Weapons

Rheinmetall to supply ammo to Ukraine

The German Ministry of Defence has tasked Rheinmetall with supplying 300,000 rounds of 35mm ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft tank, which is now deployed by the Ukrainian military. Valued in the low three-digit million euro range, the first shipments are expected to be delivered this summer. [node:read-more:link]

Ukraine allies dig deep into ammo

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said today that the alliance members supporting embattled Ukraine have tapped their arsenals so deeply that they need new stockpile guidelines while working with manufacturers to replenish them. “The current rate of ammunition consumption is higher, bigger than the current rate of production,” he said. “Orders placed today will only be delivered two-and-a-half years later.” [node:read-more:link]

Saab “double-doubles” weapons output

Sweden’s Saab AB expects its annual output of its ground combat weapons to reach 400,000 units. “We have doubled capacity from one year to the next . . . and by 2025 we will have doubled capacity again,” says CEO Micael Johansson. “It is a huge ramp up. . . . We have invested now in building up capacity to the extent that it will be sufficient for quite some time.” [node:read-more:link]

Malaysian Airlines MH17 update

A Dutch-led team of investigators says there are “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the supply of the Buk missile to separatists who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 283 aboard, most of whom were Dutch. Russia has consistently denied any involvement. [node:read-more:link]

High hopes for HIMARS

A proposed sale of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to Poland, worth an estimated $10 billion, has been approved by the U.S. State Department but still requires Senate endorsement. Warsaw first indicated its interest in May 2022 and the Lockheed Martin weapons have been used by Ukraine to devastating effect against invading Russian forces. [node:read-more:link]

Turkey under renewed pressure

Bipartisan forces in the U.S. Senate are pressing President Joe Biden to block a $20-billion arms sale to Turkey as long as it continues to block NATO membership for Sweden and Finland. “Once the NATO accession protocols are ratified . . . Congress can consider the sale,” the Senators say in a letter to Biden. “Failure to do so, however, would call into question this pending sale.” [node:read-more:link]

French seize Yemen-bound arms

Thousands of rifles, machineguns and anti-tank missiles shipped by Iran to Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen were intercepted by the French navy in the Gulf of Oman last month. Iran did not immediately acknowledge the seizure which was disclosed February 2, but images of the weapons showed they were similar to U.S. interceptions. [node:read-more:link]

Cryptotheft funding North Korea nukes?

New York-based Chainalysis, which analyzes the cryptocurrency market, reported February 1 that North Korea-backed hackers stole US$1.7 billion in 2022, nearly quadruple their theft in 2021 and accounting for 44 per cent of all cryptocurrency hacks last year. Critics say North Korea uses the proceeds to accelerate nuclear weapons development. [node:read-more:link]

Ukraine continues push for fighters

Even though U.S. and Britain have dismissed the notion, Ukraine continues to press other NATO members to supply fighter aircraft President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says are critical to counter Russia’s invasion. Latvia and Poland evidently are receptive to the call and France has not discounted it. “I don’t know how quick it will be, this response from Western allies,” says Ukrainian Defense [node:read-more:link]

New START talks not restarting

The U.S. Administration has told Congress that Russia’s refusal to allow resumption of on-site inspections is endangering the New START nuclear treaty and arms control overall. The January 31 statement follows months of more optimistic U.S. assessments despite ongoing tensions between the two countries. Both paused inspections due to pandemic-related issues but Russia unilaterally ended cooperation in August 2022 to protest U.S. support for Ukraine. [node:read-more:link]

Landmines used in Ukraine

Human Rights Watch is calling for an investigation into the “apparent use” of antipersonnel landmines by Ukrainian forces in part of Kharkiv province when it was Russian-occupied. HRW said January 31 that the “butterfly” or “petal” munitions, proscribed by the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty that Ukraine ratified in 2005, “hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid and prevent agricultural activities.” [node:read-more:link]

South Korea urged to expand Ukraine support

Even though it has a policy of not exporting military materiel to countries involved in conflict, South Korea is being urged by NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg to “step up” support for Ukraine. He thanked South Korea for its nonlethal aid to date but said there is an “urgent need” for ammunition and pointed out that some NATO countries also had amended “longstanding policies not to export weapons to countries in conflict.” [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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