Tag Archives: defence

EU Defence ministers convene in Brussels

Brussels 17.05.2022 The EU Defence Ministers convene in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Strategic Compass with a focus on the future of CSDP missions and operations. 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 roadmap 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. The Compass covers all the aspects of the security and defence policy and is structured around four pillars: act, invest, partner and secure.

The other focus of attention is Russian aggression against Ukraine.A Ukrainian military base about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Poland was targeted in a Russian missile attack early Tuesday morning, according to Maksym Kozytsky, head of the Lviv regional military administration. He gave no further details in a late-night Telegram post.

Informal lunch with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov (via videoconference).

The Russian President Vladimir Putin said the entry of Sweden and Finland into the US-led alliance will not create a threat to Russia, but military expansion into the territory will “certainly cause our response.” The Swedish government said on its website that it has decided to apply for NATO membership, following a similar declaration from Finland on Sunday.

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.”

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.

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.

EU needs more “European Defence”

Brussels 02.09.2021 “Today, we are going to have a meeting that will be dominated by the events in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be the backdrop of our discussions today” said the High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival to Informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers.

“I think that it is clear that the need for more ‘European Defence’ has never been as evident as today – after the events in Afghanistan. I am sure that the Ministers will discuss how to face this new situation and how we can be more prepared for future challenges.

“The Strategic Compass is a work in progress. In a couple of months, I think we will be able to present the report of our work, but sometimes there are events that catalyse the history. Something happens and pushes the history, it creates a breakthrough. I think that the events in Afghanistan this summer are one of these cases.

“I hope that today the discussion will be more lively and we will be more engaged on concrete results – no, [there will be no] decisions today, because it is an informal meeting, but to prepare, no later than October or November, the final draft of the Strategic Compass”.

According to Reuters news agency in the last call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Afghanistan counterpart before the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, the leaders discussed military aid, political strategy and messaging tactics, but neither Biden nor Ashraf Ghani appeared aware of or prepared for the imminent danger of the entire country falling to feet of insurgents, a transcript reviewed is a convincing evidence of this lack of awareness.

The politicians spoke for roughly 14 minutes on July 23. On August 15, Ghani fled the presidential palace, and the Taliban entered Kabul. Since then, tens of thousands of desperate Afghans have fled and 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians were killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport during the frenetic U.S. military evacuation.

EU defence progress

Brussels, 20.11.2020 The Council approved conclusions on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Strategic Review 2020. The review assesses the progress made on PESCO and provides guidance for the next phase (2021-2025) on the overall aim, policy goals, incentives and projects. (Image: Dassault Rafale factory, France).

The review highlights the need to fulfil the more binding commitments and achieve concrete outputs and tangible deliverables by 2025.

It stresses the importance of making tangible progress towards a coherent Full Spectrum Force Package that strengthens the EU’s military ability to act. It also highlights and reaffirms key objectives such as those connected to defence investments, more systematic use of EU defence tools in national planning processes, enhancing the EU’s operational effectiveness and developing the necessary capabilities.

The review highlights some incentives for giving PESCO more visibility at the political level and increasing the degree of transparency between member states on the way in which they are fulfilling their commitments, notably in the operational area.

The review also highlights a list of 26 PESCO projects which will deliver concrete results or reach full operational capability before the end of 2025.

Launched in December 2017, PESCO represents a step-change in defence cooperation within the European Union. PESCO is a framework which allows willing and able EU member states to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

To date 25 EU member states have undertaken binding commitments that form the basis of PESCO. There are currently 46 collaborative projects in various areas: training facilities, land formation systems, maritime and air systems, cyber, and enabling joint multiple services or space projects.

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

On 5 November, the Council established the general conditions under which non-EU countries could exceptionally be invited to participate in individual PESCO projects, thereby paving the way for stronger and more ambitious defence cooperation with partners in the EU framework.

NATO extends Stoltenberg mandate

NATO Allies agreed on March 28, 2019 to extend the mandate of Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (60) by a further two years, until 30 September 2022.

Jens StoltenbergNorwegian politician, who served twice as Prime minister. During his mandates the defence spending increased substantially, resulting in Norway becoming one of the highest per capita defence contributors among allies of NATO. He has been enhancing  modernisation of the Norwegian armed forces, and conducted policies contributing troops to various NATO operations.

Merkel wishes Brexit on “good terms”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said  she wanted the UK and the European Union to part on good terms.

I care now that we and Britain divorce in a good process so that afterwards we can still work closely together in the areas where we must cooperate – on defense, on domestic security, on policing, on combating terrorism, and in trade too, and so that Britain can take part in our research projects if they want,Merkel said.

Stoltenberg on 'essential' dialog with Russia

“Dialogue can be difficult, but it is also essential and in times of raised tensions, such as now, it is particularly important to keep channels of communication open. At today’s meeting, we had a frank and useful discussion on three key issues: Ukraine, Afghanistan, and transparency and risk reduction. In the case of Ukraine, NATO Allies and Russia continue to have fundamental disagreements. The Crimean issue and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine remain clear points of contention, and heavy weapons have not been withdrawn from the conflict zone. The Minsk Agreements provide the best chance of a solution to the conflict, but they need to be implemented, and the work of the OSCE monitors need to be allowed to proceed unimpeded.”

“At today’s meeting, we also discussed the security situation in Afghanistan, which remains challenging. A stable Afghanistan is essential to regional security. NATO Allies and Russia share a common interest to support the National Unity government and to work towards a free, safe and democratic Afghanistan.”

“The third and final topic we discussed was transparency and risk reduction. At previous meetings of the NATO-Russia Council we have given reciprocal briefings on exercises and force posture. Such exchanges are important elements of our continuing dialogue. They help to limit the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculation and unintended escalation. This is why it was significant that at today’s meeting, we exchanged advance briefings on upcoming exercises. Russia briefed on the upcoming ZAPAD 2017 exercise, and NATO briefed on Exercise Trident Javelin 2017. I am encouraged by this progress.  It is a dialogue that can continue at future meetings of this Council.”

“At the same time, these voluntary exchanges do not substitute for the mandatory transparency required under the Vienna Document.”

“So, today’s meeting covered a range of different topics. Our discussion was frank and constructive. Allies and Russia may hold different views but we are committed to continuing our dialogue as part of our commitment to preserving peace and security.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg remaks following the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council

Juncker: EU defence agenda launch

“As you know, the Commission was launching a defence agenda in the recent weeks, and last Wednesday we decided to put into place a European Defence Fund. This Defence Fund is contributing to reduce the inefficiency and the fragmentation costs we are facing dearly”  – said the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at Prague defence and security conference on Friday, 9.06.2017.

“This is not a counter-project to NATO – we are acting together with NATO. I had long conversations before coming here with the Secretary General of NATO. And that is the reason why I was stating this morning that no NATO is not an option for the European Union – it would be a disaster for the European Union – because we have to stick together and we will stick together,” – Juncker added at press-conference in Prague, Friday, 9.06.2017.

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