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14 Jan 23. Sunak accelerates Ukraine support ahead of anniversary of Putin’s war.
The Prime Minister has announced the UK will send tanks and self-propelled guns to aid the Ukrainian offensive.
- The Prime Minister has announced the UK will send tanks and self-propelled guns to aid the Ukrainian offensive
- As the first anniversary of the war approaches, the PM has stressed the need for an international strategy to break the stalemate
- This week the Foreign and Defence Secretaries will meet counterparts to galvanise international action
The Prime Minister is set to accelerate the UK’s diplomatic and military support to Ukraine in the weeks ahead in a bid to push Russia further back and secure a lasting peace.
A flurry of UK diplomatic activity will take place across the globe this week after the Prime Minister directed senior ministers to drive international action as we approach the first anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The Prime Minister has already committed to match or exceed the UK’s defence support for Ukraine in 2023 and he instructed ministers and officials this week to ensure we are being proactive as possible across the full spectrum of our support.
UK defence and security officials believe a window has opened up where Russia is on the backfoot due to resupply issues and plummeting morale. The Prime Minister is therefore encouraging allies to deploy their planned support for 2023 as soon as possible to have maximum impact.
Sending Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine is the start of a gear change in the UK’s support. A squadron of 14 tanks will go into the country in the coming weeks after the Prime Minister told President Zelenskyy that the UK would provide additional support to aid Ukraine’s land war. Around 30 AS90s, which are large, self-propelled guns, operated by five gunners, are expected to follow. The Defence Secretary will set out further details of this support in the House of Commons on Monday.
The UK will begin training the Ukrainian Armed Forces to use the tanks and guns in the coming days, as part of wider UK efforts which have seen thousands of Ukrainian troops trained in the UK over the last six months.
The Prime Minister has tasked the Defence Secretary with bringing together European allies to ensure the surge of global military support is as strategic and coordinated as possible. The Defence Secretary will travel to Estonia and Germany this week to work with NATO allies and other international partners to this end.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretary will travel to the United States later this week to discuss how the UK and US can leverage our position as leading supporters of Ukraine to galvanise further international action.
He will also travel to Canada – another of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters – to discuss closer coordination on international sanctions and our coordinated effort to boost our support to Ukraine.
A Downing Street spokesperson said:
As the people of Ukraine approach their second year living under relentless Russian bombardment, the Prime Minister is dedicated to ensuring Ukraine wins this war.
Alongside his closest military advisors, he has analysed the military picture, looked at the strategic impact of the UK’s support and identified a window where he thinks the UK and its allies can have maximum impact.
The Prime Minister is clear that a long and static war only serves Russia’s ends. That’s why he and his ministers will be speaking to our allies across the world in the days and weeks ahead to ramp up pressure on Putin and secure a better future for Ukraine.
In the lead up to the one-year anniversary of the invasion, the Prime Minister will seek to demonstrate the UK’s power as an international catalyst with influence across NATO, the G7, the Joint Expeditionary Force and elsewhere.
He will work with partners to put Ukraine in the strongest possible place to enter future peace negotiations from a position of military, economic and diplomatic strength and secure a strong and lasting peace.
Sunak call with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. The Prime Minister spoke to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on January 13th. The leaders reflected on the current state of Russia’s war in Ukraine, with successive Ukrainian victories pushing Russian troops back and compounding their military and morale issues.
They agreed on the need to seize on this moment with an acceleration of global military and diplomatic support to Ukraine.
The Prime Minister outlined the UK’s ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine, including through the provision of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems.
The Prime Minister and President Zelenskyy welcomed other international commitments in this vein, including Poland’s offer to provide a company of Leopard tanks.
The Prime Minister stressed that he and the whole UK Government would be working intensively with international partners to deliver rapidly the kind of support which will allow Ukraine to press their advantage, win this war and secure a lasting peace.
14 Jan 23. Royal Navy joins Norway’s biggest maritime workout to train submarine commanders. The Royal Navy joined Norway’s annual maritime workout to test submarine commanders of tomorrow and safeguard NATO’s northern flank.
Attack submarine HMS Artful and frigate HMS Northumberland joined the bulk of the Sjøforsvaret – the Royal Norwegian Navy – plus Danish warships, F-35 stealth fighters, and long-range maritime patrol aircraft during the fortnight-long Flotex.
Artful has been hosting would-be submarine Commanding Officers undertaking the live-action phase of the legendary Submarine Command Course (aka Perisher), which determines whether someone has the ‘right stuff’ to be in command of a submarine.
The exercise provided plenty of ‘targets’ for the Perisher students, as well as plenty of opponents to try to hunt them down – led by HMS Northumberland, designed and built to track the enemy below.
The near-sub-zero waters of the Norwegian Sea and Arctic, not to mention the many inlets and fjords, make for particularly challenging conditions for hunter and hunted alike (water temperature is just one important factor affecting the propagation of sound in water).
“Flotex provided a warfare scenario that was complex enough to meet my training aims in an area of ever-changing conditions which confused picture compilation, with fjords which made for demanding dived navigation, all of which combined to challenge my students to their limit,” said Commander ‘Mac’ McAllister, the Perisher course’s lead instructor – known as ‘teacher’.
“I am extremely grateful to the Norwegian Navy for allowing us to participate in their exercise, and for the all the ships, aircraft and submarines we worked with.”
Having operated and trained in the High North frequently over the past 12 months HMS Northumberland has grown used to the environment, but relished the chance to test herself against the second youngest hunter-killer submarine in the Royal Navy’s flotilla.
“This training tested the ship’s company and helped to ensure that they remained at the highest standard of war-fighting ahead of future deployments and patrols,” said Underwater Staff Warfare Officer Lieutenant Commander Aaron Goodwin.
The hunt was assisted by the frigate’s Merlin helicopter – like the ship, designed and built to find hostile submarines.
“The opportunity to train with and against HMS Artful is a definite highlight of my career,” said Lieutenant Michael Moxom who, as flight observer, leads the Merlin in the hunt.
“I and the rest of the team feel much better prepared for future operations because of it.”
Commodore Trond Gimmingsrud, commander of the Norwegian Fleet, said he was delighted both Northumberland and Artful could join his navy’s premier exercise.
“We have a long history with close collaboration with the Royal Navy, and its participation in Flotex is valuable to us. It makes them familiar with operating in our waters, and strengthen our abilities to operate together,” he added.
“We are able to offer challenging conditions in our waters, and are happy to welcome the Royal Navy to train and use our waters to certify new commanders for their submarine crews.”
Commander Will Edwards-Bannon, Northumberland’s Commanding Officer, said the Flotex was the icing on the cake on the frigate’s time in the High North, with the ship benefitting from Norwegian support and hospitality.
“HMS Northumberland has been very fortunate to spend a lot of time training in Norwegian waters and operating with our Sjøforsvaret friends,” he said.
“The challenging conditions – both above and below the waves – have been the perfect environment for my crew to hone their skills and assure our ability to defend NATO’s Northern Flank.” (Source: Royal Navy)
13 Jan 23. NATO spy planes heading to Romania to monitor Russian activity.NATO said Friday it plans to deploy three surveillance planes to Romania next week to perform reconnaissance missions and to “monitor Russian military activity ” within the 30-nation military alliance’s territory. The airborne warning and control system surveillance planes, or AWACS, belong to a fleet of 14 usually based in Germany.
Three of the aircraft will be sent Tuesday to an air base near Romania’s capital, Bucharest, on a mission expected to last several weeks, the 30-nation alliance said in a statement.
The planes “can detect aircraft hundreds of kilometers away, making them a key capability for NATO’s deterrence and defense posture,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a statement.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, NATO has bolstered its presence on Europe’s eastern front, including by sending additional battlegroups to Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
AWACS have conducted “regular patrols over eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea region to track Russian warplanes near NATO borders” throughout the Russia-Ukraine war, the statement said.
The NATO planes, Boeing E-3s, were jointly purchased at a cost of almost $8 billion in 1977 at the height of the Cold War, when Jimmy Carter became U.S. president and as a missile crisis with the Soviet Union was beginning to fester in Europe.
Along with a small drone fleet in Italy, the planes are among the few military assets that NATO owns as an alliance. They’ve been routinely refurbished to ensure that they can keep flying until 2035.
Some of the planes were deployed in U.S. skies 24 hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help protect cities and nuclear power plants. Beyond their role as NATO’s eye in the sky, the planes can be used for air-policing, support in counterterrorism or evacuation operations, and provide help during natural disasters. (Source: Defense News)
14 Jan 23. Germany’s defence minister Christine Lambrecht plans to step down, according to a German government source, following a series of errors that badly hurt her credibility as commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces. The person said Lambrecht could announce her decision to resign as early as next week. Her resignation will trigger huge uncertainty at a time when Germany is facing a momentous decision on whether to break with longstanding policy and supply battle tanks to Ukraine, a move that chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far been reluctant to make. Lambrecht was seen as a weak leader of a ministry that is at a critical juncture in its history. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Scholz’s government promised a massive increase in military spending and created a €100bn investment fund for the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, marking a fresh start after years of underfunding. But the new equipment and weapons systems that Scholz promised for the military have yet to materialise, with Lambrecht often being blamed for the slow implementation of the spending reforms. Anger at the poor state of the Bundeswehr boiled over last month after a training exercise when all 18 Puma infantry vehicles deployed in the drill had to be taken out of service.
The Puma is one of the army’s most modern and advanced pieces of kit. Bild Zeitung, the mass circulation daily, first reported Lambrecht’s intention to resign, saying she herself had taken the decision and was not being sacked by Scholz. Potential replacements include Eva Högl, the parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, and Siemtje Möller, the junior defence minister. Another possible successor is Lars Klingbeil, leader of Lambrecht’s party, the Social Democrats (SPD), who comes from a military family. But Klingbeil’s chances are seen as slim, because Scholz is committed to having an equal number of male and female ministers in his cabinet, and bringing in the SPD leader would upset the gender balance. Lambrecht has long been one of the least popular ministers in Scholz’s cabinet. But calls for her resignation intensified after an awkward New Year’s address on Instagram in which she struggled to make herself heard above the noise of exploding fireworks and firecrackers in central Berlin. In the video she referred to the war raging in Ukraine and then added that the conflict was associated for her with “many special impressions, many encounters with interesting, great people”. The address was seen as spectacularly misjudged, even by close allies in the SPD, while many cabinet colleagues were left speechless with embarrassment. “After that debacle she was a dead woman walking,” said one person familiar with the situation. The opposition Christian Democrats called on Scholz immediately to sack her after the Instagram scandal, but he stood by her. Only a few days ago, his spokesman said that the chancellor had a good and trusting relationship with all his cabinet colleagues, and “that holds true” for Lambrecht too. In an interview in December, Scholz described her as a “first-class defence minister”. The Instagram faux pas was the latest of a series of gaffes that had left Lambrecht’s reputation in tatters. In December 2021 she admitted in an interview that she did not know the various army ranks: five months later she told another newspaper that she still did not know them. She was widely mocked shortly after the start of the Ukraine war when she was asked if Germany would provide military aid and replied that it would send Kyiv 5,000 helmets. (Source: FT.com)
13 Jan 23. Belgian F-16s take over BENELUX airspace surveillance task.
The fighter jets will be deployed to two Belgian airbases, Kleine-Brogel and Florennes. The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has handed over the responsibility of guarding the Belgian, Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX) airspace to its southern neighbour Belgium.
With the transfer of responsibility, the Belgian Air Force will now provide its F-16 fighter jets to continue surveillance duties as the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) fighter aircraft.
The two countries will take up this surveillance duty alternatively for several months at a time. At least two fighter jets are constantly available on standby for this task.
According to the RNLAF, the forces need to ensure the permanent availability of a minimum of two fighter jets due to the short warning time.
The jets are required to take off within minutes to intercept any unidentified aircraft tracked in the BENELUX airspace.
As part of the latest deployment, the Belgian F-16 jets will be present at two air bases for the next few months. The bases include Kleine-Brogel in the north of Belgium, and Florennes in the south of the country.
The operations undertaken by the Belgian aircraft will be controlled by the Control and Reporting Centre in Beauvechain, Belgium.
This centre is responsible for sending alerts to the deployed aircraft if an unidentified aircraft enters the BENELUX airspace without prior permission.
However, the Dutch fighters were controlled by another centre in Nieuw Milligen, called Air Operations Control Station.
The Dutch forces assumed the QRA tasks last September and were responsible for conducting this mission until 12 January.
During their deployment, the RNLAF’s F-16 fighter pilots from the Volkel Air Base in North Brabant, Netherlands.
The BENELUX agreement to carry out this surveillance mission in the combined airspace was finalised in 2015.
However, the countries started performing the associated air policing tasks in 2017.
12 Jan 23. Observing part of the first formal oral evidence session of the year yesterday by the House of Commons Defence Select Committee on the subject of ‘Land Acquisition’ which translated means Army procurement programmes with a particular focus on armoured vehicle procurement such as Ajax my first thought when looking at those giving evidence was to question how long each had been in their respective jobs.
Minister for Defence Procurement Alex Chalk has been in his post as long as Rishi Sunak has been prime minister although for all that, he performed well. MOD Permanent Secretary, David Williams knows his subject well enough having been in post since March 2021 and was in fact appointed as Second Permanent Secretary a year earlier in March 2020. Lieutenant General Sharon Nesmith has been serving as Deputy Chief of the General Staff since August 2022 whilst Major General Darren Crook, Director Land Equipment has been in post since December 2019.
Well briefed all will have been as to the likely questions proffered by the Committee and of those that I specifically heard before being called away, all performed well. My point though is twofold: firstly, with the exception of the Permanent Secretary none have been in their specific jobs more than six months and secondly: none are able to speak with authority or of course, could be expected to be accountable for some of the disasters that we have witnessed in Army related procurement programmes.
What concerns me is that while the Defence Select Committee and Public Accounts Committee do a superb job in ensuring those in the current military, civil service and ministerial positions are made accountable for their actions those that caused some of the problems that each of them face are all too rarely made to account for the past mistakes made.
Accountability is and should not be reserved for examination of current procurement issues alone. Senior Responsible Officers at the time of the original procurement along with former ministers, public servants, those within industry at the time and also serving and former military officers should surely also be asked to account for their actions and provide government committees with evidence and their own specific points of view of what may or may not have gone wrong on any military procurement.
Fortunately issues such as we have witnessed throughout the Ajax armoured vehicle procurement are rare but we must in my view redouble our efforts to ensure that we can learn from the lesson of Ajax in regard od future military procurement programmes. Another argument is that those involved at the start of a procurement programme are often too quickly promoted and move on meaning that they are no longer accountable and also, that some who are involved may well have insufficient background and experience to be involved in complex military programmes and procurement?
For that to occur, to properly learn from past mistakes and to provide the benefits required to ensure that we get better at procurement in the future means that accountability for actions should not end when those who were involved from the start of each and every large procurement programme are promoted or retire. (Source: Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.)
11 Jan 23. UK troops able to deploy to Japan as historic defence agreement signed. The UK and Japan are to be able to deploy forces in each other’s countries as part of a landmark new defence agreement.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed a major defence treaty with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Tower of London on Wednesday following years of negotiations.
Downing Street says the deal will cement the UK’s commitment to Indo-Pacific security, allowing both forces to plan and deliver larger-scale, complex military exercises and deployments.
The UK is the first European country to have a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) with Japan, the most important defence treaty between the UK and Japan since 1902.
The defence treaties will now be laid before Japan’s Diet and the UK Parliament in the coming weeks.
The signing comes just weeks after the UK and Japan teamed up, alongside Italy, to develop the next generation of combat air fighter jets under the new Global Combat Air Programme.
Last month, the UK and Japan also launched a new UK-Japan digital partnership to strengthen co-operation across cyber resilience, online safety and semiconductors.
Mr Sunak said “in the past 12 months, we have written the next chapter of the relationship between the UK and Japan – accelerating, building and deepening our ties”.
“We have so much in common: a shared outlook on the world, a shared understanding of the threats and challenges we face, and a shared ambition to use our place in the world for global good, ensuring our countries prosper for generations to come.
“In this increasingly competitive world, it is more important than ever that democratic societies continue to stand shoulder to shoulder as we navigate the unprecedented global challenges of our time.” (Source: forces.net)
10 Jan 23. Armenia cancels military drills, widening rift with Moscow. The prime minister of Armenia said Tuesday that his country has refused to host military drills planned by a Russia-dominated security pact, an announcement that reflected the Armenian government’s growing tensions with Moscow. Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly criticized Russian peacekeepers for failure to secure free transit along a corridor linking Armenia and the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh that Azerbaijani activists have blocked since last month.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Pashinyan said that Armenia considers the military exercise the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization planned for later this year “inappropriate in the current situation.”
“At least this year, these drills won’t take place,” he said.
Pashinyan’s move followed his refusal in the fall to sign a conclusive document from a meeting of the leaders of CSTO member nations in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since a separatist war there ended in 1994. That conflict left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but large chunks of surrounding lands in Armenian hands.
In 44 days of heavy fighting that began in September 2020, the Azerbaijani military routed Armenian forces, forcing Yerevan to accept a Russia-brokered peace deal that saw the return to Azerbaijan of a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement also required Armenia to hand over swaths of land it held outside the separatist region.
Lachin province, which lies between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, was the last of the three areas on the rim of Nagorno-Karabakh that Armenian forces surrendered in December 2020. Russia deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers for at least five years to ensure safe transit across the region, to monitor the peace deal and to help refugees return.
But travel across the Lachin corridor has been blocked since Dec. 12 by Azerbaijani activists, who demanded access to what Azerbaijan has described as unlawful mining sites in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian authorities have described the blockade as part of efforts by Azerbaijan to extend its control over the region and urged the Russian peacekeepers to unblock the road.
The Azerbaijani move has left Russia in a precarious position. Armenia hosts a Russian military base, and Moscow has been the country’s top ally and sponsor. But the Kremlin also has sought to maintain warm ties with oil-rich Azerbaijan. Western sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine have made Russia increasingly dependent on Azerbaijan’s main ally, Turkey.
With its attention focused on the fighting in Ukraine, Russia has taken a wait-and-see attitude on the Lachin corridor blockade, angering Armenia.
“Russia’s military presence in Armenia not only fails to guarantee its security, but it raises security threats for Armenia,” Pashinyan said Tuesday.
He noted that the blockade of the Lachin corridor is intended to “break the will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” adding that Armenia will also seek support from the U.S. and the European Union to help ease the tensions with Azerbaijan.
After the Russian peacekeepers’ five-year mandate is over, Armenia could invite U.N. peacekeepers to come in “if Russia fails to fulfill its function to ensure security for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinyan said.
The Russia-brokered 2020 peace deal also called for the creation of a transportation link between Azerbaijani and its Nakchivan exclave via Armenian territory. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia on Tuesday of reneging on its promise to provide such a transit corridor.
“Whether Armenia wants it or not, it will be implemented,” Aliyev said in televised remarks, describing the corridor to Nakchivan as Azerbaijan’s “natural right.” He added, though, that Azerbaijan has no plans to wage another war against Armenia.
Asked to comment on Armenia’s decision to cancel the planned military drills, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would ask Yerevan to clarify its position. “In any case, Armenia is our close ally, and we will continue our dialogue, including the most complex issues,” he told reporters.
Peskov previously rejected a claim by the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council that Moscow had pressured Armenia to join a union of Russia and Belarus.
Commenting on the claim Tuesday, Pashinyan said that Moscow had not made any official request to that effect but noted that “the reality isn’t as simple as it seems.” He added: “Sometimes, it’s not the text but the subtext that needs to be considered.”
“Armenia’s sovereignty is an absolute value,” the prime minister said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/AP)
11 Jan 23. Sunak hosts Japanese PM and agrees historic defence agreement.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set to sign major defence agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on his visit to London.
- Rishi Sunak set to sign major defence agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on his visit to London today
- Comes just weeks after the Global Combat Air Programme launch between the UK, Japan and Italy, and agreement on a new UK-Japan digital partnership
- Leaders also expected to discuss Japan’s presidency of the G7 and the need to maintain our collective support for Ukraine
The Prime Minister will sign a landmark defence agreement with the Japanese Prime Minister at the Tower of London today [Wednesday 11 January], allowing UK forces to be deployed to Japan in the most significant defence agreement between the two countries in more than a century.
Years of negotiation will culminate in the signing today, which will rapidly accelerate defence and security cooperation and allow the UK and Japan to deploy forces in one another’s countries. It will also cement the UK’s commitment to Indo-Pacific security, allowing both forces to plan and deliver larger scale, more complex military exercises and deployments.
The UK will be the first European country to have a Reciprocal Access Agreement with Japan, the most important defence treaty between the UK and Japan since 1902.
The UK and Japan agreed the RAA in principle in May, with work ongoing to finalise preparations ahead of the signing today. The defence treaties will be laid before Japan’s Diet and the UK Parliament in the coming weeks.
The signing comes just weeks after the UK and Japan teamed up, alongside Italy, to develop the next generation of combat air fighter jets under the new Global Combat Air Programme. Last month, the UK and Japan also launched a new UK-Japan digital partnership to strengthen cooperation across cyber resilience, online safety and semiconductors.
All three agreements reinforce the UK’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific, and exemplify the depth of friendship between the UK and Japan.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “In the past 12 months, we have written the next chapter of the relationship between the UK and Japan – accelerating, building and deepening our ties. We have so much in common: a shared outlook on the world, a shared understanding of the threats and challenges we face, and a shared ambition to use our place in the world for global good, ensuring our countries prosper for generations to come. This Reciprocal Access Agreement is hugely significant for both our nations – it cements our commitment to the Indo-Pacific and underlines our joint efforts to bolster economic security, accelerate our defence cooperation and drive innovation that creates highly skilled jobs. In this increasingly competitive world, it is more important than ever that democratic societies continue to stand shoulder to shoulder as we navigate the unprecedented global challenges of our time. In addition to defence and security challenges, the leaders are expected to discuss trade, including the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade bloc with a combined GDP of £9trn in GDP and home to more than 500 m people.”
The leaders will also discuss Japan’s current presidency of the G7, the need to maintain our collective support for Ukraine as we approach the first anniversary of Russia’s illegal invasion, and the UK’s support for Prime Minister Kishida’s focus on economic security, including supply chain resilience.
On Ukraine, the Prime Minister is expected to raise how international support from the UK and G7 partners can be used most strategically to help Ukrainian forces continue their progress on the battlefield and secure a lasting peace.
He will also pay tribute to Japan’s significant package of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, including a recent delivery of generators.
While at the Tower of London today, the leaders will visit Japanese armour on display, which was presented to King James VI and I in 1613 by the then Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada of Japan. The military gift was given to King James to mark the first ever trade agreement between England and Japan.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will host the UK-Japan 21st Century Group at Downing Street on Thursday. The coalition of British and Japanese private sector, public sector, and civil society leaders aims to promote dialogue and cooperation between the two countries. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
10 Jan 23. Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- The NATO-EU strategic partnership is founded on our shared values, our determination to tackle common challenges and our unequivocal commitment to promote and safeguard peace, freedom and prosperity in the Euro-Atlantic area.
- Today, we are faced with the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades. Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine violates international law and the principles of the UN Charter. It undermines European and global security and stability. Russia’s war has exacerbated a food and energy crisis affecting bns of people around the world.
- We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s aggression. Russia must immediately stop this war and withdraw from Ukraine. We express our full solidarity with Ukraine and reiterate our unwavering and continued support for its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We fully support Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defence and to choose its own destiny
- Authoritarian actors challenge our interests, values and democratic principles using multiple means – political, economic, technological and military.
- We live in an era of growing strategic competition. China’s growing assertiveness and policies present challenges that we need to address.
- Persistent conflict, fragility and instability in our European neighbourhood undermine our security and provide fertile ground for strategic competitors, as well as terrorist groups, to gain influence, destabilise societies and pose a threat to our security.
- As underlined by both the NATO Strategic Concept and the EU Strategic Compass, this is a key juncture for Euro-Atlantic security and stability, more than ever demonstrating the importance of the transatlantic bond, calling for closer EU-NATO cooperation.
- NATO remains the foundation of collective defence for its Allies and essential for Euro Atlantic security. We recognise the value of a stronger and more capable European defence that contributes positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary to, and interoperable with NATO.
- Our mutually reinforcing strategic partnership contributes to strengthening security in Europe and beyond. NATO and the EU play complementary, coherent and mutually reinforcing roles in supporting international peace and security. We will further mobilize the combined set of instruments at our disposal, be they political, economic or military, to pursue our common objectives to the benefit of our one bn citizens.
- Building on the 2016 Warsaw Joint Declaration and the 2018 Brussels Joint Declaration, which significantly expanded the breadth and depth of our partnership established more than twenty years ago, we have achieved unprecedented progress across all areas of cooperation.
- We have reached tangible results in countering hybrid and cyber threats, operational cooperation including maritime issues, military mobility, defence capabilities, defence industry and research, exercises, counter terrorism, and capacity-building of partners.
- As the security threats and challenges we are confronted with are evolving in scope and magnitude, we will take our partnership to the next level on the basis of our long-standing cooperation. We will further strengthen our cooperation in existing areas, and expand and deepen our cooperation to address in particular the growing geostrategic competition, resilience issues, protection of critical infrastructures, emerging and disruptive technologies, space, the security implications of climate change, as well as foreign information manipulation and interference.
- In signing this declaration we will take the NATO-EU partnership forward in close consultation and cooperation with all NATO Allies and EU Member States, in the spirit of full mutual openness and in compliance with the decision-making autonomy of our respective organisations and without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any of our members. In this context, we view transparency as crucial. We encourage the fullest possible involvement of the NATO Allies that are not members of the EU in its initiatives. We encourage the fullest possible involvement of the EU members that are not part of the Alliance in its initiatives.
- We will assess progress on a regular basis.
Signed at Brussels on 10 January 2023 in triplicate.
President of the European Council
Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Commission
Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
09 Jan 23. Germany: Arrest of suspected attack plotter underscores latent threat of Islamist extremism. On 8 January, the authorities announced they had arrested a 32-year old Iranian individual in Castrop-Rauxel (North Rhine-Westphalia state) for plotting a religiously motivated chemical attack. According to police statements, the suspect was allegedly planning to carry out an attack by procuring cyanide and ricin, though the police have yet to find traces of said chemicals. The investigation is ongoing. While the threat of Islamist extremism has decreased in Germany in recent years, this development underscores that it remains a latent threat. Sole-perpetrator attacks are more likely than those planned by groups, as they are harder to detect. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Jan 23. Dutch Navy hands over SNMG1’s command to Germany. The RNLN’s vessels primarily operated in the Baltic and the North Sea regions. The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) has officially handed over the command of the Standing Nato Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) to their German counterparts.
Announced by Nato’s Allied Maritime Command, the change in command was marked by a ceremony held on 6 January at the RNLN’s main naval base at Den Helder in North Holland.
During the ceremony, RNLN commander Jeanette Morang handed over the SNMG1 banner to German Navy rear admiral Thorsten Marx.
Thorsten said: “Together, we show that Nato is ready and standing as one. For that, we strive daily to ensure that our task group is visible, persistent and as ready for tomorrow as we are today.”
The Netherlands took over the command of SNMG1 in July last year. The deployed task force primarily operated in the Baltic and the North Sea regions, contributing to Nato’s collective defence commitment.
The Dutch vessels deployed as part of the task force included Karel Doorman-class ships HNLMS Van Amstel (F831) and HNLMS Karel Doorman, an NH90 Nato Frigate Helicopter, HNLMS Rotterdam, De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates, De Zeven Provinciën (F802), along with the flagship HNLMS Tromp (F803).
Morang said: “We have spread Nato’s message across Europe, from Lisbon in the south, to Bergen in the north, and Helsinki in the east.
“Every ship and every crew member have shown that they want to do everything to contribute to this. As Nato, we have shown that we can defend ourselves, if necessary, in these uncertain times.”
The new vessels in the SNMG1 include Germany’s Brandenburg-class frigate FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Polish Navy’s ORP General T Kosziuszko and French Navy’s FREMM multipurpose frigate FS Aquitaine.
07 Jan 23. Prince Harry accused of ‘betraying the military’ and endangering serving soldiers after Taliban kill claim.
Colonel Richard Kemp warned jihadists would exploit Duke of Sussex’s ‘badly judged’ comments which will ‘feed into propaganda’
Prince Harry has been accused of “betraying” the military and putting serving British soldiers and the greater public at risk after claiming to have killed 25 Taliban insurgents.
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, warned jihadists would exploit the Duke of Sussex’s “badly judged” comments where he revealed how many people he killed while on tour in Afghanistan.
Col Kemp told The Telegraph: “His words will be fed into jihadist propaganda to carry out attacks against the UK.”
In Spare, his ghostwritten memoir, the Duke reveals how in 2012 he flew on six missions during his second tour in Afghanistan and killed 25 Taliban fighters, whom he viewed as “chess pieces removed from the board”.
“These comments feed into propaganda and help the jihadists to recruit and radicalise people to carry out attacks against British civilians and soldiers,” Col Kemp said.
Colonel Tim Collins, who gave an inspirational battle speech on the eve of the 2003 Iraq invasion, accused the Duke of “betraying” the military in the same way he has betrayed his family.
He said: “I think he’s completely naive. There’s no understanding of what he’s doing and what he has done.
“The military has always embraced him into the family no matter what had gone on before. He’s now betrayed that trust in the same way he’s betrayed his birth family.”
Col Collins added: “Amongst his assertions is a claim that he killed 25 people in Afghanistan. That’s not how you behave in the Army; it’s not how we think. He has badly let the side down. We don’t do notches on the rifle butt. We never did.”
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons defence select committee and a former British Army captain, also stressed the security implications that Prince Harry’s kill count could have.
He said: “From a security perspective, there is the unwritten assumption that nobody publicly discusses kill counts for the principal reason that it can have security repercussions.
“There should be no pride taken in scalps accumulated in any battles.” (Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/)
08 Jan 23. Sweden warns it cannot meet Turkey’s demands for backing Nato bid. Stockholm has fulfilled commitments made to Ankara at Madrid summit, says premier Ulf Kristersson. Sweden has said Turkey is demanding concessions that Stockholm cannot give to approve its application to join Nato as the prime minister insisted the country had done all it could to meet Ankara’s concerns. Ulf Kristersson, the new centre-right leader, on Sunday threw down the gauntlet to Turkey in the clearest indication yet from Stockholm that it could do no more to help persuade Turkey to drop its opposition to Sweden and neighbouring Finland joining the western military alliance. “Turkey confirms that we have done what we said we would do. But they also say that they want things that we can’t and won’t give them. So the decision is now with Turkey,” Kristersson told a Swedish defence conference. Sweden’s new government has said that joining Nato is its top priority, and its application has been approved by 28 of the alliance’s 30 members. But Hungary — whose parliament is expected to ratify Sweden and Finland’s membership bids in the coming weeks — and Turkey have yet to do so. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly accused Sweden of harbouring Kurdish terrorists and alleged members of an Islamic sect blamed for a 2016 abortive coup. Erdoğan has singled out one journalist — Bülent Keneş, a former editor-in-chief of the Today’s Zaman daily — and demanded his deportation over his alleged role in the coup attempt. Sweden’s Supreme Court in December rejected the extradition request, ruling that Keneş risked persecution for his political views in Turkey. Stockholm has made a number of concessions to Ankara, including distancing itself from a Kurdish militia, lifting an embargo on weapons exports to Turkey and stressing it would work to combat terrorism. (Source: FT.com)
06 Jan 23. Sweden vows to push defense collaboration, cyber defense at EU helm. Sweden’s half-year rotating presidency of the European Union, which began on Jan. 1, is shaped to deliver a sharper focus on the need to deepen collaboration among member states in the key areas of defense capabilities and joint military procurements.
Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson’s Moderate-led coalition government, which was elected to office after parliamentary elections in September 2022, has identified “unity of purpose” and the strengthening of European defense readiness and capacities as primary targets during the term of its presidency.
Sweden, against the backdrop of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, favors solutions that can advance the collective defense of Europe using weapons and allied military equipment that are not only made in the EU but acquired under joint procurement arrangements.
The framework for Sweden’s presidency prioritizes continued EU economic and military support for Ukraine. A longstanding target of hostile threats from Moscow, Sweden embodies the Nordic view that Ukraine’s success in its war efforts against Russia is paramount to building a robust European security and defense policy.
Sweden is using the EU’s Strategic Compass, which is tailored to provide a shared strategic threat assessment of the challenges the bloc faces, as its guiding light. In particular, Stockholm is keen to deepen EU defense cooperation with NATO and develop a long-term capital investment program to bolster European defense.
Achieving a more meaningful level of pan-EU collaboration within the cybersecurity domain has emerged as one of Sweden’s critical targets. This goal gained traction on Jan. 3, when the European Commission (EC) presented a far-reaching Joint Communication (JC) for an EU common cyber defense policy to the European Parliament.
The proposal would help boost the bloc’s cyber defense posture, said Pål Jonson, Sweden’s defense minister.
“The ambition is to strengthen the EU’s cyber defense capabilities, as well as give individual states the tools to conduct joint cyber operations. It will also improve inter-state coordination, information sharing and interoperability between cyber security and cyber defense, including between the civil and military cyber communities,” said Jonson. (Source: Defense News)
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