Interoperability (International)

NATO foreign ministers to meet

A virtual meeting of NATO foreign ministers is scheduled for Jan. 7 to assess the situation in Ukraine. The extraordinary meeting of the 30 alliance members kicks off a week of intense diplomacy over troop buildups along the Ukrainian border with Russian and U.S. officials meeting in Geneva Jan. 12 followed by talks in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna. [node:read-more:link]

Attacks force food aid shutdown

The UN World Food Programme suspended operations in Sudan’s North Darfur state today following raids on its warehouses in the capital this week. “This theft has robbed nearly two million people of the food and nutrition support they so desperately need,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “Not only is this a tremendous setback to our operations across the country, but it endangers our staff.” [node:read-more:link]

One solution to crowded prisons

Faced with prison overcrowding, Denmark has agreed to rent 300 prison cells from Kosovo at a cost of €15 million annually for an initial five years with deported criminals from non-EU countries subject to Danish laws. The deal also commits Denmark to helping to fund green energy development in Kosovo. [node:read-more:link]

Former CAF leader laments Afghan girl’s death

A 10-year-old Afghan girl preparing to come to Canada was recently killed at Taliban roadblock and retired MGen David Fraser, who commanded NATO troops in Kandahar, says her death shows that the federal government isn’t moving fast enough to patriate its former allies. The girl’s father had worked for the Canadian Armed Forces in Kandahar, and Kynan Walper, chief operations officer at a group helping them, agrees that “this young girl is dead because of delays in getting people over here.” [node:read-more:link]

Iran “accelerating” nuclear program: U.S.

A senior official in the current U.S. administration is quoted as saying that Iran has been “rapidly accelerating” its nuclear program since the previous administration withdrew from an international agreement in 2018. The deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. traded sanctions relief for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and the official reportedly says Iran’s resumption of development “should not have been a surprise to anybody that knows Iranian behavior.” [node:read-more:link]

Just what Moscow likes to hear?

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says it’s “unlikely” that NATO allies would deploy troops to defend Ukraine against a Russia invasion. “We shouldn’t kid people we would,” he says, and “the Ukrainians are aware of that” because their country is not a NATO member. As Russia insists that troops buildups along its borers with Ukraine are not a prelude to invasion, Wallace says Britain remains diplomatically “shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine.” [node:read-more:link]

“The most dangerous weapon”

The global public and private sectors were urged today by the JPMorgan International Council to collaborate more on countering cyber threats, which one member, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, calls “the most dangerous weapon in the world politically, economically and militarily.” An international corporate panel, the New York-based council has 250 members from 19 countries who convene annually. [node:read-more:link]

NATO increasing cyber defence posture

Moving into 2022, NATO is investing in investing in new cyber defence capabilities and refreshing policy, building on lessons from recent exercises such as Cyber Coalition 2021 in Estonia. The alliance’s Assistant Secretary-General for Emergency Security Challenges, David van Weel of the Netherlands, says the cost to member states will be up to €1 billion. [node:read-more:link]

Slow progress on Afghan refugees

Only about 10 per cent of the 40,000 Afghan refugees the federal government promised to bring into the country have arrived and it could take up to two years to resettle everyone. “When you're trying to move 40,000 people out of the most challenging environments imaginable, one of the most dangerous places in the world today, it's not easy,” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser said after seven weeks on the job. “What I'm really encouraged by is that we're starting to see a regular pace.” [node:read-more:link]

Canadian charged in cyberattacks

Matthew Philbert, 31, of Ottawa faces three cybercrime charges after being identified by Canadian and U.S. authorities as responsible for a series of cyberattacks, including at least one against an Alaskan government network. He was arrested by Ontario Provincial Police Nov. 30 after a 23-month international investigation. [node:read-more:link]

Delta variant a priority in some regions

The World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe said today that while it is unclear whether the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible or causes more severe illness than others, Delta surges in Europe and Central Asia are the orgnization’s current priority. “However we succeed against Delta today is a win over Omicron tomorrow before it eventually surges,” Hans Kluge said. [node:read-more:link]

WHO urges caution, not panic

The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said today that while the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is highly transmissible, a new vaccine may not be needed. “How worried should we be,” she rhetorized. “We need to be prepared and cautious, not panic, because we're in a different situation to a year ago. . . . The vaccines are still providing protection and we would hope that they would continue to provide protection.” [node:read-more:link]

More NATO troops in Ukraine?

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Dec. 1 that Russia faces “severe costs” if it invades neighbouring Ukraine and that NATO is ready to increase its presence. “We must prepare for all contingencies,” Blinken said after an alliance ministerial meeting in Riga ahead of a planned meeting in Sweden today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. [node:read-more:link]

Soaring need for humanitarian aid

The UN says the global need for humanitarian aid is rocketing toward an all-time high in 2022 as COVID-19, climate change and regional conflicts exacerbate the prospect of widespread famine. Accordingly, its humanitarian relief arm appealed today for a record US$41 billion in funding to help people it says are most in need, up from $35 billion in 2021 and double what it sought four years ago. [node:read-more:link]

Putin presses for guarantees

President Vladimir Putin said Dec. 1 that he wants “legal guarantees” that NATO would stop deployments near Ukraine’s borders with Russia. “Any agreements must take interests of Russia and all Euro-Atlantic countries into account,” he told newly-accredited foreign diplomats. “A calm and stable situation must be ensured for all.” [node:read-more:link]


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