become available in the near term, it is likely that intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) will be deployed,” the report added, noting that North Korea tested a Hwasong-12 IRBM from Chagang province last month.
It said Hoejung-ni was one of approximately 20 ballistic missile bases that have never been declared by North Korea and that although its construction began 20 years ago, it was one of the latest to be completed.
Analysts say stationing ICBMs so close to China would make any pre-emptive strike against them difficult because of the risk of hitting Chinese territory.
The CSIS report comes after a slew of recent North Korean missile tests that have raised fears that the country may resume ICBM tests. North Korea has suggested it could restart such tests suspended since 2017 because the United States has shown no sign of dropping “hostile policies”.
Asked about the CSIS report, a spokesman for the U.S. defense department, Lieutenant Colonel Marty Meiners, declined to comment on “matters of intelligence or commercial imagery analysis.”
“However, we have been very clear on the threat posed by (North Korea’s) missile programs, and our commitment to the defense of (South Korea), Japan, and the U.S. homeland, and our commitment to uphold regional peace and stability,” he said.
On Saturday, Reuters obtained an excerpt of a confidential United Nations report that said North Korea had continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in the past year and cyberattacks were an important revenue source for Pyongyang in the face of international sanctions. read more
CSIS said there were no signs of an ICBM unit at the base as of January and no protective anti-aircraft positions could been seen within 10 km (6 miles), while the nearest “readily identifiable” surface-to-air missile base was 50 km (30 miles) away.
However, it said its images showed Hoejung-ni to be active and well maintained by North Korean standards and that minor development of its infrastructure was continuing.
The images showed two hardened drive-through missile checkout facilities used for missile arming, fueling, systems checkout and maintenance operations, CSIS said.
Each facility consisted of a large concrete-reinforced shelter cut into the side of the adjacent mountain measuring about 35 meters (yards) in length long, sufficiently large to accommodate all known North Korean mobile missile launchers. (Source: Reuters)
07 Feb 22. Putin Continues to Add Military Capabilities Along Ukraine’s Borders. Russian leader Vladimir Putin continues to add to the military formations aligned on Ukraine’s borders, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a news conference today.
American and European leaders still do not know if Putin will invade Ukraine again, and Kirby urged the Russian leader to de-escalate the situation by pulling the troops from Russia’s border with Ukraine and those in Belarus also posed on Ukraine’s border.
Kirby said none of the Russian troops in the region — well in excess of 100,000 — are posed directly at NATO’s Eastern flank allies.
It is not just the number of troops that Putin has placed in the region, but the capabilities he is adding, the press secretary said. “We could not say with specificity now, a) that made a final decision one way or another, or b) if he does, what it’s going to be,” Kirby said. “But with each passing day, he gives himself a lot more options from a military perspective.”
Russia is adding “robust” combined arms capabilities. “That means not just infantry or tracked vehicles, but artillery and long-range fires, and air and missile defense, as well as special operations,” Kirby said. “He has a full suite available to him, and it continues to grow every day, including just over the last two days.”
Kirby said the movement of a 1,000-soldier Stryker squadron to Romania is finished, as is the movement of an 18th Airborne Corps headquarters to Germany. A “few hundred” 82nd Airborne soldiers have moved to Poland from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Around 1,700 soldiers will deploy to Poland in the coming days.
The American troops are arriving on station now and they are setting up, Kirby said. Once this is done, “I would expect you to see them … conduct some exercises with their … partners in Romania and Poland,” he said.
With all the Russian military posturing along its borders with Ukraine, there is still time and space for diplomacy, Kirby said. “We still believe there’s a diplomatic path forward that should and can be pursued,” he said. “And Mr. Putin can easily de-escalate … the tensions by just taking some of that force presence away, which is certainly within his power to do that.” (Source: US DoD)
08 Feb 22. France says Vladimir Putin is moving towards de-escalating Ukraine crisis. Russia’s president agrees not to undertake new military initiatives in region, according to Paris Vladimir. Putin did not refer directly to a deal at a news conference after five hours of talks with Emmanuel Macron on Monday. French officials said Vladimir Putin had moved towards de-escalating the Ukraine crisis by promising not to undertake any new “military initiatives” and agreeing to withdraw thousands of Russian troops from Belarus after the completion of planned exercises. If the agreement — brokered during talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Monday — is confirmed by Putin, it could ease tensions in the region after Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the Financial Times that Putin and Macron were “prepared to continue dialogue” on the French proposals but that the discussions had yet to fully assuage Moscow’s concerns. “All these subjects require agreement from France’s EU and Nato allies, first and foremost the US,” Peskov said. “It’s too early to speak about anything else.” Neither Putin nor Macron referred directly to such a deal at a news conference after five hours of talks, although France’s president said his Russian counterpart had assured him of his willingness to talk about de-escalation. Putin was instead combative and critical of Nato, blaming the west and Ukraine for the crisis, but said Russia would do “everything possible to reach compromises acceptable to everyone” on European security. “I think it’s entirely likely that some of his ideas and suggestions, even if it’s probably too early to talk about them, could become part of the basis for our next joint steps,” Putin said of Macron’s proposals. Russia is demanding Nato pledge never to admit Ukraine and roll back its eastward expansion, essentially rewriting the entire post-cold war security order in Europe. Western officials have said those requests were unacceptable but have attempted to find common ground with Moscow on other issues, such as arms control. Macron, who is set to meet Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, in Kyiv on Tuesday acknowledged the deep differences between Russia and the west over the Ukraine conflict and said the sides were looking for “new solutions” to ensure security and stability. “We are conscious of the gravity of the situation and the imperative need in the interest of all to find the path of preserving peace and stability in Europe,” Macron said after the talks. “There is still time.” According to French officials, there was an agreement not to undertake new military initiatives and to have a broad dialogue on Russian troop deployments. Recommended Gideon Rachman Putin, Ukraine and the madman theory of diplomacy The officials said the agreement would also include the withdrawal of Russian troops from Belarus this month after the conclusion of huge joint exercises involving a contingent of as many as 30,000. It will also result in further meetings and an agreement on a “structured dialogue on collective security”. Macron said the aim was to build “concrete security guarantees” for all the states in the region, including Russia, Ukraine and the members of the EU, which would allow the building of a “new security and stability order in Europe”. The leaders began their negotiations sitting alone at opposite ends of an enormous oval table, which the Kremlin said was a social-distancing precaution, before moving on to a lavish dinner that included langoustines, Russian fish soup and a choice of sturgeon or venison. The wine on offer was from a vineyard on the Black Sea that jailed opposition activist Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most prominent opponent, has claimed is part of a lavish palace complex allegedly built for the president’s use. Putin has denied owning the palace. (Source: FT.com)
07 Feb 22. Russia deploys Su-25SM jets to Belarus from Far East. Russian Sukhoi Su-25SM ‘Frogfoot’ ground attacks jets have arrived in Belarus in a rare deployment of aviation assets from Russia’s Far East to the European country, which is closely allied to Moscow. Russian land, air, and air defence forces from the Eastern Military District have been arriving in Belarus since early January as part of a build-up that NATO governments have said threatens neighbouring Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defence has denied it plans to attack Ukraine and says Exercise ‘Allied Resolve 2022′ is a test of the Eastern Military District long-distance deployment capabilities, including the rapid re-positioning of aviation assets. A joint Russian-Belarus rapid reaction force is being tested during the exercise, according to Moscow. The ministry announced the deployment of the attack jets on 5 February, saying the aircraft would be participating in joint training with the Belarus armed forces. (Source: Janes)
07 Feb 22. Chinese military equipment boost for SAMIM. SAMIM (Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique) will, during the course of the year, receive as yet unspecified Chinese military aid. The African Union (AU) said in a communique issued post a meeting by its Peace and Security Council (PSC) that the regional bloc mission, widely reported as being under-equipped and manned, would “provide substantial additional equipment from the second batch of military aid” being donated by the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) to the AU to support the efforts of SAMIM. The “aid” is not specified in the communique, which states it is made to the continental body. No delivery date is given with the communique only stating it is “expected to be delivered to Nakala (Nacala) port in Mozambique during 2022”. The north coast city port is the deepest natural harbour on Africa’s east coast. SAMIM can expect other assistance, also in the form of equipment, from the continental body. Again, the PSC communique gives no detail, apart from stating “required equipment already identified at the Continental Logistics Base (CLB) in Douala, Cameroon” will support SAMIM and ensure effective implementation of SAMIM’s mandate and tasks. The PSC further appeals to all AU member states “as well as the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and the broader international community to extend support to SAMIM and Mozambique through provision of requisite materials, technical and financial resources”. SAMIM presently comprises troops from eight SADC countries – Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. A thousand-strong contingent from Rwanda is also in the east African country supporting the Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique (FADM) in an ongoing effort to remove ASWJ (Al Sunnah Wa Jama’ah) from Cabo Delgado. SAMIM has been in the east African country for over six months and will remain there for an as yet unspecified period of time. This is as per a decision of the SADC Heads of State and Government Summit last month. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
07 Feb 22. Ukraine asks Germany for ‘defensive’ weapons amid Russia standoff. Unlike its NATO allies Britain and the US, Germany has refused to send arms to Ukraine to help the country defend itself from possible Russian aggression. Kyiv wants Berlin to change that policy and send weapons. Ukraine has sent an official request to the German government for support in the form of “defensive” weapons, according to a newspaper report.
In a letter cited by Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Ukrainian Embassy appealed to Berlin for a swift response, given the “extremely tense security situation and the threat of Russian aggression.”
Moscow has deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine’s border, leading to fears it is planning to invade its smaller neighbor. NATO has also warned of large numbers of Russian soldiers amassing in Belarus.
Russia denies it is planning an invasion. It has demanded a number of security guarantees from the West, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO and that the military alliance pull back its forces from eastern Europe.In response to the Russian demands, NATO and the United States have said both points are non-starters and instead offered further talks on missile and troop reductions.
In the letter quoted by the Süddeutsche, Ukraine makes a number of specific requests for “defensive” material, including medium-range anti-aircraft missile systems, portable surface-to-air missiles, anti-drone rifles, electronic tracking systems, night vision equipment, surveillance cameras and ammunition.
Kyiv is seeking “immediate assistance in the urgent acquisition” of “weapons systems of a defensive nature,” the letter says, according to the newspaper.
Germany rules out weapons deliveries
NATO allies the US, the UK and the Baltic states have sent arms to Ukraine. But Germany has made it clear it will not follow suit. So far, Berlin has offered 5,000 protective helmets and said that it favors a diplomatic solution.
The German government, made up of the center-left SPD, the Greens and the business-focused Free Democrats (FDP), have a restrictive arms export policy that does not allow weapons deliveries to crisis regions. The same policbi
But there have been calls for a rethink of Germany’s arms export policy.
“Let’s open a debate on whether Germany should have a shift in this position,” Viola von Cramon, a member of the European Parliament for the Greens and vice chair of the parliament’s Ukraine delegation, told DW.
She also said Germany should take a harder line with Russia, and voiced concerns about Turkey’s offer to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv.
“I’m more concerned that in the end an autocrat, a non-democrat like [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan will get more influence in this region, in Ukraine, than we Europeans,” she said. “It’s clearly in our interest to keep Ukraine on this Western integration path.”
Double strategy in Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week defended the decision not to send weapons to Ukraine and said his government was pursuing a double strategy: promising crippling sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine and offering talks over ways to calm the situation.
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, deputy chairperson of the FDP parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, told DW weapons exports wouldn’t make a big difference anyway.
“We have a situation in which the Ukrainian armed forces are militarily inferior to the Russian armed forces by a factor that could never be made up by arms deliveries,” he said.
“We have offered support for their cyberdefenses, we have offered military training to officers from the Ukrainian armed forces, we have sent a field hospital to Ukraine, we are supporting the country economically and politically, so there are a number of ways in which Germans support Ukraine, its territorial integrity, its political sovereignty,” he said.
In Germany, 71% of people said they opposed providing German weapons to Ukraine and 20% were in favor, according to an Infratest dimap poll conducted for the German ARD public broadcaster and published Thursday.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to travel to Ukraine next week, while Chancellor Scholz will head there later in the month,, after visiting US President Joe Biden next week. (Source: https://www.dw.com/)
07 Feb 22. Israel, Bahrain sign defence collaboration MoU. Israel and Bahrain have signed a defence collaboration memorandum of understanding (MoU) during a visit by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz to the Gulf kingdom on 3 February. According to a release by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MoU framework will support intelligence sharing, military-to-military co-operation, defence industrial collaboration, and more.
“We have reached new heights today in Israel-Bahrain relations with the important meetings that took place and with the signing of the historic MoU. We are building on the groundbreaking Abraham Accords and deepening ties between our nations. Only one year following the signing of the [Abraham] Accords, we have achieved an important defence agreement, which will contribute to the security of both countries and the stability of the region,” Gantz said in a statement. (Source: Janes)
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