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20 Jan 22. UK defence procurement spend worth almost £2bn a year to Scotland. New figures today (January 20, 2022) show Ministry of Defence (MOD) expenditure with industry and commerce in Scotland in 2020/21 was £1.989bn. UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “These figures show that defence not only plays a crucial part in the security of the United Kingdom but also contributes significantly to delivering high-skilled jobs and investment in Scotland, not least through shipbuilding. The prosperity generated by defence employment in Scotland and around the UK, alongside our Plan for Jobs, is helping us build back better from the pandemic.”
Defence investment in Scottish shipbuilding will see order books full until the 2030s.
Over the last 15 years, Scotland has delivered six Type 45 destroyers, two aircraft carriers, five offshore patrol vessels and already has orders for eight Type 26 frigates from BAE Systems at Govan and five Type 31s from Babcock’s just-completed Frigate Hall at Rosyth.
Last year, steel was cut on two more ships for the Royal Navy (HMS Belfast in Glasgow and HMS Venturer in Rosyth).
Defence’s footprint in Scotland also includes the Ministry of Defence directly employing around 4,000 civilian staff.
The Future Soldier programme announced a £335m investment in the Army’s Scots estate, which is expected to unleash £1bn in wider economic benefit.
And last week, the ninth submarine hunting Poseidon aircraft – vital to maintaining the security of the UK and our NATO allies – arrived at RAF Lossiemouth.
Lossiemouth will also see its ranks rise by around 500 in preparation for the arrival of the E-7 Wedgetail, the RAF’s new early warning and control aircraft.
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/mod-regional-expenditure-with-uk-industry-and-supported-employment-202021 (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
20 Jan 22. Europe threatens ‘massive’ sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine. The European Union threatened “massive” economic sanctions if Moscow attacks Ukraine, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rallied allies on Thursday ahead of last-ditch crisis talks with Russia aimed at preventing war.
Western countries are seeking to present a united diplomatic front before Blinken meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, widely seen as one of the last chances to stop Russia from launching a new attack.
Blinken visited Kyiv on Wednesday and met German, French and British ministers on Thursday in Berlin. On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden gave his clearest indication yet that he believes a Russian attack is likely.
“My guess is he will move in,” Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He has to do something.”
Western countries say they fear Russia is planning a new assault against Ukraine, nearly eight years after its forces entered Ukraine and seized the Crimea peninsula. Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border in recent months. It denies planning an attack but says it could take unspecified military action unless a list of demands are met, including a promise from NATO never to admit Kyiv.
Biden and other Western leaders have threatened to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia if it attacks Ukraine again. Russia, under sanctions since 2014, has largely brushed off the threat.
‘WE ARE PREPARED’
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who heads the EU executive, said Europe would respond to a new attack “with massive economic and financial sanctions. The transatlantic community stands firm in this.”
“We do not accept Russia’s attempt to divide Europe into spheres of influence,” she said. “If attacks happen, we are prepared.”
The Kremlin said on Thursday that U.S. warnings of possible disastrous consequences for Russia would not help reduce tensions over Ukraine and could even destabilise the situation further.
Blinken vowed in Kyiv on Wednesday that Washington would pursue diplomacy as long as it could. In Berlin, he will give a speech that will try to cast the crisis over Ukraine as a critical moment for the rules-based international order, a State Department official said.
Moscow presented the West with a list of security demands at talks last week that produced no breakthrough.
Repeated rounds of economic sanctions since 2014 have had scant impact on Russian policy, with Moscow, Europe’s main energy supplier, calculating that the West would stop short of steps serious enough to interfere with gas exports. U.S. and European officials say there are still strong financial measures that have not been tried.
Germany signalled on Tuesday that it could halt Nord Stream 2, a new gas pipeline from Russia that skirts Ukraine, if Moscow invades.
Russia has moved troops to Belarus for what it calls joint military exercises, and also has forces based in a breakaway region of Moldova, giving it options to attack Ukraine from four sides. Eight years ago it seized Crimea and backed separatist forces who took control of large parts of eastern Ukraine.
Russia denies planning a new invasion but says it feels menaced by Kyiv’s growing ties with the West. It wants to prevent Ukraine ever joining NATO and for the alliance to pull back troops and weapons from eastern Europe. (Source: Reuters)
19 Jan 22. Germany holds its ground on denying weapons for Ukraine. Officials in Berlin have rejected a renewed request by Ukraine for lethal, defensive equipment in the face of Russia’s massive troop buildup, effectively testing the restrictive arms-export policy enshrined in the government’s coalition agreement. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told German press agency DPA on Wednesday his country is seeking warships to help defend its Black Sea and the Sea of Asov coasts in the event of a Russian invasion. Germany’s ships, he was quoted as saying, “are among the best in the world.”
But a government spokesman reiterated Germany’s unwillingness the same day, noting how Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had rejected similar asks earlier this week, local media reported. During a visit to Kyiv, Baerbock cited historical reasons as playing a role in Germany’s position, a reference to the Nazi regime’s atrocities against the Soviet Union during World War II.
Ukraine and the West worry another Russian move into Ukraine is imminent, following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and ongoing fighting in the country’s east since then. Diplomacy so far has failed to calm tensions, with NATO pushing back against Russia’s demand that Ukraine never be admitted into the alliance.
That leaves the military option of supporting Ukraine with weapons in hopes of deterring a Russian invasion or, if that fails, making the fighting costly enough for Russia to reconsider. Earlier this week, for example, the British sent short-range, anti-tank weapons with that calculus in mind. The U.S. government also has a $200 m package of defensive military aid pending, the Associated Press reported.
The Russian government has said there are no plans to invade Ukraine, describing its massive troop buildup on the border as a “sovereign right.”
Germany’s new government has made overhauling its arms-export policies to be more restrained an explicit objective of its defense agenda, including on a European Union level. Resistance is forming within the coalition ranks, however, in the case of Ukraine, with some politicians arguing the prospect of preventing a war there should factor into the decision. A new Ukrainian military assessment sees preparations for war continuing on the Russian side, Military Times reported, citing the positioning of medium-range Iskander missiles near the border, some within striking distance of Kyiv. (Source: Defense News)
19 Jan 22. Foreign and Defence Secretaries visit Australia for AUKMIN. The Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary are in Australia for meetings with Foreign Minister Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will visit Australia this week, as the UK forges closer defence and security ties with the nation.
Truss begins the first leg of an official visit to Australia today, using her trip to focus on economic, security and technology interests as well as standing up against malign aggressors.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will join the Foreign Secretary in Sydney to hold talks with their counterparts, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton.
In the first AUKMIN since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ministers will discuss security and defence capability, building on AUKUS, and commit to tackling state and hybrid threats and jointly supporting maritime security.
The visit comes in the face of growing aggression from Russia, which is waging to destabilise and threaten its sovereign neighbour Ukraine, and increasing threats in the Indo-Pacific. It also comes during crucial days for the Tongan relief effort, as the UK works urgently with Australian and New Zealand counterparts to support those affected.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “With malign forces threatening global peace and stability it is vital that close allies like the UK and Australia show robust vigilance in defence of freedom and democracy. The AUKUS partnership between the UK, Australia and the United States is a clear demonstration of how we will defend our values, protect trade routes and increase stability across the Indo-Pacific. In Australia, I will be strengthening our economic, diplomatic and security ties – making our country safer and more competitive – in order to win the battle for ideas as part of our network of liberty.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The UK and Australia share one of the oldest and strongest Defence and security alliances. Operating and exercising side by side, we continue to work together to promote stability, and tackle our shared threats with our like-minded ally head on.”
Truss will also agree to closer cooperation with Australia to boost opportunities for honest and reliable infrastructure investment for Indo-Pacific states – to end strategic dependency on malign actors in the areas of energy, investment and technology.
And on technology, the Foreign Secretary will discuss how best to strengthen global technology supply chains and tackle malign actors who disrupt cyber-space.
On the second leg of the visit, the Foreign Secretary will travel to Adelaide to build on the recently signed free trade deal, including by signing an agreement to boost UK-Australia business links for key industries including space, cyber, science and technology with the State of South Australia. This is alongside the UK’s work to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Truss will also be visiting the BAE Systems shipyard to see how British business expertise is responsible for building frigates for the Australian Navy. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
19 Jan 22. Denmark’s F-16s to deploy for Nato’s eAP mission in Lithuania. The jets and 70 personnel will join Polish and Belgian F-16s and operate out of Šiauliai Air Base. Denmark is set to deploy four of its F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania in support of Nato’s enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission in the Baltic States. The latest move comes within two months after the last Nato Air Policing deployment concluded in Lithuania. The aircraft and 70 members are going to operate out of Šiauliai Air Base and will be controlled by Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Uedem. According to Nato statement, the jets will join Polish and Belgian F-16s in the region and fly sorties securing the airspace above Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
The jets will provide Nato with an eAP capability to carry out the mission and ensure ‘deterrence and defence’ on Nato’s north-eastern flank. Nato deputy spokesperson Piers Cazalet said: “We welcome the decision by Denmark to offer additional fighter jets to Nato’s air policing mission in the Baltic States. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
18 Jan 22. Germany signals it could halt gas pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine.
• Blinken to visit Kyiv on Wednesday
• German foreign minister holds talks in Russia
• Russia has massed troops near Ukraine’s borders
• Russia to hold joint military drills with Belarus
Germany signalled on Tuesday that it could halt the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia if Moscow invades Ukraine, and Western nations rallied behind Kyiv over a Russian troop buildup that has stoked fears of war.
Stepping up diplomacy after talks with Russia ended in stalemate last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Kyiv on Wednesday before heading to Berlin to discuss “joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine” with German, British and French officials.
As fears of conflict rose, Britain said this week it had begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, Canada’s foreign minister visited Ukraine and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock held talks in Moscow and Kyiv to try to ease tensions.
Baerbock warned that Moscow would suffer if it does attack its neighbour, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz signalled that Berlin’s response might include stopping the Nord Stream 2 pipeline bringing gas to Germany.
Asked about the pipeline after meeting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Scholz said it was “clear that there will be a high price to pay and that everything will have to be discussed should there be a military intervention in Ukraine”.
Scholz has previously said Germany is open to sanctions in the event of a Russian attack and that everything would be on the table. This would include Nord Stream 2, which has been built but has not yet secured approval to open.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting Baerbock on Tuesday that the pipeline would increase European energy security when it is open, and that “attempts to politicise this project” would be counter-productive.
Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine but says it could take unspecified military action unless its demands – including a promise by the NATO alliance never to admit Kyiv – are met.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops remain near Ukraine’s borders and Moscow has also sent troops and military hardware to Belarus this week in preparation for drills with its close ally that have caused further concern in the West.
The tensions have helped push the Russian rouble down against the U.S. dollar and Russian stocks have fallen. read more
MORE NATO-RUSSIA TALKS
In Berlin, Stoltenberg said he had invited NATO allies and Russia to a further series of meetings at the NATO-Russia Council to discuss ways to improve the security situation, after an inconclusive first round of talks in two years last week.
“NATO’s allies are prepared to discuss concrete proposals on how to reduce risks and enhance transparency regarding military activities and how to reduce space and cyber threats,” he told a joint news conference with Scholz.
“We are also prepared to resume the exchange of briefings on exercises and our respective nuclear policies.”
Although the West is rallying behind Ukraine, the former Soviet republic is not a NATO member and it has no treaty obligations to defend it. U.S. President Joe Biden has ruled out sending U.S. troops to Ukraine to fight Russian soldiers.
Following up on last week’s talks with Russia, which produced no breakthrough, Blinken will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv on Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said.
“The United States does not want conflict. We want peace,” a senior U.S. State Department official told reporters.
“(Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin has it in his power to take steps to de-escalate this crisis so the United States and Russia can pursue a relationship that is not based on hostility or crisis,” the official said.
Blinken spoke with Lavrov on Tuesday and urged de-escalation, the State Department said separately. The senior official said the two decided in the call that it would be useful to meet in person.
Visiting Ukraine on Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Ottawa would take a decision at the appropriate time on supplying military hardware to Ukraine. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
18 Jan 22. A Greek F-35 Force Would Be a Game Changer For NATO. Greek F-35s could help deter Russia and contribute to operations in the Middle East. While the weeks leading up to Switzerland and Finland’s decisions to acquire the F-35 were filled with speculation and strategic thinking about NATO’s deterrence posture, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin were entirely silent. This is because even if deliberations regarding potential F-35 customers are happening, the Pentagon is often deliberately silent on the topic.
Nonetheless, the pace of countries announcing plans to acquire F-35 fighters has taken even some F-35 advocates by surprise. This has fueled discussion of the jet becoming the stealth fighter of the “free world” and inspired further speculation over what country will purchase F-35s next.
What about Greece? The country has sent a formal request to the Pentagon to buy up to twenty-four F-35s. For several years now, the question of a Greek F-35 purchase has generated countless reports questioning if Greece can afford the jets or if Lockheed Martin currently has the production capacity to build them. A 2020 report in Air Force Magazine raised the possibility that Greece might be willing to buy used F-35s in order to get them faster or save money.
Regardless of how or when these issues are settled, the prospect of a fleet of Greek F-35s raises more interesting questions about NATO’s posture and capabilities. Recent developments, such as Finland’s choice to acquire its own F-35s, make a Greek F-35 force appear more likely. For instance, a networked force of Finnish, Polish, and Greek F-35s could form a defensive perimeter around eastern Europe to deter Russia. Greek F-35s could threaten Russia from the south, while Finnish and Polish F-35s could cover the north and the center. A southern F-35 force based in Greece could also reach the Black Sea and help defend key eastern allies such a Romania.
Another key variable for a potential Greek F-35 force is entirely separate from any need to deter Russia. Greek F-35s would be within striking reach of the Middle East and could assist in any operations in the region. With Turkey banned from the F-35 program, Greek F-35s could open up a 5th-generation attack corridor into the Middle East.
By mere proximity alone, Greek F-35s could threaten Iran and deter Iranian aggression. In addition, Greek F-35s could lend allied support to Israel’s F-35 force by providing additional 5th-generation “mass” to the IDF. Greece is uniquely suited to take advantage of the F-35’s capabilities. (Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
18 Jan 22. Sweden increases military reinforcements over Russian activity. Some of the measures taken by the Swedish military will be clearly visible in Gotland. The Swedish Armed Forces has confirmed its decision to increase military reinforcements across the country following increased Russian activity. The deployments are intended to enhance the defence operational capabilities across various locations within the country, and follows the current tense situation between Russia and Ukraine. Swedish Armed Forces joint operations chief Michael Claesson said: “The security situation in the vicinity of Sweden has been serious for some time, and the recent developments have further strengthened that picture. This does not necessarily entail an increased threat, but we always adapt to the current situation.”
Sweden is also increasing its reinforcements due to Russian activity in the Baltic Sea. Some of the recent activities were found to be “deviating from the normal picture”. An operational contingency unit with crew and equipment from Norrbotten’s regiment (I 19) is already on the Swedish island.
Claesson added: “All in all, capabilities from all armed forces will be concerned. We will be active in the air, at sea, below the surface, and on land, in various ways and in different geographical locations.”
In November last year, the US-made Patriot air defence missile system, dubbed ‘Air defence system 103 (LvS103)’, was delivered to the Swedish Armed Forces during a handover ceremony. This air defence missile system seeks to strengthen the air defence capability of Sweden. (Source: army-technology.com)
18 Jan 22. Overcoming quantity with quality: Can the British military withstand troop cuts? Under the British government’s force structure plan, Downing Street has resolved to reduce the size of the British Army by 9,500 soldiers to 72,500. Such a reduction marks the smallest British Army since 1714. With a reduction in Royal Navy and Royal Air Force capabilities also expected, how can the United Kingdom leverage qualitative superiority to remain “global”?
Under the British government’s force structure plan, Downing Street has resolved to reduce the size of the British Army by 9,500 soldiers to 72,500 by 2025. Such a reduction marks the smallest British Army since 1714.
To compensate, Downing Street hopes to court a model of qualitative advantage in which smaller units of deployed troops are supported by better technology including robot-human teaming and increased electronic warfare capabilities.
Explaining the shake up, Lieutenant General Ralph Wooddisse, CBE, MC, noted, “Future Soldier is the next step in the evolution of the British Army; it is the most radical change for the British Army in 20 years. It will change the way we fight and operate, and make us more lethal, agile and lean.
“It will be underpinned by changes to structure, technology, and workforce. Future Soldier is fundamentally about ensuring the British Army is a competitive and resilient organisation able to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, wherever they may be.”
Despite this, the British government’s cuts have hit all sectors of defence. Last year it was announced that the Royal Navy would lose an estimated two to three frigates over the next five years, while the RAF is expected to retire the C-130J Hercules next year, reduce the number of Typhoons by 24 and halve the original order of F-35Bs.
Considering these capability reductions, it is not yet evident how the United Kingdom could follow a policy of “increased deployability and technological advantage” (as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace outlines).
To compare Britain’s military footprint to that of a global superpower, in 2019 an image of a Chinese shipyard was posted online in which a single shipyard was constructing nine destroyers. Former Forbes contributor HI Sutton provided a sobering thought: “To put that into context, the Royal Navy’s entire destroyer fleet is just six ships. And this yard is just part of a much bigger construction program.”
However, such cuts to the size of the military have faced political scrutiny.
According to the BBC, the Labour opposition emerged against many of the proposed reforms, saying that “size matters” in the military. An interesting insight given 91 per cent of veterans represented in the House of Commons are members of the Conservative Party.
Writing in War on the Rocks this week, Chris Morris explained that British defence policy has planned for the war it wants rather than the war it will necessarily get.
“This, at least, was Britain’s approach when it drafted its global trends report in 2018. Now, several years into that imagined future, the limitations of such wishful thinking are becoming ever more clear. Rather than realistically confront its budget limitations, the British government remains committed to planning for an unrealistic scenario in which it can cut spending and reduce its conventional forces without sacrificing global military power,” Morris wrote.
In response to this policy, he recommends that the British government “insulate” those undertaking future military projections from the broader government apparatus including those determining budgets and marketing the widespread changes.
However, the UK’s Global Strategic Trends report published in 2018 does possess some crucial strategic insights including the need for a resilient cyber space capability and a strong defence industry capability that can rapidly scale up in times of conflict.
“The construction of a National Cyber Centre, for example, serves as an indication that the United Kingdom believes offensive cyber operations represent an effective, more economical alternative to the use of conventional force. Concurrent investments in space further emphasise that the United Kingdom imagines fighting future wars with different tools,” Morris notes.
“Consistent with this recognition, the 2021 integrated review recommends the United Kingdom also allocate significant funds to the Royal Navy, as well as securing the aspects of British industry needed to support the fleet.”
Nevertheless, these benefits are likely to be eclipsed by the threats posed by large-scale changes in Britain’s force structure and the inability for a nation to speedily undo the impacts of ageing infrastructure and fleets.
“The extent to which these new capabilities can offset the loss of concrete and established capabilities is also uncertain. As many pieces of older equipment age out of service, a clear schedule for replacements is often difficult to determine. The United Kingdom may keenly feel these losses, given that it may see its forces deployed more frequently and for longer periods,” Morris contends.
While admirable that the UK should seek qualitative superiority in the domains of cyber and space, it should not come at the expense of reducing kinetic fighting capabilities.
Neither the faltering British economy nor the country’s middling population favour a larger standing military, however, the United Kingdom has boosted its policy of coalition building to overcome these shortfalls and project its interests the world over.
Late 2021, the British and Ukrainian government embarked on negotiations to commence the UK’s first arms deal with the country. This week, it was announced that the British would sell anti-tank weapons to the Ukrainian government and provide training on their use. The deal coincided with a fiery speech from SEC Ben Wallace on the rights of an independent Ukraine.
Last November, the United Kingdom deployed troops to Poland and Lithuania to support the countries amid last year’s weaponised migrant crisis with Belarus. Speaking to the BBC, Secretary Wallace noted, “What we will do is send some Royal Engineers – that is part of the Army designed for building or making fences or roads or putting in infrastructure. We are going to be using that part of our forces to help the Poles and potentially other Baltic states to secure their border.”
At the same time, the Polish and British governments announced that they would undertake technology sharing arrangements to design and develop “Poland’s future Ground-Based Air Defence System”, with Secretary Wallace noting that “this agreement will deliver a step change in our defence co-operation with Poland and paves the way for our militaries to operate even more closely”.
Just last year, the Five Power Defence Arrangements between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the US celebrated its 50th anniversary a month before the Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Joe Biden to announce the AUKUS trilateral security arrangement.
While Britain may intend to scale back on the size of its military, the nation’s projection of power through coalition building remains stable. (Source: Defence Connect)
15 Jan 22. Defence Secretary meets with Nordic partners amid Russian military build-up. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace meets Nordic partners amid backdrop of aggressive Russian behaviour on the border of Ukraine.
The Defence Secretary reaffirmed the UK’s determination to support European allies and uphold international stability on a three-day visit to Scandinavia this week.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace met with ministers in Sweden, Finland and Norway to discuss Russia’s continued aggression and military build-up on Ukraine’s border.
The ministers also discussed increasing competition in the High North and how access to the region can be managed responsibly.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP said: “The UK and our Nordic partners are united in our approach to upholding European security.
My discussions this week have been directly about deepening bilateral relations, shared security and the consequences of Russian aggression towards Ukraine.”
Our discussions were clear that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a strategic mistake, violating the most basic freedoms and sovereignty.
Britain and the Nordic countries have a long and shared history. Our European neighbours and allies remain vital partners as we work together to defend our common values, counter shared threats and build resilience in our neighbourhood – the UK will always stand with them.
In Sweden, the Defence Secretary met with his counterpart Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist.
The Defence Secretary then travelled to Finland where he met with President Sauli Niinistö, Foreign Minister Haavisto and Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen.
Finally, the Defence Secretary met with his Norwegian counterpart Odd Roger Enoksen.
The UK’s Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper set out the UK’s commitment to the High North.
As a close neighbour to the Arctic, the UK is committed to working with partners such as Sweden, Finland and Norway to ensure that increasing access to the region and its resources is managed safely, sustainably and responsibly.
Sweden, Finland and Norway are all members of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) – 10 nations working together to deliver forces at high readiness, across a range of roles, complementing NATO and European security. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
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