Category Archives: Defense

NATO condemns Novichok attack on Navalny

The North Atlantic Council met on 4 September 2020 to address the assassination attempt on Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny. Germany briefed Allies on the toxicology findings of their specialist laboratory. “There is proof beyond doubt that Mr. Navalny was poisoned using a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

«…North Atlantic Council has just met to address the appalling assassination attempt on Alexei NavalnyGermany briefed Allies on the findings of their specialist laboratory. There is proof beyond doubt that Mr. Navalny was poisoned using a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group.The use of such a weapon is horrific» Stoltenberg said, addressing press in online conference.
«All Allies today were united in condemning this attack.Any use of chemical weapons shows a total disrespect for human lives, and is an unacceptable breach of international norms and rules. NATO Allies agree that Russia now has serious questions it must answer.

The Russian government must fully cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on an impartial, international investigation.Those responsible for this attack must be held accountable and brought to justice. We also call on Russia to provide complete disclosure of the Novichok programme to the OPCW. Time and again, we have seen opposition leaders and critics of the Russian regime attacked, and their lives threatened. Some have even been killed.
So this is not just an attack on an individual, but on fundamental democratic rights.
And it is a serious breach of international law, which demands an international response.
We wish Mr. Navalny a full and speedy recovery.
Our thoughts are with him and his family.
Allies will continue consultations and consider the implications of this incident.
With that I am ready to take your questions».

AMENDED: Earlier in Berlin Chancellor Angela Merkel made a statement, concerning Alexey Navalny poisoning with Novichok group military chemical agent.

Crimea: Putin attends keel-laying ceremony

President Vladimir Putin attended the keel-laying ceremony for the Russian Navy’s first helicopter carriers warships at the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch, Crimea, on Monday July 20.

Together with the general director of the Zaliv plant Igor Obrubov, the head of state installed a mortgage board for the section of the Ivan Rogov universal landing ship.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy Nikolay Evmenov installed the foundation board for the Mitrofan Moskalenko UDC section.

The head of state also watched the laying of the Voronezh and Vladivostok nuclear submarines in Severodvinsk, as well as the Admiral Yumashev and Admiral Spiridonov frigates in St. Petersburg in a video conference mode. Presentations were made by the Director General of PO Sevmash Mikhail Budnichenko and the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.

Three leading Russian shipyards simultaneously laid down six new vesssels on Monday: two universal amphibious assault ships in Kerch, Crimea, two frigates in St. Petersburg and two nuclear-powered submarines in Severodvinsk.

Following the tradition, the universal amphibious assault ships and next-generation frigates will be named after Russian glorified military and naval commanders “who did much for strengthening the Navy,” Putin said at the ceremon in Kerch.

These are the helicopter carriers Ivan Rogov and Mitrofan Moskalenko and the frigates Admiral Yumashev and Admiral Spiridonov, he specified.

The contract for building Project 885M ‘Yasen-M’ multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarines was signed at the Army-2019 international arms show in the summer of 2019.

The baseline Project 885 lead nuclear-powered underwater cruiser Severodvinsk entered service with Russia’s Northern Fleet in 2014. The upgraded Project 885M lead sub Kazan is preparing for its delivery to the Navy in 2020.

Five Project 885M submarines are at various stages of their construction at the Sevmash Shipyard.

Project 885/885M submarines will carry Kalibr-PL and (or) Oniks cruise missiles and also Tsirkon hypersonic missiles as their basic weapons.

Today, at the three leading shipyards of Russia, six new ships of the far sea zone are simultaneously laid. Here, in Kerch, these are two universal landing ships, in St. Petersburg at the Severnaya Verf shipyard, two frigates, and in Severodvinsk, at the Sevmash enterprise, two nuclear submarines” President Putin said.

“By tradition, the landing ships and frigates of the new generation will bear the names of our famous military leaders and naval commanders who have done a lot to strengthen the Navy. These are “Ivan Rogov” and “Mitrofan Moskalenko”, “Admiral Yumashev” and “Admiral Spiridonov”. And nuclear submarines are named after the cities of military glory – “Voronezh” and “Vladivostok”.

“The new ships will be equipped with advanced weapons, control and long-distance communication systems. They will significantly strengthen the combat potential of the Navy and increase its strategic capabilities.

“The Navy has always reliably defended the borders of Russia. And today he plays an extremely important role in ensuring the security of Russia, stands firmly on guard of national interests, and helps maintain a strategic balance and stability in the world.There are now about 60 of our ships and support vessels in key regions of the World Ocean. Almost half of them are in the far sea zone. And such long sea voyages, the demonstration of the Russian flag have been held in recent years on an ongoing basis” the President continued.

“Russia has one of the longest coastlines and access to three oceans, so we will continue to pursue the development of a modern combat-ready fleet, build ships equipped with advanced weapons and equipment.

“I would like to note that over the past eight years, the fleet has included more than 200 ships, boats and vessels of various classes. It is necessary to continue to consistently carry out the measures of the state armament program, so that by 2027, the share of modern ships in the Navy will exceed 70%.”

Russian defense reporter accused of espionage

The arrest of former journalist has caused major outcry among independent media outlets in Russia. Ivan Safronov, accused of spying for the Czech Republic and the United States, was arrested on July 7 by Russia’s security service, the FSB, which has accused him of state treason, the charges foreseing prison sententse from 12 up to 20 years.

Until two months ago, Safronov was a reporter covering Russia’s defense and space industries for a leading state newspaper, Vedomosti, having spent a decade covering the same subject for Kommersant newspaper. Since May, he has been a communications adviser for the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.

Safronov’s lawyer told reporters on July 7 the FSB accuses him of passing secret information to Czech intelligence about Russian arms supplies to Africa and military activities in the Middle East. A Moscow court ordered his arrest for two months in pretrial detention in the city’s Lefortovo jail.

Former colleagues and journalists from other publications protested against his arrest outside FSB headquarters in Moscow on July 7, and more than two dozen were detained by police. Three of Russia’s top news outlets, including his two former papers, published protests prominently on their sites, saying the arrest was intended to discourage the objective reporting in Russia.

Kommersant, where Safronov worked for a decade, wrote that the accusations seemed “absurd” and called him a “patriot.” Another leading outlet, RBC, wrote that his arrest was “a signal” to Russian media and society to avoid casting light on shady activities of powerfl groups of people.

Treason cases are classified, meaning Safronov’s trial will be held behind closed doors as even the charges brought against him are likely to remain obscure.

Ivan Pavlov, the lawyer, who defends Safronov at Court, told reporters the FSB alleges his client was recruited in 2012 by Czech intelligence and in 2017 allegedly was given the task of passing along intelligence about the arms deliveries and military operations. That information allegedly was shared with the United States, added Pavlov, who told reporters materials for the case filled seven volumes, suggesting the FSB had been building a case against Safronov for quite some time.

The Czech Foreign ministry on July 8 declined to comment.

Safronov, 30, is known as for breaking stories on Russia’s defense sector and had worked in the Kremlin media pool, which travels with President Putin. Last year, he repeatedly was interrogated by the FSB over an article he wrote about the sale of Russian warplanes to Egypt.

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.

« Older Entries