Category Archives: Defense

NATO regrets Kosovo “ill-timed” army formation

Today, the Institutions in Kosovo have announced the adoption of the three laws initiating the process of transition of the Kosovo Security Force“-  Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO  said in an issued statement.

“I regret that this decision was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO. While the transition of the Kosovo Security Force is in principle a matter for Kosovo to decide, we have made clear that this move  is ill-timed. 

“NATO supports the development of the Kosovo Security Force under its current mandate. With the change of mandate, the North Atlantic Council will now have to re-examine the level of NATO’s engagement with the Kosovo Security Force.

“NATO remains committed through KFOR to a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and to stability in the wider Western Balkans.

“All sides must ensure that today’s decision will not further increase tensions in the region. All responsible political actors in the region need to focus on progress with reforms, and on dialogue. I reiterate my call on both Pristina and Belgrade to remain calm and refrain from any statements or actions which may lead to escalation. NATO continues to support the EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as the only lasting political solution for the region.” – the statement concludes.

NATO accuses Russia in violation of Nuclear Forces Treaty

NATO Foreign Ministers are meeting December 4 to begin two days of talks on critical issues for the Alliance’s shared security. Ministers will discuss NATO’s cooperation with Georgia and Ukraine, transatlantic security, and the Alliance’s approach to the Middle East and North Africa. The Western Balkans and the security situation in Afghanistan will also be high on the agenda.

During the first day of the discussions the allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a new missile system in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a key arms control agreement which has been crucial in upholding NATO’s security for over 30 years. At a meeting  NATO Foreign Ministers called on Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance, saying: “it is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty.” Allies expressed firm commitment to preserving effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

European army: a convenient utopia

Dr Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann OPINION The idea of ​​creating a European army is today a convenient utopia. French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken out in favor of the creation of a “European army”, on the occasion of the commemoration of 11 November 1918 in Paris, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported this idea. Emmanuel Macron’s statement on the “European army” should be seen as a political slogan in the run-up to the European Parliament elections of May 2019. It does not reflect nor the true French position nor the German one.

Let’s also examine this proposition from the geopolitical point of view. In reality, Germany and France have different strategic priorities because they have different perceptions of threats (see map on the perceptions of threats of Germany and France).

Although France and Germany are active in all the different ongoing initiatives to foster more cooperation on defense  in Europe, they have different priorities.

The French president is promoting joint military operations in the Mediterranean region, in the Middle East and in Africa and is looking for the support of other Europeans. For the French the threat comes mainly from the southern flank,  with Islamic terrorism. The eastern flank of Europe is for them of secondary importance

On the contrary, Germany is concerned mainly about security on the eastern flank of Europe. For Germany, which has always been part of the integrated military structure of NATO, the European army should be a pillar of the Atlantic alliance. The Germans are mainly in synergy with the geopolitical interests of the United States to contain Russia.

It is for this reason that Germany gives priority to the ongoing structured  Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO) between European Union member states in the field of defense and security, in order to implement joint projects in synergy with NATO’s priorities. They also focus on the concept of  framework-nation within NATO and position themselves as leaders for integration of the Central and Eastern European armies, together with the United States. Germany is wary of Emmanuel Macron’s idea of ​​a European intervention initiative (EI2) , because it is supposed to be autonomous from both the European Union and NATO. Although they provide some support, the Germans do not wish to be sucked into operations they perceive as cover for French interests in the Mediterranean region and in Africa.

The French President is also influenced by Euro-Atlanticist priorities, and this is why he believes that European cooperation in the field of defense must be compatible with NATO, but with a greater degree of autonomy than Germany. According to the vision of “Europe Puissance” (Europe as a global and military power), France is promoting cooperation in the military field between sovereign member states, in order to reach European leadership.  

In the current geopolitical context, the idea of ​​a European army could not work because Europeans would find it very difficult to agree on a integrated military command. In particular because France is a nuclear power, but not Germany. France, unlike Germany, is also a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Moreover, the decision to send soldiers who risk their lives is only possible within the framework of a national decision, since there is no “European nation”.

The future lies more in rather fluid and variable alliances and Coalitions of the Willing according to different strategic objectives and geographical theaters.

Cooperation between member states of the European Union on defense issues is already difficult enough. It is not necessary to add  utopian objectives. Speaking of a “European army” is a convenient utopia, and useful to hide the absence of real debates on the divergent geopolitical visions between Europeans, and particularly between Germany and France.

In order to progress on the path of closer cooperation in the military field, parallel work is needed to bring together divergent views on geopolitical diagnosis, perceptions of security and identification of common interests.

This would finally open the way towards a deeper dialogue on European’ aims.

Image below: map, author Dr.Thomann

EU Army map

 

 

Trump expects fair defence cost-sharing

The United States wants a “strong Europe” and is willing to help its ally, but Europe must be fair when in sharing the defence burden, U.S. President Donald Trump said during his visit to France devoted to commemoration of the First World War.

We want a strong Europe, it’s very important to us and whichever way we can do it the best and more efficient would be something we both want,” Trump announced in his remarks after warm welcome of  President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

While explaining what meant in his  tweet about feeling insulted by Macron’s comments that Europe should reduce its dependence on the United States for security, Trump said: “We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now the burden sharing has been largely on the United States.

Around 70 world leaders are gathering in Paris for events marking the Armistice that ended World War One, which was signed 100 years ago this Sunday.

 

NATO tumultuous Summit

Arriving to NATO Summit in Brussels President Trump bitterly criticised European allies for not meeting the two percent spending for defence needs, they signed for as Alliance members. (The VIDEO of President Donald Trump address at breakfast with Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg below).

“I think it is unfair,” Trump said, making clear that unlike his predecessors, he is not only going to talk about it, but resolve the issue. “We can’t put up with it,” he added pointing that the US should not have to pay the biggest share of NATO defence expenditure while Germany – the biggest European economy –  contributes just over 1% of GDP. Germany’s plan to increase its defence expenditure to the NATO target of 2% of GDP by 2030. was not satisfactory Trump said, adding: “They could do it tomorrow.”

However the criticism of the allies did not stop with the budget issue, and President Trump went on, extensively criticizing Germany for trade with Russia, namely for construction of the North Stream 2 pipeline in Baltic sea.

Apparently the international project of direct delivery of cheap Russian gas to Germany via Baltic sea bed would substantially impact the US attempts to sell their expensive liquid gas (LNG) to Europe, the experts say. It will also strip Ukraine from Russian transit gas payments from exploiting  the pipeline system they have inherited, a from the USSR.

“I think it is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump regretted. “We are supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions dollars a year to Russia”.

“We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. I think that is very inappropriate.”

“It should never have been allowed to happen. Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting 60-70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.”

“You tell me if that’s appropriate because I think it’s not. On top of that Germany is just paying just a little bit over one percent whereas the United States is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP. So I think that’s inappropriate also.”

The Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg attempted to reason President Trump, making his point that “even during the Cold war, NATO allies were trading with Russia.”

However the attempt to call to reason did not impact the fiery rhetoric of President Trump targeting Germany, and defining it as a “captive of Russia“.

Previously the attempts to promote the US liquid gas sales to Europe were undertaken by President Obama, but were declined by the European Union for economic reasons.

Russian company Gazprom underlines that the construction of new pipeline, similar to the one in operation (North Stream) will establish a direct link between Gazprom and the European consumers. “It will also ensure a highly reliable supply of Russian gas to Europe”, the latter is a significant factor for the European economies, which have already been ‘hostages’ to Ukraine-Russia trade arguments, left without gas supplies.

 

 

 

PESCO projects in military mobility

Luxembourg. Foreign affairs and defence ministers discussed security and defence cooperation in the EU. Namely the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO); the military mobility; the initiatives proposed in the framework of the future multiannual financial framework, in view of the European Defence Fund and the European peace facility; the fight against hybrid threats in light of the joint communication of 13 June.

The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said the “important decisions” will advance the EU defence work in preparation for the European Council. The ministers adopted the rules for the governance of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) projects.  From now onwards they will  focus on the implementation of the 17 already existing projects.

The  preparation of the new set of projects to be adopted by November and the work they will start to prepare the conditions for third countries’ participation in PESCO projects.

The misnisters also took a decision on the first steps on the implementation of the Military Mobility Action Plan, for which the proposal on the table on the Multiannual Financial Framework is a € 6.5 billion for the next 7 years. We also decided to move forward with the strengthening of our work on the civilian work on security and defence and the Member States welcomed my proposals to counter hybrid threats. So I will bring this entire package to the European Council on Thursday in Brussels.

“Member States also welcomed the proposal I made on our financial instruments to support our defence and security work. There is a European Peace Facility idea on the table. We will now move on with the Member States to look at the details of this proposal” – Mogherini continued.

Mogherini claimed she had an excellent exchange with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who joined ministers. “We looked at the challenges that the transatlantic relations are facing today and they do not relate to our work on defence and security, which has been excellent. We have worked together to prepare our deliverables for the NATO Summit at the beginning of July” – the diplomat concluded.

“We decided to increase the level of cooperation even more and focus on the most positive state of relationship we can have. It has never been as good as now and I hope this spirit of good cooperation between the European Union and NATO will also help in solving some of the issues on other tables that could be challenging in the months to come” – Mogherini concluded.

 

NATO defence ministers to meet in Brussels

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Brussels for defence ministers meeting, seeking to re-affirm ties with European allies, finding himself in the difficult position of mending relationships amid trade argument initiated by President Donald Trump’s policies. Speaking with reporters on the way to Brussels, Gen.Mattis presumed that while talks with NATO partners would be tough, he did not expect Trump’s tariffs decision to have an impact on defense issues for now.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg previewed this week’s meeting of NATO Defence Ministers – the first in the Alliance’s new headquarters – at a press conference on Wednesday (6 June 2018). Ministers are expected to take a series of decisions on the NATO Command Structure and military readiness, discuss plans for a NATO training mission in Iraq, and review progress in achieving more defence spending and better burden sharing. They will also discuss NATO-EU cooperation, and hold a meeting on the Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan.

 

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