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nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Europe's political landscape is in a state of profound flux, one that presents real challenges to those continental nations who see their interests best served by a combination of effective, geopolitically balanced European institutions and a robust transatlantic alliance. This is true for countries like Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, countries notably effective in maintaining a sound balance between these two strategic principals.

The continent faces a plethora of disruptive and divisive dynamics. It is a focal point of Great Power aggression. Russia is using military force to revise European borders, and both Moscow and Beijing are using economic, cyber, and social media to sow discord within and across nations – and to pillage their economic assets. Populist movements, many fueled by Moscow, are undercutting commitment to both the European Union and NATO. On top of all this, economic fragility looms like a dark storm cloud over Europe.

In the future the EU political and economic power will decrease, but also the trans-Atlantic relation can deteriorate. This will affect the role of NATO. In the EU France and Germany will become more influential, if not preponderant, drivers of decisions within that institution. That too will leave the EU more vulnerable to bouts of anti-Americanism and to those who pursue EU "strategic autonomy" to weaken the role of NATO.

sergei suhhankinOn February 28, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that their Northern Fleet (NF) had created an additional Air Defense (Voyska Protivovozdushnoy—PVO) division, ensuring that, "the Northern Sea Route [NSR] is now under steady protection", writes Sergei Sukhankin. He noted that protection of the east–west NSR, which follows Russia's northern coast, as well as "the defence of vital industrial objects and protection of Russia's economic interests in the Arctic zone" is a task jointly performed by the NF, the Russian Airborne Forces (Vozdushno-Desantnye Voyska—VDV), the Aerospace Forces (Vozdushno Kosmicheskikh Sil—VKS) and the Special Operations Forces (SOF). Furthermore, by the end of 2020, the NF "will receive more than 180 pieces of military equipment specifically tailored for the harsh conditions of the Arctic region," which will include, among others, "the K-549 Knyaz Vladimir, a Borei-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, and the Admiral Flota Kasatonov frigate" as well as "four capital ships, submarines and motor ships" .

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All-year Arctic sea ice has been reaching measured minimum levels over the last 20 years. Russia has established and reopened military bases on land, and invested heavily in icebreakers/ice capable ships. Other nations have not made any significant response until very recently. The Northern Sea Route has been open for longer, and greater tonnages have been shipped to and from Asia as a consequence (saving around 10 days sailing time) International organisations exist but there is a juxtaposition of national and international waters. Analysis suggests the presence of substantial deposits of hydrocarbons and minerals under the Arctic Ocean, much currently unreachable. For purposes of reportage, events in 2019 are sub divided into military; commercial and environmental/miscellaneous headings.on the following pages.

USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVERIf China is to become a world power, Beijing must first become the dominant power in Asia, writes Joseph E Fallon.

If China is to become the dominant power in Asia, Beijing must first break a maritime containment imposed by the three island chains created by the U.S. during the Cold War.

These "chains" described by Chinese authors as "barriers that China must penetrate to achieve freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain" have "become benchmarks that in many ways define the field of play as China's regional maritime power expands."

memorial2 nWe mark the passing of those who served this country, including Wing Cdr Paul Farnes - one of the last 3 known Battle of Britain Fighter Command pilots (Flt Lt William Clark, F.O. John Hemingway).

Contributions from comrades and families welcome.

Olivier GuittaFormer Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said in 2013: "The international community cannot tolerate a state in the middle of the Mediterranean that is a source of terrorism, violence and murder.

" Unfortunately, seven years later, the situation has only gotten worse and Libya has become one of the theaters of violence in which all the world powers wage war on a proxy basis. Each nation defends the camp it has chosen to support, but more direct involvement from a country like Turkey will only fuel chaos and violence.

Unsurprisingly, on January 2, the Turkish parliament voted for a one-year authorization to send troops to Libya to support the Fayez al-Sarraj Government of National Accord (GNA), writes Olivier Guitta. President Erdogan had not really waited for this vote since in the last few weeks 300 Syrian mercenaries have already been fighting in Libya alongside the GNA. In addition, 1,000 other Syrian mercenaries are undergoing training in Turkish camps before being sent to Libya. Turkey is already de facto the subcontractor of the GNA, carrying out military operations from Tripoli and Misrata. Also, Ankara had already sent -in 2019- military advisers, weapons and 20 drones, supplied directly by a company belonging to Erdogan's son-in-law. The GNA openly prides itself on receiving military equipment directly from Turkey. This is all the more ironic since GNA, which is the government set up and approved by the United Nations, is in full violation of UN resolutions banning the importation of weapons into Libya.

Soleimani was Iran's most important military strategist and tactician in Tehran's long-standing campaign to expand Shi'ite and Iranian influence throughout the Middle East. Dexter Filkins, a veteran chronicler of Middle East conflict, described him in a profile in the New Yorker magazine as "the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,2 Jammie Dettmer wrote in a profile for VOA.

That's an assessment shared by current and former U.S. officials.

"We have killed one of the most significant militant actors inside the Iranian government," said Patrick Kimmitt, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. "It takes the whole issue of the United States and Iran, and the United States and Iraq to a whole new place. This is an inflection point that can't be understated."

sratfordownloadRare earth elements are used in very small amounts, but their significance to the defence sector, despite it making up a small proportion of the total demand, and to emerging and potentially disruptive technologies, combined with China's control over the majority of the market, has given them outsized geopolitical relevance.


Rare earth mining, processing and fabrication capabilities will even more strongly influence geopolitical dynamics in the coming years as the world undergoes its nascent energy transition and transportation evolution. In the near term, China will benefit from its near-monopoly, but ultimately its own growing domestic demand will limit the duration of its control over the sector and eventually force production diversification.

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Recent unexpectedly rapid melting of Arctic Ocean sea ice has captured the public imagination and created the impression of a „Race for the Arctic" with some countries scrambling for access to new trade routes, fishing grounds, energy and other seabed resources that could disturb the current geopolitical balance, writes Lutz Feldt. Others are concerned by the consequences of indiscriminate exploitation for the environment and indigenous peoples and fear possible conflict in the region.

Beneath the heightened political rhetoric, national posturing and media hype about unresolved territorial claims, huge hydrocarbon resources and disappearing polar bears, lies a complex and dynamic picture of disputed science, with inadequate data and unreliable predictions and increasing volatility in the energy market that is not conducive to long term investment and which may affect stability.

In such a fluid situation there is clearly scope for opportunism and miscalculation to lead to friction, which if mishandled could develop into military inter-state conflict.

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