Conflict & Tensions

Pentagon disavows war speculation

A senior USAF officer’s suggestion that war with China could happen by 2025 has led the Department of Defense to quickly distance itself from his comments. “I hope I am wrong,” General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command said in a memo, generating global headlines. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.” The DoD said January 28 that it disagrees with his assessment. [node:read-more:link]

Bigger defence budget for Poland

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki today unveiled plans to increase his country’s defence budget this year to four per cent of GDP from the current level of nearly 2.5 per cent. “The war in Ukraine makes us arm ourselves even faster,” he said. “That is why this year we will make an unprecedented effort” he said, adding that the increase “might mean that this will be the highest percentage . . . among all NATO countries.” [node:read-more:link]

Ukraine support slammed by NATO member

Elected in 2019 as a left-leaning liberal, Croatian President Zoran Milanov today criticized NATO allies for supplying Ukraine with weapons in its campaign against Russia, saying it only would prolong the war. “What is the goal: disintegration of Russia, change of the government?” asked Milanov, who has shifted to populist nationalism. “There is also talk of tearing Russia apart. . . . It is clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine.” [node:read-more:link]

Wagner Group a criminal body

The Russian mercenary Wagner Group has been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a “transnational criminal organization” responsible for atrocities in Ukraine. Molly Dunigan, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a California-based global policy think tank, says Wagner “historically has just been . . . no-holds-barred in terms of brutality against civilians in the population in which they operate.” [node:read-more:link]

Czech president a former NATO official

Petr Pavel, 61, a former Czech Republic army general and head of NATO’s military committee, was elected to the country’s presidency January 28. Campaigning as a social liberal, he promised to keep the country firmly anchored in the West and will take office in March. [node:read-more:link]

Germany re-kits its troops

An accelerated procurement process in German is designed to equip “each and every” soldier personnel equipment such as protective gear, night vision goggles, and rucksacks inside the next three years. It could have taken nearly double that time under normal circumstances but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added real-world urgency to the task. [node:read-more:link]

Fiji breaking accord with China

Fiji’s new government, elected in December, today suspended its police commissioner and its elections supervisor as it beefs up ties with Australia and New Zealand and prepares to terminate a contentious policing agreement with China. “Our system of democracy and justice systems are different so we will go back to those that have similar systems with us,” explained Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. [node:read-more:link]

The “Russian Arctic Threat”

Despite Russia’s commitment of apparently dwindling resources to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarine and strategic bomber capabilities remain intact, according to a report this week from the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. its authors note that the Arctic remains “of great strategic value”, especially the Kola Peninsula as a gateway for attack and ballistic missile submarines to reach the Atlantic. [node:read-more:link]

Iran has nukes potential

Nuclear nonproliferation experts have suggested for months Iran had enough highly-enriched uranium to build at least one weapon and now the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the stockpile is larger than thought. He said January 24 that while “we need to be extremely careful” in describing the program Iran insists is for peaceful purposes, “they have amassed enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons, not one at this point.” [node:read-more:link]

Canadians flocking to Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine 11 months ago, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country needed fighters, including foreigners. Canadians were among the earliest to heed the call, alone or in groups, and the Ukrainian Foreign Legion said a short while later that they were “one of the most numerous nationalities” in its ranks. Several have died in combat but the federal government says it is not monitoring anyone going to Ukraine. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. military exports booming

The rush by European allies to shore up Ukrainian defences, thereby depleting their own materiel, contributed significantly to a 49 per cent jump in U.S. military sales to foreign governments last year. The State Department says the total value was US$51.9 billion, excluding direct commercial sales which rose by a similar percentage to $153.7 billion. [node:read-more:link]

Russia reacts predictably to tank news

Today’s announcements that Germany, Poland and the U.S. as well as other NATO members would be sending up to 88 main battle tanks to Ukraine yielded a predictable initial response from Russia. “This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation,” said its envoy in Germany, Sergei Nechayev, warning that it would lead to “the death of not only Russian soldiers, but also the civilian population.” He also said Ukraine’s allies are “not interested in a diplomatic solution.” [node:read-more:link]

German Leopards for Ukraine

After months of internal debate and under pressure from many allies which use its Leopard 2 main battle tanks, the German government agreed today to send an initial 14, paving the way for other countries, including Canada, to do likewise. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his “important and timely decisions” on the tanks and other weapons, saying they are a “green light for partners” to follow suit. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. commits Abrams MBTs to Ukraine

President Joe Biden announced today that the U.S. will send a battalion of 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine. However, they are not expected to arrive for months as the Pentago addresses challenges in providing the equipment, fuel and training to operate the 70-ton vehicles which, unlike other diesel-powered MTBs, are powered by gas turbines. [node:read-more:link]

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