Conflict & Tensions

Latvia brigade plan signed off

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today it will take until 2026 for Canada to fulfil its promise to grow a NATO battle group in Latvia into to a combat-ready brigade. The two countries now have a “road map” which sets out three phases which will eventually involve as many as 2,200 persistently-deployed Canadian troops plus the ability to add hundreds of others as needed. [node:read-more:link]

Putin-Prigozhin meeting reported

The Kremlin said today that President Vladimir Putin met Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin five days after his mercenaries mutinied June 23. The Kremlin said Prigozhin was among 35 WG commanders invited to the meeting at which Putin suggested how the mercenaries could be involved in official combat roles. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. cluster bombs for Ukraine

After weeks of apparently agonizing discussion within the U.S. administration, President Joe Biden today defended his decision to provide Ukraine with cluster bombs. “The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition” in the fight against Russian forces, he said, describing the decision as a temporary move until production of conventional artillery munitions can be ramped up. [node:read-more:link]

Canada steadfast against cluster bombs

Shortly after the U.S. confirmed today that it is sending internationally-condemned cluster munitions to Ukraine, the Canadian government, which was instrumental in getting more than 100 countries to ban their use, said in a statement that it remains “committed to putting an end to the effects cluster munitions have on civilians, especially children.” [node:read-more:link]

Eleventh-hour talks at NATO

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Sweden and Turkey have made some progress in talks about the former’s proposed membership in the alliance. Talks are to continue over the weekend with a view to addressing Turkey’s concerns before the July 11-12 NATO summit in Lithuania. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. blacklists researchers

Chinese and Russian research institutes accused of “problematic activity” in the U.S. have been blacklisted by the Defense Department, which partners with hundreds of universities and institutions. When those bodies received funding from the now-banned entities, the relationship reportedly has been exploited for potential access to U.S. research. [node:read-more:link]

Growing support for European shield

Swiss officials have announced plans to participate in the European Sky Shield Initiative, the second neutral state after Austria to do so, but both say they will not participate in international conflicts. The ESSI was proposed in August 22 by Germany in response to concerns about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. [node:read-more:link]

Stoltenberg’s term extended

As expected, former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s tenure as NATO Secretary General has been extended for a year, until October 2024. Confirmed July 4, it is the fourth extension since he was appointed in 2014 and is taken as a sign that the 31-state alliance wants an experience hand at the helm during a time of growing international tensions. [node:read-more:link]

EU funding more defence projects

Forty-one defence projects in all domains are being underwritten by €842 million in new European Defense Fund support. Air, naval and space-based early warning projects are among the most high-profile ventures, notably closing gaps in airborne electronic attack capabilities. [node:read-more:link]

Russian war crimes targetted

Countries building cases against senior Russian leaders for the crime of aggression resulting from their invasion of Ukraine, are to be supported by a new international centre in The Hague. While it will not issue indictments or arrest warrants, it is described by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin as “a clear signal that the world is united and unwavering on the path to holding the Russian regime accountable.” The EU agreed July 3 to provide €8.3 million in start-up support. [node:read-more:link]

Hockey player charged with spying

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro says a Russian member of a major Polish hockey team has been detained on a charge of espionage. Arrested several weeks ago in southwestern Poland, he is one of 14 citizens of countries east of Poland who are suspected of monitoring rail traffic, spreading pro-Russia propaganda and plotting sabotage. [node:read-more:link]

The ethics of cluster munitions

The U.S. is still considering whether to provide Ukraine with cluster munitions but a decision evidently has been delayed by concerns about their potential for civilian victims. It has been pointed out that Ukraine and Russia already have used similar weapons and that unexploded ordinance already needs to be addressed. [node:read-more:link]

Weapons for Ukraine said slow

Valerii Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s military commander-in-chief since July 2021, says his country’s counteroffensive against Russia has been slowed by inadequate fire power, notably promised F-16 fighters. “They are needed […] because the enemy is using a different generation of aviation,” he said, also lamenting that his forces have only a fraction of what Russia is bringing to the conflict now in its 17th month. [node:read-more:link]

UN peacekeepers leaving Mali

The UN Security Council voted today to withdraw its 12,000 peacekeepers from Mali, where 187 peacekeepers have been killed during the 10-year mission. The country’s military regime has insisted on the withdrawal despite a persistent civil war in which the Russia mercenary Wagner Group has 1,000 members providing security. [node:read-more:link]


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