Category Archives: defence

EU: Sweden moves towards NATO

Brussels 16.05.2022 “Let me stress my strong support to Sweden and Finland. Some minutes ago, I had a conversation with the Swedish Minister [for Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde], who was kind enough to call me, to inform that the process has started, that they are going to inform the King, and that there is strong support for this decision inside the Swedish society and the Swedish political spectrum” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said at the doorstep of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels.

“So, I think the European Union Member States will support this decision, and I hope we could override the opposition of some members of NATO,” he added.

Finland joins NATO without delay

Brussels 12.04.2022 Finland announced it would apply to join NATO “without delay”, with Sweden expected to follow suit, suggesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will bring about the very expansion of the Western military alliance that Vladimir Putin attempted to prevent.

The decision by the two Nordic countries to abandon the neutrality they maintained throughout the Cold War would be a giant shift in European security structure in decades. Finland’s announcement provoked indignation from the Kremlin, which called it a direct threat to Russia and promised an unspecified relevant response.

The announcement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin means that Finland is all but certain to join the Western military alliance, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighbouring Sweden is expected to decide on application for NATO membership in coming days.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” they said. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

Finland considers joining NATO in weeks

Brussels 13.04.2022 Finland will take a decision about whether to apply to join NATO in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (pictured) said on Wednesday, April 13, underlining a shift in security perspectives since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have to be prepared for all kinds of actions from Russia,” Marin told journalists during a news conference in Stockholm with her Swedish counterpart.

The head of government said the option to join NATO had to be carefully analysed but that everything had changed when Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February.

“The difference between being a partner and being a member is very clear and will remain so. There is no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO’s deterrence and common defence as guaranteed by NATO’s Article 5,” Marin added.

Finland and fellow Nordic state and neighbour Sweden are close partners with NATO but have shied away from joining the 30-member alliance, founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

52 percent of Finnish Swedes say yes to NATO membership, shows a recent survey Swedish Yle and the think tank Magma commissioned. This is a smaller proportion than in Finland as a whole.

Today, Wednesday, the Government is expected to approve and present the defense policy report. It will be discussed in the Riksdag next week.

At the same time, a new survey shows that Swedes in Finland express greater uncertainty regarding NATO membership than the general population does. Survey has been commissioned by Svenska Yle together with the think tank Magma.

The survey shows that Finnish Swedes’ NATO support is lower in Finland overall. 52 percent of Finnish Swedes say yes to NATO membership, compared with over 60 percent in Yle’s latest NATO survey for the entire
population.

“I won’t give any kind of timetable when we will make our decisions, but I think it will happen quite fast – within weeks not within months,” said Marin, whose country shares a 1,300-km (810-mile)-long border with Russia to the east.

She said it was important to reach consensus in Finland, which fought Soviet invaders during World War Two and has been militarily non-aligned since then, and that political parties would have internal talks and in parliament in coming weeks.

Finland and Sweden way to NATO

Brussels 11.04.2022 Sweden and Finland may join NATO as early as this summer, the Times newspaper reported citing its sources. (Image: Sandra Marin Prime minister of Finland).

According to the news outlet, it is expected that Finland will apply for its membership in June and Sweden will follow.

The governments of Sweden and Finland are co-operating on reaching consensus on the matter domestically, however, the final decision will be made by each country independently.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the possible NATO membership of Sweden and Finland became one of the most debated subjects during the April 6-7 meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

NATO pledge for heavy weapons to Ukraine

Brussels 07.04.2022 The NATO member states have agreed to supply new types of advanced weaponry to Ukraine, alliance representatives have said, as Kyiv prepares for a next offensive by Russia in the Donbass region.

The pledge has been announced after a plea from Ukraine Foreign minister to move faster with weapons supplies. Six weeks since Russia invasion of Ukraine, some of the troops have largely withdrawn from territory north of Kyiv after failing to seize the capital, but are regrouping and rearming ahead of an attempt to advance in the Eastern region near Donbass.

These events influenced demands from Kyiv for western countries to supply more heavy weapons, armour and more advanced systems. Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he would use the Alliance meeting in Brussels to ask for aircraft, missiles, armoured vehicles and heavy air defence systems, additionally to the other types of equipment.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said to press that member states had agreed to send more weapons.

“There was support for countries to supply new and heavier equipment to Ukraine, so that they can respond to these new threats from Russia,” the top diplomat explained. “And we agreed to help Ukrainian forces move from their Soviet-era equipment to NATO standard equipment, on a bilateral basis.”

Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said Washington was looking at sending “new systems” to Ukraine.

“We are not going to let anything stand in the way of getting Ukrainians what they need,” he said. “We are looking across the board right now, not only at what we have provided . . . [but] whether there are additional systems that would make a difference.”

Previously the allies have supplied Ukraine with anti-tank missiles, drones and other defensive weaponry before and during the war. However, they have declined to supply other classes of weapons or impose a no-fly zone, as Kyiv has demanded, over the risk of engaging Russia in a wider war.

Ukrainian defence forces with NLAW anti-tank weapons in Kyiv last month: Nato countries have promised to send more advanced systems as a fresh assault by Russia looms
Kuleba said afterwards he was “cautiously optimistic” that alliance states would meet his demand but warned that delays would result in more deaths.

“Either you help us now, and I am speaking about days . . . or your help will come too late,” Kuleba said. The Ukranian diplomat added also added that without these weapons many people might die.

He added: “I was very specific about the requests and the timeline that they should be accommodated. I will be looking forward to the follow-up from allies.”

Ukraine has warned Russia is preparing a fresh offensive in the Donbas, aimed at seizing territory in the two administrative regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which separatists have partially occupied since a Moscow-backed uprising in 2014.

Ukraine’s military authorities on Wednesday called on residents living in the regions to leave “while they still had the chance”.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, said allies had agreed to “further strengthen” support for Ukraine immediately and in the “medium and long term”.

The promise of further military aid came amid regrets of Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, admitting Russia had suffered “significant losses of troops” during the invasion of Ukraine, which he described as “a huge tragedy” for his compatriots.

Peskov said Russia had withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv in central Ukraine last week as a “goodwill act to lift tension from those regions and show Russia is really ready to create comfortable conditions to continue negotiations”, however fighting would continue in the Donbas, he added.

“It was a clear message from the meeting today that allies should do more and are ready to do more to supply more equipment. They realise and recognise the urgency,” he said.

EU adopts Strategic Compass

Brussels 21.03.2022 Today the Council has formally approved the Strategic Compass, at a time when we witness the return of war in Europe.

The Compass gives the European Union an ambitious plan of action for strengthening the EU’s security and defence policy by 2030.

The more hostile security environment requires us to make a quantum leap forward and increase our capacity and willingness to act, strengthen our resilience, and invest more and better in our defence capabilities.

The strength of our Union lies in unity, solidarity and determination. The objective of the Strategic Compass is to make the EU a stronger and more capable security provider. The EU needs to be able to protect its citizens and to contribute to international peace and security. This is all the more important at a time when war has returned to Europe, following the unjustified and unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well as of major geopolitical shifts. This Strategic Compass will enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy and its ability to work with partners to safeguard its values and interests.

A stronger and more capable EU in security and defence will contribute positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary to NATO, which remains the foundation of collective defence for its members. It will also intensify support for the global rules-based order, with the United Nations at its core.

The threats are rising and the cost of inaction is clear. The Strategic Compass is a guide for action. It sets out an ambitious way forward for our security and defence policy for the next decade. It will help us face our security responsibilities, in front of our citizens and the rest of the world. If not now, then when?
“The Strategic Compass provides a shared assessment of the strategic environment in which the EU is operating and of the threats and challenges the Union faces. The document makes concrete and actionable proposals, with a very precise timetable for implementation, in order to improve the EU’s ability to act decisively in crises and to defend its security and its citizens” said Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The Compass covers all the aspects of the security and defence policy and is structured around four pillars: act, invest, partner and secure.

Act
In order to be able to act rapidly and robustly whenever a crisis erupts, with partners if possible and alone when necessary, the EU will:

– establish a strong EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of up to 5000 troops for different types of crises

– be ready to deploy 200 fully equipped CSDP mission experts within 30 days, including in complex environments

– conduct regular live exercises on land and at sea

– enhance military mobility

– reinforce the EU’s civilian and military CSDP (Common Defence and Security Policy) missions and operations by promoting a rapid and more flexible decision-making process , acting in a more robust way and ensuring greater financial solidarity

– make full use of the European Peace Facility to support partners

In order to be able to act rapidly and robustly whenever a crisis erupts, with partners if possible and alone when necessary, the EU will:

– establish a strong EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of up to 5000 troops for different types of crises

– be ready to deploy 200 fully equipped CSDP mission experts within 30 days, including in complex environments

– conduct regular live exercises on land and at sea

– enhance military mobility

– reinforce the EU’s civilian and military CSDP (Common Defence and Security Policy) missions and operations by promoting a rapid and more flexible decision-making process , acting in a more robust way and ensuring greater financial solidarity

– make full use of the European Peace Facility to support partners

Secure
In order to strengthen its ability to anticipate, deter and respond to current and fast-emerging threats and challenges, and safeguard the EU’s security interest, the EU will:

– boost its intelligence analysis capacities

– develop Hybrid Toolbox and Response Teams bringing together different instruments to detect and respond to a broad range of hybrid threats

– further develop the Cyber Diplomatic Toolbox and set up an EU Cyber Defence Policy to be better prepared for and respond to cyberattacks

– develop a Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Toolbox

– develop an EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence

– strengthen the EU’s role as a maritime security actor

Invest
Member states have committed to substantially enhance their defence expenditures to match our collective ambition to reduce critical military and civilian capability gaps and strengthen our European Defence Technological and Industrial Base. The EU will:

– exchange on national objectives on increased and improved defence spending to match our security needs

– provide further incentives for member states to engage in collaborative capability development and jointly invest in strategic enablers and next generation capabilities to operate on land, at sea, in the air, in the cyber domain and in outer space

– boost defence technological innovation to fill strategic gaps and reduce technological and industrial dependencies

Partner
In order to address common threats and challenges, the EU will:

– strengthen cooperation with strategic partners such as NATO, the UN and regional partners, including the OSCE, AU and ASEAN

– develop more tailored bilateral partnerships with like-minded countries and strategic partners, such as the US, Canada, Norway, the UK, Japan and others

– develop tailored partnerships in the Western Balkans, our eastern and southern neighbourhood, Africa, Asia and Latin America, including through enhancing dialogue and cooperation, promoting participation in CSDP missions and operations and supporting capacity- building

EU focus on Strategic Compass

Brussels 21.03.2022 “Today is going to be a very long day. We are going to have a joint meeting with the Defence Ministers in order to approve – I hope – the Strategic Compass. Which is not the answer to the Ukrainian war, but it is part of the answer. We have been working on that for two years, and when we started working, we could not imagine that it the last moment of approval, the situation would be so bad, and that Europe was going to face such a big challenge,” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said upon arrival to the Foreign ministers Council in Brussels.

“This is the moment to rethink the future of European capacities to face challenges like a war. That is why the European Union Member States will have to increase their military capacities. [And to] do it in a coordinated manner. As responsible for the Common Security and Defence Policy, we will be working to make us stronger militarily and use our capacities in a more coordinated way.

“We are going to continue providing support to Ukraine – with the second tranche of the European Peace Facility providing more financial support. We are going to have a meeting with the [Deputy Prime Minister] and Foreign Affairs Minister of the [Republic of] Moldova [Nicu Popescu]. Moldova is providing incredible support to the Ukrainian refugees. And then we will have a video-conference with the Defence Minister of Ukraine [Oleksii Reznikov], who will talk about the war situation.

“Russia is really committing a lot of war crimes – that is the word, we have to say it. What is happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. [They are] destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody in an indiscriminate manner. This is something awful that we have to condemn in the strongest terms. This is a war crime, a massive war crime, what is happening in Mariupol. The city will be completely destroyed, and people are dying. We will continue working and supporting Ukraine, with all of our resources. We will continue talking about what kind of sanctions we can think of again, more – especially related with energy. And we will see from [our discussions with] the Defence Minister of Ukraine, what is the situation there and how we can continue supporting them.

The enhancement of the EU defence plans is due to the France Presidency of the Council of the European Union. President Emmanuel Macron has ensured that his goal is to “to move from being a Europe of cooperation inside of our borders to a powerful Europe in the world, fully sovereign, free to make its choices and master of its destiny.” The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell clarified that it is means the EU should be “learning the language of power,” and being willing to act more rigorously to defend its interests wherever they are threatened.

The France Presidency has an ambition to upgrade the European defence to become fully operational. That is why the Strategic Compass has been promoted as the first White paper on the EU defence, becoming the major achievement of the French presidency. The document will lay out a common strategic vision for EU security and defence, and set the practical objectives in accordance with the timetable, or a roadmap.

There will be strong incentives to follow up on the commitments included, the EU diplomats ensure, as the document will be endorsed by the heads of state and government and will leave room for potential adaptations. The Strategic Compass will be a barometer for both member states’ and the bloc’s ambitions to make the EU a leading security provider for its citizens on the continent and beyond.

Biden sends troops to Poland

Brussels 06.02.2022 A plane carrying USA troops landed in Poland on Sunday, February 6, a Reuters news agency reports, as Washington reinforces its NATO allies in Eastern Europe amid a Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border.(Image: illustration)

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday, February 2, ordered nearly 3,000 extra troops to Poland and Romania, as Washington moves to reassure East European NATO allies.

The Pentagon said that around 1,700 service members, mainly from the 82nd Airborne Division, would deploy from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland.

Sunday’s arrival of the C17 aircraft followed a plane carrying the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army Major General Christopher Donahue, which landed on Saturday, February 5, at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport, and a few planes with U.S. military equipment and an “advance group”.

It was not immediately clear how many troops arrived, but a C17 aircraft is “designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment”, according to the U.S. Air Force website.

“Our national contribution here in Poland shows our solidarity with all of our allies here in Europe and obviously during this period of uncertainty we know that we are stronger together,” Donahue said on Sunday.

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said minutes after the plane landed that this was the first group of American soldiers “from an elite unit”.

“…More planes will be landing in the coming hours. The soldiers will operate in the southeastern part of our country,” he added.

NATO-Russia Council step forward

Brussels 12.01.2022 Anna van Densky The NATO-Russia Council, which brings together all 30 NATO Allies and Russia, met in Brussels on Wednesday (12 January 2022) to discuss the situation in and around Ukraine, and the implications for European security.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the meeting, said: “This was not an easy discussion, but that is exactly why it was so important.” He noted that NATO Allies are ready to meet again with Russia to discuss a number of topics in greater detail and to put concrete proposals on the table. “There are opportunities for constructive engagement which should not be missed, in the interest of security in Europe,” he said.

“We had a frank and open discussion on a wide range of issues, of course, focusing on the tensions, the difficulties in and around Ukraine. And Allies also of course again expressed a deep concern about the continued Russian military build-up along the borders of Ukraine. And combined with threatening rhetoric from the Russian side, and a Russian track record of willingness to use force against neighbours, of course, Allies are concerned. And we are clear-eyed about the challenges we face when we now sit down with Russia and try to find a political way forward. But the meeting was useful. And I think that, especially when tensions are high, it is even more important that we meet, and that all Allies and Russia meet and sit around the same table and address the issues that are of concern.

“On membership and the NATO’s open door all Allies are united on the core principle that each and every nation has the right to choose his own path. This is enshrined in a lot of fundamental documents, many different documents, which are the foundation for European security. And, therefore, also Allies totally agree that it is only Ukraine and 30 Allies that can decide when Ukraine is ready to become a NATO member. No one else has anything to say and of course Russia doesn’t have a veto on whether Ukraine can become a NATO member. Allies are ready to support Ukraine on this path towards membership, helping to implement reforms, modernise the armed forces to meet NATO standards. And then, at the end of the day, it has to be NATO Allies and Ukraine that decides on membership”.

The council meeting marked the second stage in a series of talks between Russia and the West on Russia’s proposals for European security. The first stage was the talks between Russia and the US that took place in Geneva on January 10, and the third stage will happen as an OSCE meeting in Vienna on January 13.

The Russian delegation in Brussels is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin. NATO is represented by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and representatives of 30 NATO member states in Brussels.

The negotiations between Moscow and Washington dedicated to Russia’s proposed security guarantees concluded on January 10 in Geneva. On January 12, Russia-NATO discussed the security issue in Europe, as well as Russian drafts on security assurances at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels, and on January 13 at the Vienna session of the OSCE Permanent Council.

On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry published the draft agreements between Russia and the US on security guarantees and the measures of ensuring the security of Russia and NATO member states.

Leyen supports Europe defence Union

Brussels 07.01.2022 “…We agree that there is a need for a genuine Defence Union” the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said, while attending event the EU event in Paris, hosted by President Macron.
“A Defence Union that prepares us for new threats in the future. For example, the next hybrid attack, no matter where it comes from. So let us agree on our priorities using our Strategic Compass, which is a kind of White Paper on defence. I am delighted that the French Presidency has committed itself to this issue. I have high expectations of the discussion on this subject at the March Summit. I believe it is high time for the Europe of defence to move up a gear”.

The top EU executive has also reminded about the strain relations with Russia: “…here are considerable tensions at our doorstep, as shown by Russia’s military pressure on Ukraine and its intimidation of Moldova. I am delighted, therefore, that a country with the political weight and experience of France is taking on the Council Presidency at such a delicate time. France’s voice resonates far and wide. And Europe is dear to France”.

The statement was made in the context of the inauguration of the rotating EU presidency of France from January to July 2022. Starting from 1 January, France will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months. It will play a central role, together with its European partners, to move forward on negotiations to ensure a more sovereign Europe, a new European growth model, and a human-centred Europe.

In particular, France will be responsible for organising the meetings of the Council of the European Union, fostering cooperation between the Member States and handling the Council’s relations with the European Commission and Parliament. The French Presidency of the Council of the EU will contribute to reaching compromises and decisions that serve European citizens in several key fields such as the ecological and digital transition, protection and adaptation of our social model, better protection of borders and reaffirming the importance of European values.

In order to address these priorities, a number of events and informal meetings are being organised by the French Presidency throughout France, as well as in Brussels and Luxembourg where formal Council meetings are held.

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