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18 Feb 22. Defense Secretary Visits Polish Ally as Russia Continues Provocations in Ukraine. As Russian troops continue to amass on the borders of Ukraine, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is visiting allies in Warsaw, Poland, and then moving to meet with U.S. and Polish troops working together at Powidz Air Base. Austin and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak spoke during a press conference. Both men said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is miscalculating. “What Mr. Putin did not want to see happen was a stronger NATO on his flank, and that’s exactly what he will see,” Austin said.
Later in the day, Austin will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Poland is “a model NATO ally,” said a senior defense official traveling with Austin. The nation is modernizing its forces, and, as part of that, Austin announced the United States will sell 250 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks to Poland.
Austin noted that Polish soldiers fought alongside U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “And today, our relationship could not be stronger,” he said.
Poland regularly hosts more than 4,000 enduring, rotational U.S. military personnel — the fourth largest concentration of U.S. forces in Europe. “And, of course, in light of Russian force buildups near Ukraine, we appreciate Poland for hosting an additional 4,700 U.S. soldiers who are prepared to respond to a range of contingencies,” the secretary said.
U.S. forces will work closely with U.S. State Department personnel and Polish authorities should there be a need to help Americans leave Ukraine, the secretary said.
Beyond the current situation, the United States and Poland are firm partners in developing Poland’s defense capabilities. In addition to the Abrams tanks, “Poland has chosen to acquire F-35 fighter aircraft, Patriot air defense batteries, and high-mobility artillery rocket systems,” Austin said. These systems ensure U.S. and Polish forces are interoperable.
Austin also commended Poland for consistently meeting NATO’s spending and defense investment target. Poland spends at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, and more than 20 percent of that money is spent on modernization. In a generation, Poland has gone from a Soviet-era military to a modern, combined-arms, interoperable force.
Poland is also a leader of the frontline states working with the Baltic republics to enhance readiness and defend the easternmost allies, Austin said.
“Europe is now facing challenges to international peace and stability,” the secretary said. “For one, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko continues to cruelly promote the forced migration of thousands of displaced persons from the Middle East to Poland and the rest of the European Union.”
The entire alliance stands with Ukraine in supporting its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, and its right to choose its own path in its relations with its neighbors and the rest of the world.”
But Russia remains the main disturber of the peace in the region. Błaszczak and Austin discussed the way forward with NATO’s other defense ministers during meetings the past two days in Brussels. The two men continued their discussions in Warsaw.
“Any Russian attack or further incursion into Ukraine would not only ignite conflict, it would also violate the bedrock principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-determination,” Austin said. “The deployment of thousands of Russian forces in Belarus — in addition to the thousands surrounding Ukraine to the east and south — puts some of those forces within 200 miles of the Polish border.”
If Russia launches another invasion of Ukraine, Poland could see a flood of Ukrainian refugees “trying to save themselves and their families from the scourge of war,” Austin said. “To be clear, and as I said yesterday in Brussels, there is still time and space for diplomacy. The United States — in lockstep with our allies and partners, including Poland — has offered Putin a path away from crisis and toward greater security. Whatever path he chooses, the United States, our allies and our partners will be ready.”
And Austin said the rest of the NATO allies will also be ready. “The entire alliance stands with Ukraine in supporting its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, and its right to choose its own path in its relations with its neighbors and the rest of the world,” he said. “Poland and the United States, in solidarity with our allies, will continue to work together to overcome any challenge to European peace and stability and any future challenges to come.” (Source: US DoD)
18 Feb 22. UK assess Russian involvement in cyber attacks on Ukraine. Technical information analysis shows the GRU was almost certainly involved in disruptive DDoS attacks. The Government today attributed the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the Ukrainian banking sector on 15 and 16 February 2022 to have involved the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). The decision to publicly attribute this incident underlines the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity. An FCDO spokesperson said: “The UK Government judges that the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) were involved in this week’s distributed denial of service attacks against the financial sector in Ukraine. The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. This activity is yet another example of Russia’s aggressive acts against Ukraine. This disruptive behaviour is unacceptable – Russia must stop this activity and respect Ukrainian sovereignty. We are steadfast in our support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
18 Feb 22. U.S. announces Abrams tanks for Poland as Russia threat mounts. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Friday the planned sale of 250 Abrams tanks to Poland, as Washington moves to strengthen the defences of a key eastern European ally amid a mounting threat of war between neighboring Ukraine and Russia. Austin was speaking during a trip to Warsaw, where Polish leaders have been alarmed by the deployment of thousands of Russian forces in neighbouring Belarus, part of a huge Russian buildup around Ukraine that NATO says positions Moscow for an invasion. President Vladimir Putin denies any plan to invade.
“Some of those forces (are) within 200 miles (321 km) of the Polish border,” Austin said.
“If Russia further invades Ukraine, Poland could see tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainians and others flowing across its border, trying to save themselves and their families from the scourge of war.”
The sale of Abrams tanks to Poland, which is also home to a future U.S. missile defense site, is another sign of a deep and growing defence relationship with the United States. It follows the deployment of nearly 5,000 additional U.S. troops to Poland as well as additional fighter aircraft, as part of Washington’s response to the Ukraine crisis.
‘A STRONGER NATO’
The Abrams battle tank carries a crew of four personnel and has a manually loaded cannon that can fire against enemy personnel armored vehicles and even low-flying aircraft, according to its manufacturer, General Dynamics .
“What Mr. Putin did not want was a stronger NATO on his flank, and that’s exactly what he has today,” Austin told a news conference.
“It will also strengthen our interoperability with the Polish armed forces, boosting the credibility of our combined deterrence efforts and those of our other NATO Allies.”
Kyiv and the rebels have blamed each other for escalating tensions after artillery and mortar attacks this week, prompting fears that Russia, which has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, could get involved. read more
For a second day, Austin dismissed Russian claims that it was withdrawing troops from the areas around Ukraine.
Poland is among the NATO members that are most hawkish in confronting what it sees as Russia’s revisionist ambitions in Eastern Europe.
Birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement that played a key role in bringing down Communism in central Europe, Poland is particularly sensitive to what it sees as threats of Russian expansionism, and both conservative and liberal governments have been steadfast in their support for Kyiv.
“Poland knows first-hand the steep cost paid by victims of aggression from larger neighbors, and it has made valuable contributions to assist Ukraine in building up its defense capabilities,” Austin said, noting training exercises and its offer of ammunition and portable air defense weapons to Ukraine.
Washington is also finalising its deployment of an additional 4,700 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division, more than doubling the U.S. troop presence in Poland.
President Joe Biden has ruled out deploying U.S. forces to fight in Ukraine against Russia. But deployments like the ones to Poland could put U.S. and Russian troops in close proximity, which experts say is still a risk given that conflict can easily, and inadvertently, spill over borders.
The U.S. military has dispatched F-15 fighter jets to Lask Air Base, Poland, offering additional capability for air policing, officials say.
Poland’s southeastern border is close to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, where the United States relocated its embassy due to the mounting fears of a Russian invasion.
U.S. officials have said U.S. troops in Poland could help American citizens who may flee to the country if Russia invades as well as assist Warsaw with a possible influx of refugees. U.S. officials believe millions of Ukrainians may become refugees and internally displaced in a full-scale conflict.
Poland is already home to between one and two million Ukrainians.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
17 Feb 22. Nato’s ABDM High Visibility Project adds Romania as 15th participant. The ABDM initiative has been providing access to air-launched munitions under more favourable settings to allies. Romania has joined Nato’s Air Battle Decisive Munitions (ABDM) High Visibility Project. The high visibility project addresses the participants’ munitions requirements in the air domain in an economical and flexible manner. The framework’s scope initially included only air-to-ground precision-guided munitions. It was later expanded to include ABDM, which is any type of munition or explosive, mainly missiles, rockets and bombs. Since its inception in 2014, the initiative has been providing allies with access to air-launched munitions. Romania is the 15th participant in the munition cooperation framework. Other participants include countries such as Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain and the UK. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony was held in Brussels, Belgium, during the meeting of Nato defence ministers.
Nato Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană, Minister of National Defence of Greece Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, and Minister of National Defence of Romania Vasile Dîncu were present during the event.
Geoană said: “ABDM has already lived up to this promise since 2018. Through innovative acquisition strategies, participants have reduced their cost for precision-guided munitions by 15% to 20%. In response to urgent operational requirements, they were able to cut down delivery timelines by up to one year. At the same time, they significantly improved the interoperability and shareability of their stockpiles, making Nato troops a more unified force in operations.”
In October 2021, Nato defence ministers approved the treaty’s first-ever strategy for artificial intelligence (AI). (Source: airforce-technology.com)
17 Feb 22. USAF Moves F-35s from Utah to Germany as Ukraine Faces Possible Invasion. A dozen F-35A Lightning II fighter jets and 350 airmen from Hill Air Force Base in Utah have arrived in Germany, marking the latest deployment of American aircraft to Europe as tensions mount between Russia and Ukraine. The airmen from the active-duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on Wednesday, according to an Air Force Reserve statement. Despite the recent movement of U.S. forces and military hardware into Europe, American troops are far outnumbered by the estimated 150,000 troops Russia has sitting on the Ukrainian border. U.S. officials have described the movement of American forces as an effort to reassure NATO allies that the U.S. will help defend fellow NATO members.
Col. Matt Fritz, commander of the 419th Fighter Wing, said his airmen “train specifically for moments like these” and they’re ready to join the growing show of force.
“A group of Reserve F-35 pilots and maintainers have joined our active duty counterparts in a deployment to the region and stand ready to support increased security for our NATO allies,” Fritz said in a press release.
The F-35s sent out of Utah are the most recent deployment to Europe and the latest assistance the U.S. Air Force has provided to help bolster NATO’s defenses against Russia.
On Monday, eight F-15E Strike Eagles from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina deployed to Lask, Poland.
Biden: ‘Very High’ Risk of Russian Invasion in Days
President Joe Biden said Thursday there is a “very high” risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and that could happen within “several days.”
Additionally, six KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Aerial Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall in the U.K. have been deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Airmen with the 435th Contingency Response Group, which helps set up makeshift airfields in combat locations, have also been relocated from Germany’s Ramstein Air Base to Poland for possible assistance with Ukrainian evacuees.
B-52 Stratofortress aircraft and personnel from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, arrived at RAF Fairford in England on Feb. 10 for a scheduled training exercise, but also add to the growing American force in Europe.
Earlier this month, C-17 Globemaster III transport planes from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, delivered supplies to help the U.S. with the Ukraine mission. Additional planes are coming out of Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina, a base spokeswoman told local media.
Flight paths shared on social media by aviation enthusiasts have also shown large numbers of American surveillance aircraft in the region over the last week. These have included RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-9 Reaper drones, as well as Air Force RC-135V/W Rivet Joint planes used for electronic surveillance.
This past weekend, three U.S. P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft flying over the Mediterranean Sea encountered “unprofessional intercepts” from Russian aircraft, the Navy told media outlets.
Increased American flights in Europe come as military officials wait for a potential invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.
Despite Moscow claiming it was deescalating its forces, NATO reiterated this week that doesn’t appear to be the case as an estimated 150,000 Russian troops are gathered near the Ukrainian border.
Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and head of Allied Air Command, said in a press release that the F-35s will deter Russian actions as the threat of an invasion looms.
“We are facing a dynamic environment, and this deployment significantly enhances our support to NATO’s defenses,” Harrigian said.
This week, it was announced that hundreds of troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne were deploying. In total, roughly 6,000 U.S. soldiers are expected to be in place in Europe in the coming days and will join troops from other NATO partners, including the United Kingdom and France.
17 Feb 22. UK deploys HMS Trent and HMS Diamond to Eastern Mediterranean. The warships, along with other platforms in air and land, will bolster European defences. HMS Trent joins NATO task force in the Mediterranean. Credit: Royal Navy. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced the deployment of ships HMS Trent and HMS Diamond to the Eastern Mediterranean. The deployment is part of the country’s contribution to bolstering Nato’s defences on land, sea, and air and comes in response to the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia. A Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), HMS Trent has already started carrying out monitoring activity alongside vessels from NATO Allies, such as Canada, Italy, Spain and Turkey.
“Through this standing task, we secure freedom of the seas and demonstrate freedom of navigation over 2,000 miles away from the United Kingdom. Sailing as part of the Nato task group is a clear demonstration of our resilience and strength as an alliance.”
Meanwhile, the Type 45 or Daring-class air-defence destroyer HMS Diamond will soon sail for the Eastern Mediterranean. (Source: naval-technology.com)
17 Feb 22. Joint statement by the United Kingdom, Poland and Ukraine. Joint statement by the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The United Kingdom, Poland and Ukraine enjoy deep historical ties, built on shared values, a shared commitment to peace and security and a shared history of standing together against aggressors who threaten freedom in Europe.
We reiterate that each European State is free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, and no State can consider any part of Europe as its sphere of influence.
Our three nations will intensify our joint work to safeguard stability and build resilience in Ukraine, strengthening democracy at the frontier in Eastern Europe.
To this end, we agreed today to develop a Trilateral Memorandum of Co-operation. This will demonstrate our commitment to further strengthening the strategic cooperation and engagement between our three nations on the highest priority issues in support of Ukraine.
We will work together to advance our cooperation, which includes but not limited to co-ordinating support to the International Crimea Platform, increasing our collaboration on cyber security, energy security, and boosting strategic communications to counter disinformation.
The UK and Poland will continue to provide Ukraine with support, standing in unity with Ukraine, in the face of ongoing Russian aggression, and fully committed to stand with Ukrainian nation in its efforts aimed at defending Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
17 Feb 22. NATO Leaders Look to Defense, Deterrence Against Russia. NATO will continue to strengthen its defense and deterrence capabilities in the face of challenges from Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the conclusion of the Defense Ministerial in Brussels today. Stoltenberg said peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region is under threat. Russia has deployed more than 150,000 troops to its borders with Ukraine and into Belarus. “There are signs from Moscow that diplomacy could continue, but, so far, we have not seen any sign of withdrawal or de-escalation,” the secretary general said.
Russia was the focus of meetings NATO defense ministers — including Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III — held today with leaders from Ukraine and Georgia, as well as leaders from the European Union, Finland and Sweden.
“NATO remains open to engaging with Russia in good faith,” Stoltenberg said. “Allies are ready to sit down with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council address a wide range of issues and find the common ground.”
But even though Russian officials have said they will withdraw troops, they are doing just the opposite, Stoltenberg said. Russia is moving troops and equipment toward the border of Ukraine.
“Russia has, yet again, demonstrated its disregard for the principles underpinning European security and its ability and willingness to threaten the use of force in pursuit of its objectives,” Stoltenberg said. “Unfortunately, I am afraid this is the new normal which we need to be prepared for.”
Alliance cooperation with the European Union is close — many members of NATO are in the European Union. Cooperation with Finland and Sweden is also close and growing. “Russian actions are part of a larger pattern of growing strategic competition, increasing hybrid threats, and pervasive instability,” Stoltenberg said. “These can only be tackled successfully if we work together.”
NATO will remain true to its democratic values, the secretary general said. “Today, allies confirmed that NATO’s door remains open,” he said. “And the decision on NATO membership is for NATO allies and aspirant countries to take — nobody else. The right of each nation to choose his own path is absolutely fundamental for European and transatlantic security, and it must be respected.” (Source: US DoD)
17 Feb 22. Defense Secretary Says U.S. Commitment to NATO Defense ‘Ironclad.’ The NATO allies are united in opposing Russia’s actions along Ukraine’s borders, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III emphatically said U.S. commitment to the common defense is ironclad.
The secretary spoke at the conclusion of meetings of the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels today.
In addition to the many moves the United States has made to strengthen NATO in the past months, Austin announced that a U.S. Army Stryker company will deploy to Bulgaria for joint training opportunities.
“These troops will be departing Germany in coming days, and they will help ensure our readiness and interoperability with Bulgaria as our NATO ally,” the secretary said.
Russia has amassed more than 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders including in Crimea, Belarus and in the Black Sea.
“In many ways, this brings Russian troops right up to NATO’s doorstep,” he said. “So, let me begin today by making clear that America’s commitment to NATO and to Article 5 remains ironclad. As President Biden said a couple days ago, we will — if we must — defend every inch of NATO territory.”
The secretary said there is no reason for Russian President Vladimir Putin to order troops to invade Ukraine. “Ukraine does not threaten anyone, let alone its Russian neighbors,” Austin said. “And yet, that is what Moscow would have us believe. That is how Mr. Putin continues to justify his assembly of significant combat power.”
Officials in Moscow have said that Russian forces are withdrawing at the conclusion of military exercises. “Quite the contrary, we see them add to the more than 150,000 troops they already have arrayed along that border — even in the last couple days,” the secretary said.
Russian forces are approaching the border with Ukraine. The Russians have added more combat and support aircraft and have sharpened their readiness in the Black Sea. They’re even stockpiling blood supplies, the secretary said.
“I was a soldier myself not that long ago,” he said. “I know firsthand that you don’t do these sorts of things for no reason. And you certainly don’t do them if you’re getting ready to pack up and go home.”
Austin said the NATO allies must remain vigilant and be prepared for Russian false-flag operations. “We will continue to explore ways to enhance our readiness as the United States and others have done with additional troop deployments to NATO’s eastern flank,” he said. “And we will closely match Russian words to Russian deeds: What they say to what they actually do.”
Putin has said he wants more dialogue, and Austin and the rest of the NATO leaders have said they welcome that sentiment. “We believe there is still time and space for diplomacy to work, and we are in lockstep with our allies and partners toward that end,” Austin said. “A peaceful outcome that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity represents the best outcome — for Ukraine, to be sure, but also for Russia and for the Russian people. If Mr. Putin is serious about achieving that sort of outcome, he will find in the United States and in this alliance no better or more serious interlocutor.”
If he is not serious about dialogue and re-invades a sovereign country, “it will be Mr. Putin who will bear the responsibility for the suffering and the immense sacrifice that ensues,” he said.
“I joined the United States Army in the middle of the Cold War, and I have served and fought alongside NATO allies for the better part of my adult life,” the secretary said. “But I can honestly say that I have never seen the alliance more relevant, more united or more resolute than I do right now. Mr. Putin says he doesn’t want a strong NATO on his western flank. He’s getting exactly that.”
Austin said he is “incredibly proud” of the NATO alliance, and he said he’s “satisfied in the knowledge that we will be sure-footed in the face of aggression, but dedicated, as always, to the prospect of peace. There is nothing inevitable about this looming conflict. It can still be averted. The path of diplomacy may be difficult, but it is still worth the trek.” (Source: US DoD)
17 Feb 22. UK contribution to NATO uplift bolsters defences in eastern Europe. UK’s substantial contribution to NATO’s uplift in Eastern Europe is strengthening the Alliance’s Defences on land, sea and air, amid ongoing tensions with Russia. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is in Brussels today and tomorrow to discuss the UK offer and the situation in Ukraine with NATO Allies.
The UK is doubling the number of personnel in Estonia and sending additional equipment, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. The troops and equipment will begin to move to Estonia today.
The Royal Welsh battlegroup, which includes armoured vehicles and personnel, will leave Sennelager in Germany and bases in the UK and begin to arrive in Estonia during the coming week. Apache helicopters will soon be making their way to conduct exercises with our Allies and partners in Eastern Europe.
Four additional UK Typhoon jets have also landed in Cyprus and will shortly begin to patrol the skies with NATO Allies in Eastern Europe.
HMS Trent – a UK Warship – has already begun conducting patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea alongside NATO Allies from Canada, Italy, Spain and Turkey.
HMS Diamond is preparing to set sail in the coming days for the Eastern Mediterranean and will join up with NATO allies.
The majority of the 350 Royal Marines of 45 Commando committed to Poland have already arrived. We have also put 1,000 more British personnel at readiness in the UK to support a humanitarian response, if needed.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Alongside our NATO Allies, we are deploying troops and assets on land, sea and air to bolster European defences in response to the build-up of Russian military forces on the border of Ukraine.
NATO and our allies have been clear that an invasion of Ukraine will be met with severe consequences. De-escalation and diplomacy remain the only path out of this situation.”
While in Brussels, the Defence Secretary held meetings with a number of NATO counterparts including the Quad, Turkey, Canada and Italy. Ministers discussed the ongoing Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine and the international community’s response.
The Defence Secretary impressed with his counterparts that Russia needed to match its actions to its words, and truly deescalate.
The UK is playing a leading role within NATO and shaping the international community’s response to Russia.
The UK supplied Ukraine with light, anti-armour, defensive weapon systems as well as an additional defensive package of body armour, helmets and combat boots.
The UK is Europe’s largest contributor to NATO. We have deployed more troops to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence than any other Ally, and HMS Prince of Wales leads the Alliance’s Maritime High Readiness Force.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has advised all British nationals to leave Ukraine immediately. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
16 Feb 22. NATO considering new battlegroups in Eastern Europe to deter Russia. NATO members are weighing to send fresh troops to the alliance’s eastern and southeastern member countries, as Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday dismissed Moscow’s claims that some of its forces are returning to their barracks. Stoltenberg raised the possibility of sending battle groups to “central and eastern, southeastern Europe” during a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Monday. France had already offered to lead such a formation in Romania, according to the secretary-general.
“Our military commanders will now work on the details and report back within weeks,” he said.
The considerations are part of a package of measures meant to strengthen the alliance’s deterrence posture toward Russia, which has 100,000-plus forces positioned around Ukraine. Leaders in Moscow have insisted the troop movements constitute training, but European and U.S. officials believe the real objective is to have substantial forces assembled to pounce on a pretext for a Ukrainian invasion.
Stoltenberg said there has not been a final decision to create new battlegroups in the style of those already positioned in the Baltic nations, which number roughly 1,500 troops each. “We’ll make that based on advice from military commanders. And of course, it will not necessarily be exactly the same as the battlegroups we have in the Baltic countries, but it’s based on some of the same concept, multinational forces, NATO in the East.”
Meanwhile, Stoltenberg said NATO intelligence services had yet to detect Russian forces drawing down from their positions around Ukraine. “The intelligence we are sharing is actually confirmed also with open sources, with the satellite imagery from commercial satellites,” he told reporters. “So I think it’s very hard to dispute that Russia has amassed well over 100,000 troops and a lot of heavy equipment.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last month singled out Romania and Bulgaria — alliance members since 2004 — as two nations where Moscow wants to see NATO de-emphasize its military posture.
That demand comes as Russian leaders make references to the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which President Vladimir Putin brought up again at a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week.
Written at a time when post-Cold War cooperation between the major geopolitical blocs seemed within reach, the document ties both sides to a laundry list of transparency measures to ensure peace in Europe. On troop deployments, it stipulates that NATO would “carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.”
Likewise, Russia would “exercise similar restraint in its conventional force deployments in Europe,” the document states.
Moscow’s continued references to the kind of NATO that existed 25 years ago points to a “basic desire” for security guarantees that harken back to a different time, said Christian Mölling of the Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s essentially a smokescreen.”
European and U.S. officials have rejected the suggestion that democratic Eastern European nations should submit themselves to a Russian sphere of influence around its borders, an idea running like a thread through recent proclamations from Moscow.
“NATO is a defensive alliance,” Stoltenberg repeatedly said Wednesday. “NATO is not a threat to Russia.” (Source: Defense News)
16 Feb 22. Russia Forces ‘A New Normal’ on Europe, Stoltenberg Says. Russia has imposed “a new normal” on Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the conclusion of alliance talks in Brussels, and the defense organization must respond. Alliance defense ministers — including Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III — discussed the security crisis that Russian President Vladimir Putin caused by sending 150,000 troops and equipment to the borders of Ukraine and into Belarus.
Stoltenberg called the Russian actions, “The most serious security crisis in Europe in decades.”
Stoltenberg said he welcomes all diplomatic efforts and said there were signs from Moscow that diplomacy could continue. “But so far, we do not see any sign of de-escalation on the ground,” he said. “No withdrawals of troops or equipment. This may of course change. However, what we see today is that Russia maintains a massive invasion force ready to attack.”
Russia has deployed high-end capabilities from Crimea to Belarus — almost encircling Ukraine. “This is the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the Cold War,” the secretary general said.
The NATO allies and other countries around the world have told Russian leaders that the country will pay a high cost if it invades Ukraine — a sovereign country — again. “We have called out Russia’s actions, plans and disinformation,” Stoltenberg said. “At the same time, NATO remains prepared for dialogue. It is not too late for Russia to step back from the brink of conflict and choose the path of peace.”
The alliance has sent concrete written proposals to Russia on transparency, risk reduction and arms control. “We have yet to receive a response,” he said. “I reiterate my invitation to Russia to meet again in the NATO-Russia Council.”
NATO — a league of democratic nations — will not compromise core principles including the right of each nation to choose its own path and the ability to protect and defend all allies,” the secretary general said.
“We have already enhanced our deterrence and defense with more troops, planes and ships and higher readiness of the NATO Response Force,” he said. “These steps are defensive. NATO is not a threat to Russia.”
Russia’s actions are threats to the rule-based organizations that have kept the peace since the end of World War II. “Moscow has made it clear that it is prepared to contest the fundamental principles that have underpinned our security for decades, and to do so by using force,” he said. “I regret to say that this is the new normal in Europe.”
This demands a response.
The defense ministers decided to develop options to further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense “including to consider establishing new NATO battlegroups in central and eastern, southeastern Europe,” Stoltenberg said. “I welcomed the offer by France to lead such a battlegroup in Romania.”
Military commanders will work on the details over the next few weeks, he said.
While Russian actions were one item on the agenda, the ministers also participated in the Nuclear Planning Group. “Ministers considered worrying developments across the globe including Russia’s and China’s modernization of their nuclear arsenals, and the continued risk of nuclear proliferation,” the secretary general said.
“Ministers also welcomed the progress made on burden-sharing with the seventh consecutive year of increased defense spending by European allies and Canada,” he said. “This means $270bn in additional spending on defense since 2014.” There will be a second day of meetings tomorrow.
(Source: US DoD)
17 Feb 22. SNP tries to charm defence firms as independence concerns mount. Senior SNP figures have launched a charm offensive of defence contractors as part of plans to convince them they can thrive in an independent Scotland. It is understood figures in the party have approached defence firms — with particular attention given to smaller, more specialist companies, as well as larger employers such as BAE Systems and Thales — to allay fears about the potential break-up of Britain. Talks have also been held with businesses and trade unions that were vocally opposed to independence during the 2014 referendum campaign as part of a renewed effort to build bridges. The plan came to light as the chief executive of Babcock, the international aerospace, defence and security company, warned the company could move its fabrication yard facilities from Rosyth, Fife, to England within a few years if it was made to feel unwelcome in an independent Scotland.
Stewart McDonald, the SNP’s defence spokesman, has led the charge on courting businesses and their employees amid fears about where defence work would come from if the UK government withdrew its business.
“Scotland’s domestic defence sector contributes tens of thousands of high-quality apprenticeships and full-time skilled jobs to our economy — a contribution that has always been welcomed by the SNP,” he said.
“An independent Scotland will be a key player in protecting our North Atlantic neighbourhood, and a thriving domestic defence sector — continuing to source talent from Scotland’s world-class universities – will play a vital role in supporting that posture. Babcock operates and is welcomed in many countries across the world — an independent Scotland will be no different.”
The SNP plans are still being drawn up but the procurement plans will be based on research undertaken about the type of jobs and which parts of the defence sector they are supporting.
McDonald told The Times last month that future proposals for an independent Scotland’s defence strategy would be radically different to the Scottish government’s white paper released before the 2014 referendum.
David Lockwood, Babcock’s chief executive, said a future “yes” vote would be “manageable” for the firm but that the tone of the constitutional debate was putting off investors from England.
The UK’s largest warships, the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, were built at Rosyth, and Babcock recently announced plans to recruit 500 more workers for its Type 31 frigate programme.
“If we had to replicate this in England because we were told we weren’t welcome here — which I think would be a bad mistake for Scotland — but if that were the decision, we can replicate this in three years, and the time window of negotiations is longer than that,” Lockwood told The Courier. “It’s not ideal but it is manageable.”
MPs will take evidence next week from the defence industry on investment and employment as well as the opportunities for the shipbuilding and space sectors. Representatives from multiple companies will speak to the Scottish affairs select committee as part of its Defence in Scotland: Military Personnel and Estate inquiry.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, the anti-independence group, said: “If Scotland chose to leave the UK we would be choosing to no longer being eligible for contracts where national security is a factor, such as warships. Therefore it would be inevitable that large shipbuilding companies would have to relocate.” (Source: Google/The Times)
16 Feb 22. PM to boost historic UK-Australia partnership. UK to strengthen partnership with Australia in defence, security, climate and trade.
- UK to strengthen partnership with Australia in defence, security, climate and trade
- The Prime Minister will speak to Scott Morrison in a video call this evening to agree new bilateral cooperation
- UK expected to announce £25m to support security and resilience in the Indo-Pacific, as well as new defence and climate-science projects
The United Kingdom and Australia are expected to agree new measures to boost bilateral cooperation and work more closely together in the Indo-Pacific, in a leaders conference call this evening [Wednesday 16th Feb].
The Prime Minister will speak to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison via secure video call to discuss shared defence and security issues, including the current situation in Ukraine, as well as trade and technology collaboration.
As part of the UK’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific, the Prime Minister will announce £25m for regional projects to strengthen resilience in cyberspace, state threats and maritime security. The UK aims to be the European partner of choice in the Indo-Pacific and we are committed to working with Australia to promote peace and security in the region.
Following the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement signed in December, the Prime Minister will also highlight opportunities for British workers, businesses and consumers to reap the benefits of the comprehensive and wide-ranging deal.
He will welcome two major new investments, with Australian fintech firm PEXA expanding into the UK as its first international market and UK financial services company Octopus Group developing a major greenfield renewables project. In a boost for UK-Australia collaboration on clean tech, Octopus Australia is partnering with an Indigenous business group to create Desert Springs Octopus, a project worth £26bn over ten years that will deliver wind, solar and hydrogen energy.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
The UK and Australia are working together to enhance regional security in the Indo-Pacific, drive innovation in science and green technology and boost opportunities for our businesses and citizens.
Our nations are forging a new partnership from a historic alliance, fit for the next century and grounded in our shared priorities on security, democracy and free and fair trade.
The leaders are expected underline their personal commitment to the AUKUS partnership, including the collective endeavour with the United States to provide the Royal Australian Navy with a conventional-armed nuclear-powered submarine capability, and to commit to increased joint naval activity in the Indo Pacific.
The UK and Australia will also boost cooperation on science and technology through a new Science Partnership Series to bring our world-class research communities together. The UK will enhance the UK-Australia Space Bridge Agreement, agreed a year ago, with a new £1m commitment for Earth Observation in Agroclimate to help farmers deal with a changing climate. Both countries will recommit to delivering on the Glasgow Climate Pact and Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
16 Feb 22. UK military doubling troop presence in Estonia. Personnel and hardware have been deployed in response to tensions involving Russia. The UK is doubling its troop presence in Estonia in response to tensions involving Russia, with extra personnel and hardware being sent to the Baltic nation. Personnel, tanks and armoured vehicles began moving to the country on Wednesday. A battlegroup from Royal Welsh is leaving bases in the UK and Germany, and is due to arrive in Estonia within the next week.
Other equipment being deployed includes:
- Apache helicopters to conduct exercises in eastern Europe
- Four additional Typhoon jets that have landed in Cyprus tasked with patrolling the skies over eastern Europe
- Warship HMS Trent, which has started patrols in the eastern Mediterranean Sea with NATO allies
- HMS Diamond is also preparing to set sail from the UK for a similar role.
The Ministry of Defence says most of the 350 Royal Marines who deployed to Poland this month have already arrived, with 1,000 extra British personnel at readiness in the UK if needed for a humanitarian response.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Alongside our NATO allies, we are deploying troops and assets on land, sea and air to bolster European defences in response to the build-up of Russian military forces on the border of Ukraine.
“NATO and our allies have been clear that an invasion of Ukraine will be met with severe consequences.
“De-escalation and diplomacy remain the only path out of this situation,” he added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday he believes Russia is continuing its military build-up around Ukraine’s borders.
Russia, however, has said some of its troops stationed near the Ukraine border are returning to their bases and has repeatedly denied it is planning to invade. (Source: forces.net)
16 Feb 22. NATO Leader Says Alliance Is Hoping for Best, Preparing for Worst. NATO is hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today as he opened meetings of the alliance’s defense ministers in Brussels.
“We face a dangerous moment for European security,” he said. “Russia has amassed an invasion force on the borders of Ukraine. At the same time, there are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue. This gives grounds for cautious optimism. However, we have not, so far, seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground.”
Defense leaders from the 30-nation alliance will examine the next moves. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is representing the United States at the meeting of defense ministers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered around 150,000 troops into areas along Russia’s border with Ukraine including 30,000 troops in Belarus that could be used to invade Ukraine, President Joe Biden said in an update on the situation yesterday.
NATO is a defensive alliance and is no threat to Russia, Stoltenberg said. The alliance is ready to engage in dialogue with Russia in hopes of finding a diplomatic way forward.
“But while we continue to work for the best, we must also be prepared for the worst,” he said. “We will do what is necessary to protect and defend all allies.”
The United States sent 1,000 soldiers from a Stryker squadron from Germany to Romania. An infantry brigade combat team is deploying from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps is establishing a headquarters element in Germany.
In addition, Austin placed 8,500 service members on heightened state of readiness should NATO activate its Rapid Reaction Force.
“Today, we will consider how we should enhance our deterrence and defense posture and pursue our diplomatic efforts,” the secretary general said. (Source: US DoD)
16 Feb 22. Statement by NATO Defence Ministers on the situation in and around Ukraine. We are gravely concerned by the very large scale, unprovoked and unjustified Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine and in Belarus. We urge Russia, in the strongest possible terms, to choose the path of diplomacy, and to immediately reverse its build-up and withdraw its forces from Ukraine in accordance with its international obligations and commitments. We remain committed to our dual-track approach to Russia: strong deterrence and defence, combined with openness to dialogue.
Russia’s actions pose a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. As a consequence and to ensure the defence of all Allies, we are deploying additional land forces in the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime and air assets, as announced by Allies, and have increased the readiness of our forces. Our measures are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory. We are prepared to further strengthen our defensive and deterrent posture to respond to all contingencies.
Our commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is iron-clad. We stand united to defend each other.
NATO remains committed to the foundational principles underpinning European security, including that each nation has the right to choose its own security arrangements. We reaffirm our support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. As stated previously, any further Russian aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and carry a high price. NATO will continue to closely coordinate with relevant stakeholders and other international organisations including the EU.
NATO and Allies continue to pursue diplomacy and dialogue with Russia on Euro-Atlantic security issues, including at the highest levels. We support all these efforts, and efforts in the Normandy Format to implement the Minsk agreements. We have expressed our readiness to engage in a Renewed European Security Dialogue initiated by Poland as the current OSCE Chair. We have made substantive proposals to Russia to enhance the security of all nations in the Euro-Atlantic region and await a response. We have repeatedly offered, and continue to offer, further dialogue through the NATO-Russia Council, and stand ready to engage. We strongly encourage Russia to reciprocate and to choose diplomacy and de-escalation. (Source: NATO)
16 Feb 22. NATO Defense Ministers Meet as Russia Still Threatens Ukraine. NATO defense ministers are meeting as the alliance faces the biggest challenge in Europe since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Alliance members are united in their opposition to Russian threats against Ukrainian sovereignty and have called on Russia to de-escalate the situation by pulling its troops from the border of Ukraine. The Russian defense ministry said yesterday that some military units are leaving their positions near Ukraine. “That would be good, but we have not yet verified that,” President Joe Biden said during an update on the situation from the White House. “We have not yet verified that Russian military units are returning to their home bases. Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position. And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border.” The Russians have sent mixed signals, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today at the beginning of the meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers. “I think the message and the signs we heard from Moscow yesterday provides some grounds for cautious optimism because that was a message about diplomacy,” he said. “We have been ready for diplomatic efforts talks with Russia throughout this crisis. We have stated that again and again and conveyed our proposals to Russia in writing, and we are waiting for their response.”
“At the same time, we have not seen any withdrawal of Russian forces,” Stoltenberg continued. “That contradicts the message of real diplomatic efforts. It remains to be seen whether there is a Russian withdrawal. We are monitoring very closely what Russia does in and around Ukraine. They have increased the number of troops and more troops are on their way. So far, there is no de-escalation.”
The Russian build-up is unprecedented since the end of the Cold War, and Stoltenberg repeated that Russian President Vladimir Putin “still has time to step back from the brink, stop preparing for war, and start working for a peaceful solution.”
The alliance is working for a diplomatic solution, but it is preparing for any scenario. The secretary general welcomed the increased U.S. presence in Europe with more troops in the eastern part of the alliance. The United States moved a 1,000-man Stryker squadron from Germany to Romania and is deploying a brigade from the 82nd Airborne to Poland. There is also a 300-man headquarters now operating in Germany.
In addition, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered 8,500 service members to a heightened level of readiness and set to deploy if NATO activates its Rapid Reaction Force.
The U.S. troop movements are concrete examples of the U.S. commitment to NATO and the premise that an attack on one is an attack on all. “You’ve heard us say a number of times that we’re committed to Article 5 and also the principles of collective security,” Austin told Stoltenberg before the ministerial began. “So you can expect that commitment will remain rock solid going forward.” (Source: US DoD)
15 Feb 22. Ukraine Will Dominate Defense Secretary’s Europe Trip. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III is traveling to Europe for meetings with NATO allies during an especially fraught time. Austin will participate in the alliance’s defense ministerial meetings in Brussels, then travel to Poland for meetings and on to Lithuania where he will talk with leaders of the Baltic states, according to a senior defense official who discussed the situation in Europe with reporters traveling with Austin. Overshadowing the meetings is Russia’s de-stabilizing military buildup on its borders with Ukraine and in Belarus. Last week, President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said another Russian invasion of Ukraine could happen at any time should Russian President Vladimir Putin order it.
News reports from Moscow say Russia will start withdrawing troops from the region. Still, through the past weekend, Putin continued to move troops and military equipment into the border region, the official said.
“Russia has well upwards of 100,000 troops encircling Ukraine and about 30,000 of those are in Belarus,” the official said. “We have watched as the Russians have really essentially accumulated all of the capabilities that they would need to have a decisive invasion of Ukraine.”
This doesn’t have to happen. “We do still believe that Putin could decide, if he wanted to, to take the path of diplomacy and that is something that we have tried to pursue steadfastly,” the official said.
If a Russian attack on Ukraine goes forward, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that obviously could kill civilians. “A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of massive force,” the official said.
Diplomacy is preferred and leaders around the world have urged Putin to choose the path of de-escalation. President Biden has spoken with Putin, and Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have spoken with their Russian counterparts. “President Biden spoke with President Putin on Saturday to make clear that if Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia,” the official said. “President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing in the world. He communicated that there is a diplomatic path forward, but only if Russia is willing to engage seriously. We remain ready to engage in results-oriented diplomacy in full coordination with our allies and partners.”
The official said the United States is “clear-eyed” about the prospects of a diplomatic resolution given the steps that Russia has taken, but “the stakes of this are too high to not give Russia every chance to avoid an action that we believe would be catastrophic.”
The underlying message of Austin’s trip is the NATO alliance must uphold the international rules-based order. “We have to call out egregious attempts to undermine the rule of law, and we have to focus on our common values including upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states,” the official said.
U.S. military forces are responding appropriately. Some 8,500 U.S. troops are on a heightened state of readiness should NATO activate its Rapid Response Force. Another 1,000 soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment have deployed from Germany to Romania. An infantry brigade combat team from the 82nd Airborne Division is deploying to Poland and a headquarters element from the 18th Airborne Corps in deploying to Germany. The situation with Russia will obviously dominate the discussions at NATO in Brussels, the official said. The official praised the strong and united response of the alliance to Russia’s moves. In Poland, the secretary will focus on enhancing bilateral cooperation and deepening the Polish American partnership, the official said. The secretary will also have an opportunity to visit U.S. troops. In Lithuania, Austin will meet defense leaders of the front-line states. (Source: US DoD)
15 Feb 22. Joint Expeditionary Force Military Chiefs Agree to ‘Work Together on Shared Challenges’ Amid Rising Tensions with Russia. The UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin met with his counterparts from the other Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) to discuss the situation in and around Ukraine and European security issues. UK Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin meeting with JEF Defence Chiefs The meeting in Lulea, Sweden, came amid rising tensions over the Russian military build-up along the border of Ukraine and in illegally-annexed Crimea. The group considered how the JEF can support European security during this difficult time, complementing the activity of NATO. The JEF is a UK-led force, comprising 10 nations working together to deliver forces at high readiness, across a range of roles, complementing NATO and European security.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin discussed a range of shared security challenges and defence objectives at the meeting with Defence Chiefs from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. This was the first meeting of JEF Chiefs of Defence staff. JEF Defence Ministers last met in July.
In a collective statement, the 10 Defence Chiefs said [will confirm this is the latest with SPO]: ‘The Joint Expeditionary Force continues to demonstrate its effectiveness in contributing to European security in the High North, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region. In a world defined by competition and confrontation, it is vital that like-minded nations like ours come together to protect our shared values and defend the rules and freedoms that underpin security and stability in Europe.’
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, UK Chief of the Defence Staff, added: “It was a pleasure to meet with my counterparts from the nine JEF partner nations today, and timely. The situation on Ukraine’s border, and the unprecedented Russian military activity across the Euro-Atlantic, highlight why it is so important that Britain and our European allies and partners are able to come together in this way. We held productive discussions about our plans for the future, and reiterated our shared commitment to the security and stability of northern Europe.”
Following the success of Exercise Joint Protector 2021, which took place in Sweden last year, the Chiefs also discussed future opportunities for the JEF nations to collaborate.
A busy schedule of activity over the coming months and years will see the JEF operating across its core areas of the North Atlantic, High North and Baltic Sea Region, with a particular focus on the upcoming command and control Exercise Joint Protector later in 2022, followed by the Live Exercise JEF Warrior in 2023.
The meeting came as the UK continues to take a central role in attempts to resolve the unfolding crisis in Eastern Europe, leading diplomatic efforts to find a resolution while increasing our support to our allies and partners.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week travelled to Brussels to meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, offering to bolster the alliance’s defences with additional troops, ships and aircraft.
The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also travelled to Russia to meet with their counterparts in an effort to find a diplomatic solution without compromising on Ukraine’s sovereignty or NATO’s open door policy. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
11 Feb 22. Finland signs for F-35s. Finland has signed the first series of agreements related to the procurement of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) that was selected to fulfil its HX fighter replacement requirement in late 2021. The Finnish Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 11 February that the government had signed the first Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) documents, which under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) structure constitute the procurement agreement.
“On 11 February Major General Kari Renko, Chief of the Defence Forces Logistics Command, signed in Tampere the LOA documents on F-35A aircraft and their maintenance services,” the MoD said, adding that the LOAs signed covered 64 Block 4 standard F-35As to be delivered from 2025 to 2030, as well as maintenance equipment and training. At the same time, Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney related to industrial participation. (Source: Janes)
27 Jan 22. EDA’s New Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence Underway. The new Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence (IF CEED) implements both policies and opportunities of the circular economy into the European defence domain by building common transnational projects. These projects enhance the defence sector’s environmental sustainability and contribute to the EU Green Deal by boosting an efficient use of resources. IF CEED, which will run for two years, is managed by the European Defence Agency (EDA) with total financial contribution of €784,000 from the European Commission (EU LIFE Programme) and Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence.
IF CEED supports the application of the EU Green Deal’s Circular Economy approach to the European defence sector, based on an active and cooperative community that involves EU Member States’ Ministries of Defence, the defence industry, research-and-technology-organisations, academia, financial institutions, private associations, as well as other national and international public bodies. The forum aims to incubate cooperation projects with as many Member States involved as possible.
EDA Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý, said: “Under IF CEED, EDA is supporting Ministries of Defence, defence-related industry, and many other actors to take up in a structured and coordinated manner a paramount challenge of our times. Together with the EDA’s other sustainable defence initiatives, IF CEED contributes to the role that EDA is called to play within the implementation of the European Climate Change and Defence Roadmap.”
Circular Economy in Defence
The benefits of transposing circular economy principles in the defence domain is paramount to reduce environmental impact while also strengthening Europe’s strategic autonomy, through greater recycling of resources, lower waste levels and reducing Europe’s dependence on imported strategic materials and components. IF CEED is an important forum to address these challenges. To this end, the forum’s goals are to:
- Incubate collaborative circular-related projects and their respective consortia, including precise roadmaps;
- Enable transnational innovation and lessons learnt to apply the circular economy concept to the defence sector, while creating new business models;
- Promote new circular-related knowledge and skills across all defence stakeholders.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Luxembourg, Mr François Bausch, said: “Recent assessments have shown us that value chains in the defence sector contribute significantly to the heavy carbon footprint of defence. Besides that, in a world of increased competition for raw materials, we urgently need to improve our systems of reusing and recycling such materials. These facts have motivated Luxembourg to support the set-up of the Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence. We see a great opportunity here to promote and be part of potential collaborative projects and roadmaps to boost circularity in European defence.”
By addressing the technological and organisational aspects needed to successfully implement circularity principles, IF CEED is organised around two Incubation Clusters, namely ‘Materials and Innovative Designs’ and ‘Processes and Digitalisation’. Within the two clusters, nine working areas are in place including: critical raw materials, circular additive manufacturing, circular materials for textiles, sustainable eco-design, EU waste regulation, green public procurement, eco-management audit strategies, circular data and spare parts management.
The primary activities foreseen within the project groups include for example on-mission additive manufacturing solutions and recycling of smart textiles based on innovative technologies.
Director-General at the European Commission’s DG Environment, Florika Fink-Hooijer, said: “The European Defence Agency’s new forum for circular economy in European defence is a welcomed initiative to support concrete circular solutions in a key sector for the EU. The transition towards a circular economy envisaged by the Green Deal is a truly systemic change, which requires all sectors to transform and reap the benefits that transition brings. With the support of the LIFE Programme, the new forum will help open up new pathways to achieving circularity and green innovation in European defence and potential synergies with civilian crisis management.”
Cooperation in Defence
Dedicated expert groups across the defence domain (e.g. Ministries of Defence, defence-related industry, research-and-technology-organisations, academia, institutes), partly based on EDA’s working bodies specialised in their respective field, will work together to deliver on the above-mentioned goals of IF CEED. 22 Member States and dozens of private organisations are already engaged to achieve the overall objective to incubate cooperation projects. A dedicated IF CEED website has been launched as a “one-stop shop” for circular economy in European defence, by including national contributions. A first Annual General Conference, which will focus on the first concrete findings, is planned to take place in September 2022.
Member States involved in IF CEED to date are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden. (Source: EDA)
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