Category Archives: Defense

Stoltenberg calls Russia to respect Open Sky

NATO Allies met today to discuss the Open Skies Treaty.

“We are firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. We all agree that all states party to the Open Skies Treaty must fully implement their commitments and obligations. All NATO Allies are in full compliance with all provisions of the Treaty”.

“Russia has for many years imposed flight restrictions inconsistent with the Treaty, including flight limitations over Kaliningrad, and restricting flights in Russia near its border with Georgia. Russia’s ongoing selective implementation of its obligations under the Open Skies Treaty has undermined the contribution of this important Treaty to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.

“Allies have called on Russia to return to full compliance of the Treaty since the Wales Summit in 2014, and repeated that call at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 and again at the Brussels Summit in 2018. The United States has declared Russia in violation of the Treaty, and has now announced its intention to withdraw from the Treaty in six months, consistent with Treaty provisions. The US has declared that it may, however, reconsider its withdrawal should Russia return to full compliance with the Treaty.

“NATO Allies and partner nations have engaged with Russia, both in capitals and at the OSCE in Vienna, to seek Russia’s return to compliance at the earliest date possible. Russia’s return to compliance is the best way to preserve the benefits of the Treaty.

“NATO Allies will continue to uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation, as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, taking into account the prevailing security environment. Allies also remain open to dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council on risk reduction and transparency. We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible”.

EU maintains operational presence

EU Defence Ministers discussed the security and defence implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing in particular on the crucial role played by armed forces in supporting civilian actors and providing cross-border support among member states. In this context the Task Force that was established at the last video conference of Defence Ministers on 6 April has worked closely with member states to ensure the exchange of information and best practices.

EU Ministers of defence on May 12 held a video conference, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.

Ministers concurred that the EU should continue to do its utmost to maintain the operational presence on the ground of its Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations, while preserving the safety of the personnel deployed.

They also underlined the need to strengthen preparedness and resilience for the future by conducting exercises, strengthening work on cybersecurity and countering hybrid threats including enhancing efforts to counter disinformation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Under-Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix provided an update on ongoing work in their organisations. They discussed with ministers defence cooperation in tackling the Covid-19 crisis.

NATO Stoltenberg adresses COVID19 crisis

The alliance’s defence ministers met on April 15 to discuss the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left 1,878,489 infected globally, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) release.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been holding a press conference via a secure video link in Brussels Headquarters following an extraordinary meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers.

The ministers discussed measures to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and its long-term ramifications following a slow-down of infection rates in member nations.

Another topic on the agenda concerned coronavirus-related disinformation.

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.

North Macedonia joins NATO

North Macedonia became NATO’s newest member on March 27, upon depositing its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the US State Department in Washington DC. NATO Allies signed North Macedonia’s Accession Protocol in February 2019, after which all 29 national parliaments voted to ratify the country’s membership.

North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of thirty nations and almost one billion people. A family based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together“ said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in his welcome address from Brussels Headquarters.

North Macedonia is a long-standing contributor to our Euro-Atlantic security, including by participating in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and in Kosovo.

A flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia will take place at NATO Headquarters on 30 March 2020, in the presence of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of North Macedonia to NATO Mr. Zoran Todorov.

The flag of North Macedonia will be simultaneously raised at the Allied Command Operations in Mons (Belgium) and at the Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk (US).

Image: archive – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev in Brussels NATO Headquarters,

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.

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 moves to space as ‘operational domain’

Although the participants claimed that historic NATO 70 Summit in London was a success, the general public has witness the other version of the events while leaders were trading barbs, ending in refusal of a concluding press-conference.

The assembly was marked  by unusual assertiveness, and even remorse of President Trump who declared at his arrival to London the French President Macron remarks on NATO “brain death” as “nasty” and, while leaving, calling Canada’s prime minister “two-faced” for mocking him on a hot mic.

Nevertheless NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference that the allies  have been able to “overcome our disagreements and continue to deliver on our core tasks to protect and defend each other.”

The leaders declared that space is now an “operational domain,” after land, sea, air and cyber space.

In a joint declaration, the leaders said: “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all.”

There were some changes in initial positions, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not further insist on his idea of blocking plans to enforce NATO infrastructure in northern and eastern Europe unless allies declared Kurdish fighters in Syria terrorists.

Marking the 70th anniversary of NATO, which was founded in 1949 to confront the security threat posed by the then Soviet Union, the leaders said the trans-Atlantic alliance is the cornerstone of their collective defense.

They also underlined their commitment to Article 5 of NATO’s Washington Treaty, saying “that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.”

The leaders then pledged to boost their military budgets in line with previous promises to move toward spending 2% of their annual GDP on defense by 2024.

They noted that European allies and Canada have increased spending for the last five years in a row and have invested an extra $130 billion since 2016. “We are making good progress. We must and will do more,” they said.

The leaders noted that NATO faces a multitude of threats, including from Russia and terrorism. “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all,” they said.

They also noted that “instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration.”

Arms control was also a theme, given the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty between Washington and Moscow.

We are fully committed to the preservation and strengthening of effective arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation,” the leaders said.

They added: “We remain open for dialogue, and to a constructive relationship with Russia when Russia’s actions make that possible.”

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan, where NATO has its longest and most ambitious security operation. They also underlined that they are increasing cooperation with the United Nations and the European Union.

North Macedonia‘s imminent membership was welcomed as a sign that NATO’s door remains open to European countries who want to join.

Turning to modern challenges, the leaders vowed to protect critical infrastructure, including 5th generation telecommunication networks, to ensure energy security and work together to counter cyber-attacks and hybrid warfare.

They said they must also address the “opportunities and challenges” posed by the rise of China.

To counter concerns about poor political decision making, the leaders accepted to set up a “reflection group” led by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg “to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension including consultation.”

After three consecutive years of summits, the leaders agreed to meet again in 2021.

 

PESCO: new 13 projcts in view

The Council adopted an updated list of 13 projects to be undertaken under PESCO. Today’s decision brings to 47 the number of projects that are currently in place.

Five of the new projects focus on training, covering areas such as cyber, diving, tactical, medical as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRND) training. Other projects focus on enhancing EU collaborative actions as well as on capability development on sea, air and space.

The Council formally adopted the first set of 17 projects on 6 March 2018 and the second set of 17 projects on 20 November 2018.

On 11 December 2017, the Council adopted a decision establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). PESCO enables EU member states to work more closely together in the area of security and defence. This permanent framework for defence cooperation allows willing and able member states to develop jointly defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

The 25 member states participating in PESCO are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

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