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07 Oct 23. Denmark to re-start ammunition production at repurchased arms plant. Denmark’s defence ministry aims to restart ammunition production after a 55-year gap to ensure its domestic supplies as the war in Ukraine creates increased demand for military hardware across Europe.
The ministry said in a statement on Saturday it had entered into an agreement to buy a mothballed arms factory in the northwest of the country, which was used as Denmark’s only ammo supplier from its establishment in 1676 until 1968.
The ministry said it had agreed to pay 19.6 million Danish crowns ($2.8 million) to buy back the plant in Elling in North Jutland that it sold for 18 million crowns in 2008, news agency Ritzau said, citing Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.
“Ammunition production in Europe is under severe pressure, and we should also try to find solutions in Denmark to contribute where we can based on Danish needs,” Lund Poulsen said in the statement.
“It will take time before we are ready with production, but therefore it is also good that we are now getting started with the work,” Lund Poulsen added.
The statement didn’t give any details about the type of ammunition it aimed to make at the factory, which is being bought from a consortium called Krudten Erhvervspark. The plant had previously been owned by a private Spanish company and was in use until 2020.
08 Oct 23. Mideast violence benefits Russia, adds to migration pressure on EU -Polish president. The current violence between Hamas and Israel works in Russia’s favour as it distracts international attention from Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine and may result in new migration pressures on Europe, Poland’s president Andrzej Duda said on Sunday.
Poland, a staunch supporter of Kyiv since Russia launched its invasion in early 2022, has sheltered more than a million Ukrainian refugees. But it has flatly rejected any European Union mechanisms which would require it to take in a share of the irregular migrants entering the bloc from other directions.
“It certainly benefits Russia and Russian aggression against Ukraine. It distracts the world’s attention… But above all, I am afraid that it will unfortunately cause further migration pressure on Europe,” Duda said in an interview with private broadcaster Polsat News.
“We will likely have another wave of migrants from the Middle East, which will hit Europe… Our security, protection of Poland’s borders of course, also the borders of the European Union and the Schengen zone, becomes even more important.”
Since mid-2021, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have seen an increase in the number of mainly Middle Eastern and African migrants trying to enter illegally from Belarus, which they accuse of facilitating such crossings, a claim Minsk rejects. (Source: Reuters)
06 Oct 23. UK reinforcements arrive in Kosovo for NATO peacekeeping mission. The first British soldiers of a two hundred-strong deployment arrived in Kosovo today to reinforce NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR).
The deployment is based on a request by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and comes after the violent attack on Kosovo Police on 24 September and increased tensions in the region.
The soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment are joining a more than 400-strong British contingent already in Kosovo as part of an annual exercise. That contingent has remained in Kosovo to support stability. The peacekeeping force will include not only troops, but also hundreds of vehicles arriving by sea freight.
Under NATO command, the forces will be available to conduct operations in accordance with KFOR’s mandate to maintain a safe and secure environment and ensure freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK is a leading NATO Ally. Within a few days, the UK has responded to NATO’s call for reinforcements and deployed 200 additional soldiers from the First Battalion Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment for the Kosovo Force (KFOR). This shows the agility of the UK’s Armed Forces. As the best of the best, I know our soldiers will do the UK proud.”
NATO has been leading a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo since 1999 in accordance with its mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. KFOR currently consists of more than 4,500 troops contributed by 27 NATO Allies and partners.
The UK contributes to the full spectrum of KFOR’s work, with two intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) units deployed, UK staff officers assigned to the mission headquarters as well as a Strategic Reserve Force commitment, which currently rests with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. The UK commitment to KFOR was extended in May 2023 when the Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey announced the UK would continue to contribute to the NATO mission until at least 2026.
The UK is also working closely with international partners to urge Kosovo and Serbia to de-escalate tensions and return to dialogue. The Prime Minister spoke to both President Vucic of Serbia and President Osmani of Kosovo, at the European Political Community meeting in Granada yesterday, encouraging de-escalation. Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty, is also due to meet Serbian and Kosovan Foreign Ministers in the Albanian capital today during a meeting of the Berlin Process, a forum focused on fostering increased regional cooperation in the Western Balkans. This builds on the work of Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the Western Balkans, Lord Peach, who regularly engages with both Serbian and Kosovan stakeholders to promote regional stability. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 Oct 23. NATO urges arms production boost as warehouses ‘half full.’ The arms industry needs to ramp up weapons and ammunition production as “the bottom of the barrel is now visible” due to the war in Ukraine, NATO Military Committee head Admiral Rob Bauer said on Tuesday.
NATO has been pressing for a boost in defence production to satisfy a demand for weapons and equipment that has soared since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, as allies not only rush supplies to Kyiv but also build up their own inventories.
Speaking on the first day of the Warsaw Security Forum, Bauer said budgets had already risen years before the war, but the industry had not increased production capacity.
“And that has led to higher prices already before the war. And that actually has (been) exacerbated by the fact that we now give away weapon systems to Ukraine, which is great, and ammunition, but not from full warehouses,” he said.
“We started to give away from half-full or lower warehouses in Europe and therefore the bottom of the barrel is now visible. And we need the industry to ramp up production in a much higher tempo and we need large volumes.”
Bauer last month warned that a drastic rise in ammunition prices meant that allies’ higher defence spending did not automatically translate into greater security and called for more private investment in defence companies. (Source: Reuters)
04 Oct 23. UK PhD Student Charged with Terror for Designing Drone for ISIS. On Sept. 28, 2023, a student studying for his engineering PhD at Birmingham university was charged guilty for acts of terrorism after building a drone to supply to ISIS. Mohamad al Bared, a 26-year-old Coventry resident, was arrested on Jan. 31, 2023 when his house was raided by the police. During the raid it was found that he had been manufacturing a 3D printed drone for delivering chemical weapons.
According to West Midlands detectives, the suspect had been in constant contact with ISIS members as well as having extremist material and violent propaganda videos saved locally on his laptop. As a student studying chemical engineering, al Bared had also detailed chemical equations and recipes for chemical weapons in his notebook including ricin, sarin, and mustard gas. However, the chemical equations in question were clearly intended for weapons rather than part of the PhD research.
Furthermore, the documented conversations were found on his local device on how to get a drone into a war zone without being stopped by authorities as well as how to set up a faux company to pretend to be travelling on business. Head of Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said:
“Al-Bared was a calculated individual and coupled with his education and expertise in mechanical and chemical engineering he was clearly very dangerous”.
While al Bared’s lawyer argued that he had made the drone for his own research and the previous material on his devices were due to him researching ISIS to debate against its views, it is pretty clear that his intentions were focused elsewhere.
The drone in question was 3D printed at home using his Elegoo Neptune 2.
Released images shows that the drone was printed with PLA+ wings and skeletons with a Styrofoam fuselage skin. Amongst 3D printed drone hobbyist, the norm is to use lightweight LW-PLA rather than the denser PLA+ that comes stock with any printer. Therefore, it can be concluded that al Bared was inexperienced with aircraft design and the drone was not structurally sound for proper payload delivery even if it had gone into the hands of the terrorist organisation.
According to Prosecutor Michelle Heeley, the drone “was a prototype being developed, something that could easily be built in the field, the ‘brothers’, each drone being sent on its way to kill innocent people”.
Mohamad al Bared remains in custody and may face a lifetime sentence.
(Source: UAS VISION/The Aviationist)
03 Oct 23. Slovakia shift, elections in Poland dampen support for Ukraine. While Western support to provide military aid to Ukraine has been steadfast over the last nineteen months, a number of European states appear to be having a change of heart, opting to now prioritize domestic issues. Is European support for Ukraine doomed?
Since the war’s outbreak in February 2022, Poland has established itself as one of Ukraine’s firmest allies, supplying tanks, armored vehicles, howitzers, fighter jets, short-range man-portable air defense, or MANPAD, systems, and munitions, among others, to its neighbor.
Some of these donated weapons are outdated Soviet-designed gear that Warsaw has long been planning to replace with new equipment. This includes the supplied T-72 tanks for which Poland obtained a number of Challenger 2 tanks from the United Kingdom in an effort to “backfill” its operational needs.
However, in other cases, deliveries to Ukraine created temporary gaps in the Polish military’s capacities. Among others, last spring, Warsaw donated Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine’s Air Force before it received the first deliveries of South Korean FA-50 aircraft the country’s Ministry of National Defence ordered in 2022.
As Poland is heading towards a general election on Oct. 15, the issue of Warsaw’s relations with Kyiv has found itself at the center of the ongoing campaign. Over the past weeks, these relations have become increasingly stringent, as the two countries’ governments have clashed over an extended ban on Ukrainian grain imports. With rural voters likely to decide on the forthcoming vote’s outcome, the issue rapidly escalated into a diplomatic spat.
In a Sept. 20 interview with local broadcaster Polsat News, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared that, while maintaining support for Kyiv’s fight against Moscow’s invasion, his government has halted weapon supplies to Ukraine to focus on arming Poland’s armed forces.
“Ukraine is defending itself against a savage Russian attack, and we understand that this attack creates an extraordinary situation,” Morawiecki said during the interview. “We don’t donate any arms to Ukraine anymore, because we are now arming ourselves with the most modern weapons.”
Slovakia: ‘Not a single round’ to Ukraine
Another important Eastern European partner Ukraine has been able to count on previously has been Slovakia. Over the last nineteen months, the country has donated and pledged a variety of military equipment to Kyiv directly as well as via the German Ringtausch program. This has included a dozen MiG-29As fighter jets from its inventories, mine clearance systems, air to air missiles, ammunition, self-propelled artillery and more.
Yet, similar to what has taken place in Poland, the country appears to be changing its stance on arming Ukrainian troops. This change of heart has been driven by the newly elected pro-Russian Prime Minister in Slovakia, Robert Fico. One of the politician’s electoral slogans was “Not a single round,” for Ukraine, where he vowed to end military support to the war torn country.
During a press conference, following his victory on Oct. 2, Fico re-affirmed that this promise would be kept.
“We are not changing that we are prepared to help Ukraine in a humanitarian way… We are prepared to help the reconstruction of the state but you know our opinion on arming Ukraine,” he told reporters.
The official has argued that Slovakia currently has larger issues beyond the war to tend to, such as the spike in energy prices and living costs.
When asked about the delicate political context surrounding military aid to Ukraine, including the possibility that Donald Trump could be in office in 2024, Olga Stefanishyna, Ukrainian deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration appeared confident.
“Look, there are 17 different types of elections taking place around Europe, including within European institutions. It is certainly not the first or the last election of a U.S. President, but we are ready and prepared for that. We see a huge potential in strengthening bipartisan support for Ukraine,” she told the audience on Oct. 3 at the Warsaw Security Forum taking place here.
“Let’s not forget that yes it was leaders, but also people backing up the support for Ukraine [that made a difference]… One thing I am sure on earth, is that Europe will not let us down,” the official added.
Earlier this week, dozens of European Union ministers gathered in Kyiv to show continuing support after the pro-Russian candidate won the election. (Source: Defense News)
03 Oct 23. The Multinational Battlegroup in Slovakia Passes Capability Review, Is NATO Combat-Ready. Last week, 1,100 soldiers with three hundred pieces of equipment from the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Slovenia completed the final inspection of the multinational battalion of which they are a part. A successful certification exercise called Strong Cohesion 2023 took place at the Lešť Training Center and secured NATO Combat Ready status for the superior Multinational Battle Group.
During the past three months, the soldiers of the third rotation have been coordinating with their alliance partners in all areas. From tactical procedures, through the command and control system, to the logistical security of units across the entire battalion. Exercise Strong Cohesion 2023 represented the culmination of the training and cooperation of all members of the multinational battalion to date. During the exercise, the CREVAL international evaluation team focused on the functioning of the command and control system as well as communication. The filling with personnel, equipment and material and the coordination of the unit in terms of planning, preparation, leadership and management of operations were also checked.
“The certification took place under the command and control of the Slovak 2nd Mechanized Brigade from Prešov. Brigadier General Róbert Kecsö’s team was able to create challenging conditions for the certified battalion, in which all aspects of conducting combat activities were tested,” Colonel Miroslav Vybíhal, commander of the 3rd Task Group of the Czech Army, said about the certification process. Several dozen pieces of military equipment and more than a hundred soldiers of the Slovak Armed Forces were involved in the certification.
The task of the battalion during the exercise was to occupy the defense, exhaust the enemy with further fighting and thus create the conditions for a counterattack and the recapture of the occupied territory. The brunt of the battle was borne by Czech and Slovenian infantry fighting vehicles supported by German Leopard 2A6 tanks. A Czech mortar battery reinforced by a Slovak mortar platoon was an integral part of the ongoing maneuvers. “The objectives of the exercise have been met and the unit will be able to fulfill the tasks set before it,” Brigadier General Václav Vlček evaluated the results during the final phase of the Strong Cohesion 2023 exercise. By successfully completing the exercise, the Multinational Battalion achieved full operational capabilities. The multinational combat group in Slovakia received NATO Combat Ready status.
More than 300 pieces of military equipment took part in the exercise, from Czech BVP-2, Slovenian VALUK armored personnel carriers, German Leopard 2A6 tanks to TATRA 815-7 PRAM vehicles. Black Hawk helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles operated in the airspace.
The certification exercise represented the culmination of demanding training, which focused on joint training from the team, platoon, company level to the level of the entire battalion. Obtaining the Combat Ready certification confirmed that the months of joint training of international units, aimed at aligning and synchronizing not only tactical capabilities, but also areas such as communication, logistical support and reconnaissance, were successful. “We are able to fulfill the assigned operational task,” stated the commander of the Multinational Battle Group, Colonel Miroslav Vybíhal, regarding the obtained certification. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Czech Republic Ministry of Defence)
02 Oct 23. UK Government takes action to back small businesses and tackle late payments. Government announces measures to tackle late payment of invoices to support small businesses and grow the economy.
- Paying small businesses on time could boost the economy by £2.5bn annually
- Measures form part of wider government review on Cash Flow and Prompt Payment
The government has today announced tougher measures to tackle the issue of late payments to small businesses. These new measures will be included in the upcoming Prompt Payment & Cash Flow Review, due to be published shortly and will improve delivery and enforcement of policies, enabling more small businesses to get paid on time.
Late payment of invoices and long payment terms are key issues that businesses, especially SMEs, highlight as a barrier to their growth. Owners and managers are forced to spend disproportionate time chasing payments; resulting cash flow problems cause even good, viable firms to struggle.
In 2022, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) were owed on average an estimated £22,000 in late payments. Improving payment culture in the UK will support smaller businesses, many of which do not have the resources to accommodate long or late payments from their business customers and could boost the economy by £2.5 bn annually.
That is why the Government is extending and improving the Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regulations and conducted the Prompt Payment and Cash Flow Review.
New measures to be announced in the review will include:
- Extending the Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regulations 2017. Following consultation, Government will take forward legislation to extend payment performance reporting obligations. We will include new metrics for reporting, including a value metric, so businesses and commentators can see the value of invoices, including invoices paid late, and a disputed invoices metric. We will also introduce reporting on retention payments for businesses in the construction sector.
- Providing greater advice to small businesses on negotiating payment terms that better suit them, and on how going digital can help them get paid quicker and manage their cash flow.
- Broadening the powers of the Small Business Commissioner: Introducing broader responsibilities, enabling the Commissioner to undertake investigations and publish reports where necessary on the basis of anonymous information and intelligence. This will require primary legislation, so will be subject to the legislative timetable.
The stronger measures will benefit UK businesses by fostering a stronger payment culture and providing businesses with more predictable and reliable cash flow, allowing businesses to spend and invest with greater certainty.
It will reduce the time spent by businesses chasing payments, freeing up more time for other activities that will help them to grow. Tackling late and long payments provides an opportunity to increase investment and productivity across the economy.
This will improve payment culture in the UK to support smaller businesses, many of whom do not have the resources to accommodate long or late payments from their business customers.
Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch said: “SMEs make up 99 per cent of firms in the UK and are the lifeblood of our economy. I know that late payments are a massive barrier to growth and I am determined to fix that. The measures we’re announcing will take a big step towards making sure SMEs get their payments on time, helping firms to grow and prosper.”
- The Government will work with partners (such as business representative organisations) and other existing initiatives (Growth hubs, Help to Grow) to help deliver an improved payment culture which will include guides on negotiating payment terms.
- The powers of the Small Business Commissioner will be broadened, enabling it to undertake investigations and publish reports where necessary on the basis of anonymous information and intelligence.
- There will be closer integration of the Small Business Commissioner with other late payment functions.
- We will strengthen the Prompt Payment Code so that business signatories must reaffirm their commitment every two years to stay on it.
- We will extend the Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regulations, taking forward legislation to extend payment performance reporting obligations. This will include new metrics for reporting, including a value metric, so businesses and commentators can see the value of invoices, including invoices paid late, and a disputed invoices metric.
- There will be an effective and proportionate compliance regime to help ensure that businesses required by law to report their payment data, do so.
- We will promote the benefits of digital payment technologies and of embedding prompt payments as part of firms’ ESG (environmental, social, governance) programmes, if they have them. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
02 Oct 23. Balancing budgets and building strength in Switzerland’s defence landscape.
The Swiss defence budget will reach $11.4bn in 2028, driving modernisation efforts across the army, naval, and air force domains.
Harry McNeil October 2, 2023
Switzerland, renowned for its neutrality and breathtaking landscapes, is emerging as a strategic player in the defence arena.
Switzerland’s evolving defence landscape will see the defence budget surge from $9.3bn (SFr8.4bn) in 2024 to $11.4bn by 2028. As the nation invests in modernisation initiatives, budget trends, procurement programmes, and geopolitical influences are shaping the future of its armed forces, spanning the naval, army, and air domains.
Swiss defence budget on the rise
Switzerland’s defence budget has grown over the past decade, emphasising bolstering military capabilities. This trajectory is set to continue, driven by initiatives like Air2030 and the expansion of cyber defence collaborations.
According to GlobalData’s “Switzerland’s Defense Market 2023-2028” report, the annual growth rate of the defence budget is projected to rise, with a forecasted CAGR of 5.2% between 2024 and 2028, compared to a CAGR of 3% from 2019 to 2023.
The acquisition budget echoes this trend, experiencing a CAGR of 3.2% between 2019 and 2023, ultimately reaching $3.9bn in 2028. Financial allocations for acquisitions are slated to increase from 22.9% of the total budget in 2023 to 34.5% by 2028. However, a forthcoming review of Switzerland’s national security policy may lead to adjustments in defence spending based on future recommendations.
Expanding Army, Air Force, and Naval capabilities
The Swiss army, rooted in a militia system, is actively modernising to address evolving threats. Ongoing initiatives involve the replacement of combat aircraft and ground-based air defence systems, notably through the Air2030 programme. (Source: army-technology.com)
02 Oct 23. Turkey: Attack underscores latent terror threat exacerbated by anti-PKK campaign in Iraq, Syria. Early on 1 October, two attackers detonated an IED near government buildings in the capital Ankara, wounding two police officers. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has since claimed responsibility. A bombing in Istanbul in November 2022 was the most recent incident to impact a major Turkish urban centr. While the latest attack is unlikely to increase the current terror risk level, which remains ‘substantial’, it will likely dampen the travel and tourism sectors, which will lead to knock-on impacts for other industries. A ban on media access and publicising about the attack by the Ankara Criminal Court of Peace reflects the government’s sensitivity to terror-related developments and will sustain concerns over increased state oversight of the media. The Turkish military has neutralised over 20 PKK targets in Iraq in the past few days; further operations are likely throughout this month, sustaining security and cross-border risks, particularly in the tri-border area. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Oct 23. Kosovo-Serbia: Military confrontation is highly unlikely; tougher diplomatic approach is possible. On 29 September, Milan Radoičić, the deputy head of the main party representing ethnic-Serbs in North Kosovo, the Serb List, claimed responsibility for an armed clash with the Kosovar police on 24 September. Radoičić stated that the operation was conducted without the knowledge of the authorities in Belgrade; he subsequently resigned from his post. His claim is highly likely to pose further challenges to new local elections in North Kosovo, perpetuating the political impasse in its four municipalities. It will also possibly lead to a tougher diplomatic approach towards Belgrade by the EU and US. Meanwhile, Washington DC called on Belgrade on 29 September to withdraw a large deployment of military hardware from its border with Kosovo. The following day, Serbian President Aleksandr Vučić stated he had no intention of ordering the military to cross the border and that the build-up would be reduced. We continue to assess that a direct military confrontation between Serbia and Kosovo is highly unlikely. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Oct 23. Slovakia: Likely populist government will elevate corruption risks, dampen investment climate. On 30 September, Robert Fico’s populist party Smer-SD (Smer) won Slovakia’s snap elections with 23% of the vote, beating the Progressive Party (PS). Smer is likely to hold coalition talks with Hlas-SD (Hlas), which split from Smer in 2020, as well as the far-right SNS party. The leader of Smer has repeatedly advocated EU-sceptic and pro-Russian narratives. A coalition with Hlas would likely soften the EU-sceptic and pro-Russia stance of a government spearheaded by Smer. However, it also remains likely that such a government would adopt a far less Ukraine-friendly position than previous administrations; it would possibly seek to resist EU sanctions and further support for Kyiv. Any such pro-Russia government would likely dampen the investment climate and elevate risks for businesses operating in or with Slovakia, compounding the fallout of alleged corruption within previous Smer administrations. (Source: Sibylline)
29 Sep 23. Kosovo: Russia allegations will exacerbate tensions; risk of unrest in North Kosovo remains high. On 28 September, Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla stated that the government was investigating Russian involvement in a shootout between ethnic Serbs and Kosovar police in North Kosovo on 24 September. Sveçla also stated that there was evidence that Russian equipment was used in the attack and suspicions that individuals ‘from Russia’ participated. While we cannot verify these claims, the allegation of Russian involvement in itself is likely to exacerbate regional tensions. Moscow is a longstanding weapons supplier (and an ally) to Serbia; although it has a strategic interest in instability in the Western Balkans, the Russian government is highly unlikely to become more significantly involved in existing Kosovo-Serbia tensions. The 24 September incident was the most serious violent escalation in recent years and the risk of renewed violence in North Kosovo, possibly triggered by ongoing investigations, will remain high in the coming days. A direct military confrontation between Kosovo and Serbia remains highly unlikely. (Source: Sibylline)
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