International

Collaboration with Chinese military

Researchers at 50 Canadian universities have collaborated for nearly two decades with Chinese military scientists at the National University of Defence Technology, according to Strider Technologies, a strategic intelligence company headquartered in Utah. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has warned that China increasingly uses joint academic research to obtain innovative science and technology. NUDT was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2015 because it posed a “significant risk” to national-security or foreign-policy interests. [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]

Pentagon disavows war speculation

A senior USAF officer’s suggestion that war with China could happen by 2025 has led the Department of Defense to quickly distance itself from his comments. “I hope I am wrong,” General Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command said in a memo, generating global headlines. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.” The DoD said January 28 that it disagrees with his assessment. [node:read-more:link]

Italy collaborating on nextgen fighter

The Italian defence ministry has contracted with four of the country’s defence firms for development along with Britain and Japan of next-generation fighter. An evolution of the British-led Tempest initiative, the Global Combat Air Program, has targetted 2035 to begin production. [node:read-more:link]

Bigger defence budget for Poland

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki today unveiled plans to increase his country’s defence budget this year to four per cent of GDP from the current level of nearly 2.5 per cent. “The war in Ukraine makes us arm ourselves even faster,” he said. “That is why this year we will make an unprecedented effort” he said, adding that the increase “might mean that this will be the highest percentage . . . among all NATO countries.” [node:read-more:link]

Coronavirus here to stay?

The World Health Organization said today that the coronavirus remain a global emergency even though an expert panel says higher levels of immunity can virus-related deaths. “There is no doubt that we're in a far better situation” than a year ago, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urging vulnerable group to be fully vaccinated and ignore “misinformation” about masking and social distancing. [node:read-more:link]

Wagner Group a criminal body

The Russian mercenary Wagner Group has been designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a “transnational criminal organization” responsible for atrocities in Ukraine. Molly Dunigan, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a California-based global policy think tank, says Wagner “historically has just been . . . no-holds-barred in terms of brutality against civilians in the population in which they operate.” [node:read-more:link]

Czech president a former NATO official

Petr Pavel, 61, a former Czech Republic army general and head of NATO’s military committee, was elected to the country’s presidency January 28. Campaigning as a social liberal, he promised to keep the country firmly anchored in the West and will take office in March. [node:read-more:link]

Germany re-kits its troops

An accelerated procurement process in German is designed to equip “each and every” soldier personnel equipment such as protective gear, night vision goggles, and rucksacks inside the next three years. It could have taken nearly double that time under normal circumstances but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added real-world urgency to the task. [node:read-more:link]

Journalists guilty of intelligence breach

A court in Helsinki today found two Finnish journalists from a major daily newspaper guilty of revealing classified defence intelligence information in 2017. The lead writer was fined for divulging what was described as publicly-available 10-year-old information of the approximate location and mission of Finnish defence forces, but his colleague was not sentenced. [node:read-more:link]

Fiji breaking accord with China

Fiji’s new government, elected in December, today suspended its police commissioner and its elections supervisor as it beefs up ties with Australia and New Zealand and prepares to terminate a contentious policing agreement with China. “Our system of democracy and justice systems are different so we will go back to those that have similar systems with us,” explained Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. [node:read-more:link]

The “Russian Arctic Threat”

Despite Russia’s commitment of apparently dwindling resources to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s Northern Fleet’s ballistic missile submarine and strategic bomber capabilities remain intact, according to a report this week from the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. its authors note that the Arctic remains “of great strategic value”, especially the Kola Peninsula as a gateway for attack and ballistic missile submarines to reach the Atlantic. [node:read-more:link]

Hungary to meet NATO goal early?

Recent joint ventures with foreign defence manufacturers evidently will enable Hungary to boost military expenditure to NATO’s target of two per cent of gross domestic product a year earlier than expected. The deals with the state-owned N7 Holding company are part of a large-scale effort to procure new weapons and production facilities. [node:read-more:link]

USN drydocks shut for seismic review

The U.S. Navy is suspending submarine repairs at four dry docks in Washington state due to concerns about their possible vulnerability to seismic activity. Stressing that there is “no immediate risk,” the USN says the decision enables a team of experts to assess three drydocks at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard drydocks in Bremerton and one at the Trident Refit Facility in nearby Bangor. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. Army reservist spied for China

A former U.S. Army reservist has been sentenced by a Chicago court to eight years in prison for spying for China by collecting information on aerospace scientists and engineers. Ji Chaoqun, 31, enlisted through a program to recruit foreigners who have skills considered vital to the national interest; he was convicted of falsifying answers on a government background form. [node:read-more:link]

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