Conflict & Tensions

Kiwis reach out to neighbours

New Zealand Defence Minister Andrew Little has signed a Status of Forces Agreement with Fiji in the latest phase of a broad regional outreach initiative which began in 2018. Kick-started by former prime minister Jacinda Arden, it comes at a time when China is trying to bring Pacific Island leaders onside. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. seeks extradition from Australia

Lawyers for former U.S. Marine aviator Daniel Duggan, 54, imprisoned in Australia since last October, are fighting an extradition order approved by the country’s attorney general. The U.S. wants to try him on an array of charges linked to his work as a private contractor allegedly training Chinese pilots on aircraft carrier landings. [node:read-more:link]

Ukraine nuclear plant mined

The International Atomic Energy Agency says its monitors at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine reported anti-personnel mines around the site. It did not attribute them to Russian forces, but the UN agency says the outward-facing mines are in “area controlled by military” and “should not affect the site’s nuclear safety and security systems.” [node:read-more:link]

Russia broadens its Ukraine front

A port on Ukraine’s side of the Danube River across from NATO member Romania was attacked by Russia July 24. The target was a grain storage facility as Russia escalated its campaign to cripple Ukraine’s agriculture export capacity. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said the “escalation poses serious risks to the security in the Black Sea” as well as impacting global food security. [node:read-more:link]

Continental awareness improved

Air Force General Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, said July 20 that the Chinese surveillance balloon that transited North America earlier this year exposed gaps in the U.S. ability to detect airborne threats and propelled the development of new surveillance technology. [node:read-more:link]

Cluster bombs effective in Ukraine

White House national security spokesman John Kirby says U.S. cluster munitions donated to Ukraine are being used “appropriately” and “effectively” against Russian troops. He also said July 20 that the weapons, banned by Canada and more than 120 other countries, are having an impact on Russian defences and manoeuvres. [node:read-more:link]

Zelenskyy fires U.K. envoy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today dismissed Vadym Prystaiko, his Ambassador to Britain, evidently for suggesting that his leader had resorted to “unhealthy sarcasm” in thanking Defence Secretary Ben Wallace for the U.K.’s support. Wallace had said Ukraine needed to show gratitude, prompting Zelenskyy to reply that Wallace should “write to me and tell me how to thank him.” [node:read-more:link]

No real hope for Cyprus federation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan doesn’t rule out the prospect of talks to resolve Cyprus’ ethnic division but he said today that he’s against any deal that won’t give Turkish Cypriots their own state. Prompted by a coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece, Turkey invaded in 1983 and still maintains more than 35,000 troops in the northern third of the island which is closer to Turkey than to Greece. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. NATO option constrained

In a transparent precautionary measure against Donald Trump’s potential return to the presidency in 2024, the Senate voted 65-28 for an initiative which would make it more difficult for a president to withdraw the U.S. from NATO. It would require two-thirds of the 100 Senators to vote for withdrawal. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. forces in Czech Republic?

A week after the Czech Republic’s Senate approved a treaty which would facilitate deployment of U.S. forces there, the lower house of parliament followed suit July 19. Defence Minister Jana Černochová, who signed the treaty in Washington in May, said the deal, which is similar to others the U.S. has in Europe, “is absolutely in our national interest.” [node:read-more:link]

Kiyv and Moscow threaten shipping

In response to Russian threats to consider civilian shipping calling at Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea as military targets, Ukraine said late July 19 that it is prepared to reciprocate. It said ships calling at Russian-controlled ports “may be considered by Ukraine as carrying military cargo with all the relevant risks.” [node:read-more:link]

More U.S. support for Ukraine

A $1.3- billion U.S. long-term support package announced July 19 for the Ukrainian military, including air defense systems and drones pushes total U.S. support past the $40-billion mark. However, compared with earlier drawdowns from U.S. stockpiles, however, this latest package of new materiel could take at least a year to deliver. [node:read-more:link]

Wagner drilling in Belarus

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said today that he has repositioned forces closer to the border with Belarus after Wagner Group mercenaries began week-long drills with Belarusian forces. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, an opposition leader who left Belarus after losing the 2020 to Alexander Lukashenko, said WG’s arrival will add to regional instability.” [node:read-more:link]

British MP derided over Afghanistan

British Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the parliamentary select defence committee, is accused of naïvety for calling Afghanistan peaceful and “transformed” under the Taliban. The former Army captain, back in Afghanistan recently with the Halo Trust de-mining organization, said his government should re-engage and reopen its embassy in Kabul. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian nuclear protocols updated

Federal emergency protocols for dealing with fallout from the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe or other radiation sources are being updated, including measures toensure that the government continues to function. The updates are in response to Russian rhetoric during its invasion of Ukraine. [node:read-more:link]


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