Wildfires evolving into national threat

As of June 6, a total 424 wildfires were burning across Canada, more than 250 of which are considered out of control. This is according to a briefing by seven federal cabinet ministers who said the current fire situation, being fought by civilian and military responders, is one of the most severe on record and that the long-range forecast is for continued abnormal fire activity. [node:read-more:link]

Iran-Saudi maritime plan questioned

Iran’s assertion that will establish a naval alliance with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations “defies reason,” says a U.S. Navy officer with the 34-nation Combined Maritime Forces fleet, which includes rotations of Canadian warships and aircraft. “The number one cause of regional instability claims it wants […] to protect the very waters it threatens,” says Commander Tim Hawkins, pointing out that Iran has attacked or seize 15 internationally-flagged merchant ships in the past two years. [node:read-more:link]

Close encounter on Canadian video

Video shot from aboard HMCS Montreal during a recent transit of the Taiwan Strait with a U.S. destroyer shows a Chinese warship cutting close across the destroyer’s bow. Defending the tactic, China’s defence minister Li Shangfu says other countries should “mind your own business.” [node:read-more:link]

The politics of promotion

Recent announcements about the two top positions in North American Aerospace & Defence Command underscore how U.S. promotions and senior command appointments are more politicized than they are in Canada, a situation enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. [node:read-more:link]

Ukrainian weapons upgrades delayed

Fighter jets and U.S. tanks promised to Ukraine won’t be ready for a spring counteroffensive against Russia, says General Mark Milley, Chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. While training on M1 Abrams tanks has just begun, training on allies’ F-16s is still being negotiated and Milley’s French counterpart says upgrading Ukraine’s capabilities is a mid-to-long-term goal [node:read-more:link]

Major Ukrainian assault stopped?

Russia said today that it had thwarted a “large scale” Ukrainian attack June 4 at five points in the eastern province of Donetsk, one of four regions Russia annexed last fall. Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said 40 armured vehicles, including 16 tanks, were destroyed and 250 troops killed but there was no corroboration by Ukraine [node:read-more:link]

China fears “unbearable disaster”

China’s new defence minister, General Li Shangfu, warned June 4 that war with the U.S. would be an “unbearable disaster” for the world. During the Shangri-la Dialogue summit in Singapore, he accused the U.S. of having “a Cold War mentality” and “greatly increasing security risks” but said the two countries should seek common ground. [node:read-more:link]

Anand reasserts Indo-Pacific stance

Defence Minister Anita Anand, in Singapore June 3 for the Shangri-la Dialogue on intergovernmental security, announced June 3 that Canada is reinforcing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region by deploying a second Royal Canadian Navy warship as well as increasing Canadian involvement in international exercises. The RCN currently has the frigate HMCS Montreal and the support ship Asterix deployed in the region. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian frigate annoys China

HMCS Montreal transited the of Taiwan Strait without incident June 3 in convoy with a U.S. destroyer but drew a sharp rebuke from China for “deliberately provoking risk” even though the passage was in international waters. U.S. warships transit the strait roughly once a month, not usually with allies’ ships. The RCN vessel departed from its Halifax homeport March 26 as part of Canada’s commitment to Indo-Pacific security. [node:read-more:link]

Cliff-hanger U.S. budget bill

After months of brutal political infighting in Congress, President Joe Biden today signed into law a bill to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling for two years. “If we had failed to reach an agreement on the budget, there were extreme voices threatening to take America, for the first time in our 247-year, into default on our national debt,” Biden said. “Nothing would have been more irresponsible.” Without the legislation, the U.S. would have been in default June 5 and most federal programs would have been affected. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. defence budget still contentious

The ink wasn’t dry on the latest U.S. budget legislation approved June 1 by Congress after a long and fractious debate when Republican Senators began looking for ways to increase the bill’s $886-billion military envelope. Their tactics include an emergency spending bill which could include tacking other defence priorities onto a Ukraine aid package which Congress is expected to consider this year. [node:read-more:link]

Bombardier challenges Boeing prospect

The RCAF has a clear preference for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon as a replacement for its legacy Lockheed Martin CP-140 Aurora surveillance fleet but Montreal-based Bombardier Aviation was a “fair competition” for the as yet-unfunded program. “They claim they have the best aircraft, so I’m sure they're not afraid to go into competition,” says Jean-Christophe Gallagher, Bombardier's executive VP for aircraft sales and defence. [node:read-more:link]

China wants Ukraine weapons aid ended

China’s envoy for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, said today that Ukraine’s allies should stop weapons shipments and focus on negotiating peace with Russia. He acknowledged that there would be “many difficulties” in setting up talks but insisted that “the two sides have not fully shut the door.” [node:read-more:link]

NATO historically complacent?

British Defence Secretary, considered a potential successor to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, a Norwegian politician who has held the post since 2014, says members’ military budgets must grow if Russian expansionism is to be countered. “The world is getting more dangerous, more insecure and more anxious, and the next secretary general has to be able to deliver that,” he says. “Until Ukraine happened, there were too many people who didn’t want to see the threat from Putin, and look where we are now.” [node:read-more:link]

Zelenskyy pitches NATO and EU

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took his quest for more arms as well as EU and NATO membership to a European Political Community summit today in Moldova. It was apparent, however, that the response from NATO leaders meeting in Norway was divided. [node:read-more:link]


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