Category Archives: defence

NATO COVID19 response

NATO Foreign Ministers directed NATO’s top commander, General Wolters, to coordinate the necessary military support to combat the coronavirus crisis and to start using fast-track paths through Europe’s airspace for military flights carrying medical supplies, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday (2 April 2020).

NATO was created to deal with crises. So we can help and our Alliance is playing its part”, the Secretary General said. Mr Stoltenberg’s remarks came after a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, held by secure videoconference for the first time in NATO’s history. Ministers also agreed to hold an extra-ordinary meeting of Defence Ministers in April to review the support provided to Allies and take decisions on any further steps.

The Alliance is already coordinating and supporting national efforts against the pandemic with logistical, transport and medical help. “I am grateful for the further offers of assistance, which NATO Allies made today and for the substantial support that Allies have already provided”, the Secretary General said, citing the airlift of medical supplies, provision of medical personnel and the use of innovative technologies. Mr Stoltenberg stressed that NATO’s main task remained the protection of NATO’s almost one billion people, and that NATO’s ability to conduct operations had not been undermined.

Today’s meeting also focused on NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and support for Georgia and Ukraine. On Iraq, the Secretary General said that NATO would take on some additional activities including the training and the education of non-commissioned officers, engineers, and federal police. On Afghanistan, the Secretary General welcomed efforts to set up an inclusive team for the inter-Afghan negotiations, calling on the Taliban and all political actors to play their part.

North Macedonia, which on Friday (27 March 2020) became the alliance’s 30th member, attended a NATO Ministerial meeting for the first time as an Ally.

North Macedonia NATO ceremony

Flag raising ceremonies were held simultaneously at Allied Command Operations (SHAPE) in Mons (Belgium) and Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia (United States). North Macedonia became the 30th member of the Alliance on Friday (27 March 2020), when it deposited its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the US State Department in Washington DC.

Standing alongside the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of North Macedonia to NATO, Mr. Zoran Todorov, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “This is a historic moment for North Macedonia. It comes after years of perseverance, determination, and commitment to reform. In the best spirit of the Alliance, and through political courage and vision, North Macedonia and Greece reached a historic compromise over the name issue. The Prespa agreement made NATO accession possible. It has also contributed to good neighborly relations and a brighter future for North Macedonia. Your hard work has made today possible.”

Joining NATO is good for North Macedonia. It is good for the stability of the Western Balkans and it is good for international peace and security,” Mr. Stoltenberg added. “At times like these, friends and Allies are more important than ever and North Macedonia now has the best friends and Allies in the world. We are all safer and stronger together than alone. So, welcome to NATO,” he added.

Russian drills in Black sea

An active phase of tactical drills of the Black Sea Fleet aviation with fighters, bombers and helicopters has begun on March 18 in Crimea. In the course of the drills, pilots trained to withdraw forces during a potential attack, conducted a search for submarines, launched unguided missiles and dropped bombs, the fleet’s press service informed. (Image: illustration).

The drills consist of two stages. “During the first stage of the drills, plane and helicopter crews practised withdrawing forces in case of a hypothetical enemy attack and redeploying aviation to backup airfields,” the message reads.

During the second stage, pilots of Su-24M and Su-30SM launched unguided missiles and dropped bombs on land and sea targets. Crews of anti-submarine aircraft and helicopters conducted a search for a hypothetical enemy submarine. Pilots of military transport aviation practised transporting and landing cargo.

In total, the drills include about 20 aviation units of the Black Fleet.

EU Defence Ministers discuss future

At arrival to the Informal meeting of the EU Defence Ministers on March 4 in Zagreb Josep Borrell, the EU top diplomat, commented on situation in Syria, and crisis at Greek-Turkish border.

Borrell underlined that the meeting is “not about the current crisis“, but about “future prospects on how to build a better security and defence policy for all Europeans“. The Ministers hosted the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg to put forward priorities in EU military and defence missions.

Our prospect tonight is about how to build a common security and defence policy for the future.”

The EU top diplomat described the situation in Syria is one of the “most dramatic” in terms of human rights since the World War II.

“We are providing as much humanitarian help as we can, the European Union has increased by €170 million the amount of resources we can provide to the United Nations. But at this time the problem is not financial but logistic, that is – how to reach the people, how to get through the border, because the Syrian side is closed, the Turkish side is still opened in some places in order to bring food, medicine and shelter. But, it is difficult to provide those things in the middle of a military conflict” Borrell said.

https://twitter.com/eu_eeas/status/1235281289860837387?s=21

“We have to call once again for a stop of the military activities in order to give some protection to these people. As far as I know, from the information I got from Ankara – I am coming from Ankara – this is one of worse cases of human distress that we have been living in the last 70 years” he added.

Borrell referred to the diplomatic efforts, reflected in his recent talks with Turkish officials during the trip to Ankara.

“They believe that the support we are providing is not enough. For sure it is not enough, because when we made the agreement in 2016, the situation in Idlib was not the way it is now. But we continue providing support as much as we can and I have been telling them that to push people, to put pressure at the [EU-Turkey] border is not a solution for anyone. It is going to put people at risk and we would like to continue cooperating but not through movement of people, by making them believe that there is an opportunity to pass to Europe, because this opportunity does not exist” Borrell concluded.

Borrell visits EU Satellite Centre

The EU top dipolmat Josep Borrell visited the European Union’s Satellite Centre, SatCen, in Torrejón de Ardoz to get a first-hand debriefing about its activities. (Image above: illustration)

“The SatCen plays a fundamental role in the decision-making under the Common Security and Defence Policy, and actions of our 17 civilian and military missions and operations around the world. From Torrejón de Ardoz, it offers geostrategic analysis of intelligence for both the EU’s institutions and its Member States” said the diplomat during his visit.

The SatCen is under the operational direction of the High Representative. It is the only autonomous operational geospatial intelligence centre of the EU. It contributes, including through the production of satellite and aerial imagery, to the decision-making and actions of the EU in the field of the Common Foreign And Security Policy, and in particular Common Security and Defence Policy.

Russia arms exports at rise

Long-term commissions of Russian armements by other states amount to $55 bln, whereas annual exports of local arms and military equipment stand at $14-15 bln, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said, TASS news agency reports.

“We have guaranteed long-term orders worth $55 bln, while annual sales amount to roughly $14-15 bln,” Borisov said. “President has set a goal to bring the share of civil production in the structure of the defense industry to 30% by 2025 and to 50% by 2030,” he added.

The share of civil production in the structure of the Russian defense industry’s output went up from 20.9% in 2018 to 24.1% in 2019.
The share of civil production amounted to 34.1% in 2019 in aircraft construction, 14.6% in radio-electronic industry, and 19.1% in shipbuilding, the civil servant announced the Industry and Trade Ministry’s statistics.

NATO suspends training in Iraq

NATO Ambassadors met on 6 January 2019 in Brussels headquaters to address current tensions in the Middle East and implications for NATO’s training mission in Iraq.

“…Allies expressed their strong support for the fight against ISIS and for the NATO mission in Iraq. In everything that we do, the safety of our personnel is paramount. As such, we have temporarily suspended our training on the ground,” – Jens Stolenberg said.

Allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no one’s interest. So Iran must refrain from further violence and provocation” he added.

Speaking after the meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the safety of NATO’s personnel in Iraq is paramount and that the Alliance had temporarily suspended training activities on the ground. He added that NATO was prepared to continue training and capacity-building when the situation permits, emphasizing that the Alliance remains strongly committed to the fight against international terrorism, namely Daech in Middle East.

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