Sunday, February 18, 2024

NewsHorizon

Where your horizon expands every day.

European

against Russian-backed separatists Kyiv is concerned that the conflict in Israel will hinder its efforts to combat separatists backed by Russia.


Presented by ASD.

POLITICO Pro Morning Defense

You can either view this in your web browser or listen to it as an audio file.

By JOSHUA POSANER

with LAURA KAYALI, CALEB LARSON, VERONIKA MELKOZEROVA and STUART LAU

PRESENTED BY

ASD

SNEAK PEEK

Kyiv expresses concern that the conflict in Israel may divert attention from its ongoing battle against Russia, but the U.S. maintains that it is capable of providing support to both allies simultaneously.

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană stated that there is no indication of war fatigue among NATO defense ministers, as they convene on Wednesday to discuss support for Kyiv.

EU member states have agreed to a reduced joint ammunition purchasing plan called EDIRPA, with the goal of supporting the defense sector within the bloc.

Hello and welcome to the Morning Defense newsletter. This is the inaugural edition of our daily briefing on European defense policy updates and insights. To begin, NATO defense ministers will gather on Wednesday and Thursday for their first significant summit since the Vilnius summit in July. Additionally, we are closely monitoring the dynamic developments in Israel.

I am Josh Posaner, writing to you from Brussels. I will primarily cover EU defense policy and space, as well as the U.K. My colleague Laura Kayali in Paris will focus on France’s large defense industry, global trends, and cybersecurity. Caleb Larson in Berlin will keep track of developments in Germany, with a special focus on Ukraine. This is our core team, led by our editor Jan Cienski. There will be more detailed introductions later.

Attention: Today is our initial day and we are eager to begin with a strong start. Our DataPoint presentation on defense spending in Europe is now available, including information on NATO contributions and aid to Ukraine. Have a great time reading it!

DRIVING THE DAY

The country of Ukraine is concerned about the potential consequences of the ongoing conflict in Israel, as it may divert attention away from their own battle against Russia. This could lead to a decrease in support for Ukraine among certain nations. To address this issue, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov will be attending a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

Oleksandr Merezhko, the leader of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign policy committee, stated to Morning Defense that while he can only speak for himself, there are concerns about the USA’s ability to provide financial and military assistance to both Ukraine and Israel. However, he believes that the USA’s strength in these areas will ultimately prevent this from becoming a problem.

According to Ukrainian lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezhyank, the current military conflict in Israel may divert attention away from Ukraine. However, it is too soon to determine if this will lead to a division of world opinion or a strengthening of democratic unity against various threats.

According to American officials, Israel is in immediate need of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, and additional interceptors for their Iron Dome air defense system. These officials have also informed lawmakers that the government is considering using a portion of the $100 million available for presidential drawdown authority to supply weapons from U.S. military reserves. Our American colleagues have more information on this matter.

There is a high demand for resources, as using resources from the current supply in the United States would add pressure to both the Pentagon and the defense industry. These entities are already struggling to fulfill new contracts and produce necessary ammunition for Ukraine. The requirements of Israel and Ukraine differ in some important ways. Israel will primarily use precise air-to-ground munitions launched from F-16 and F-35 fighter jets, as well as Apache helicopters, which are not available to Ukraine. However, the need for 155mm artillery shells, which are heavily relied upon by both countries, will likely be a significant issue.

However, the high-ranking official from the U.S. Department of Defense maintained that the U.S. remains certain in its ability to aid both Israel and Ukraine. They pointed out that the department continually evaluates the amount of weapons and ammunition available globally.

The Russian government is currently attempting to connect the two conflicts. According to Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, NATO weapons are being illegally transported from Ukraine. This claim aligns with the tactics used by Moscow, as stated by Ukrainian military intelligence, GUR. In a statement, GUR claimed that the Russian military has already provided Hamas terrorists with weapons captured from the U.S. and EU during the conflict in Ukraine. The next step in Russia’s plan is to falsely accuse the Ukrainian military of regularly selling Western weapons to terrorists.

AGENDA

The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, is organizing a gathering of foreign ministers today to address the current state of affairs in Israel.

The third European Defense and Security Summit is happening today in Brussels. The speakers include Borrell, Thierry Breton (Internal Market Commissioner), Éric Béranger (MBDA CEO), and Pierre-Eric Pommellet (Naval Group CEO).

The French and German governments are currently meeting in Hamburg to discuss matters of defense, specifically the MGCS battle tank and the European Sky Shield Initiative.

ASD’s statement: ASD serves as the spokesperson for the European Aerospace, Security and Defence Industry, representing 4,000+ companies from 19 nations. Our goal is to advance and assist a vital industrial ecosystem that continuously fosters innovation and plays a critical role in Europe’s security. Learn more.

NATO

Finland has vowed to take the lead in this inaugural edition of Morning Defense, with their newest ambassador to NATO at the forefront. During a meeting at her current office in NATO’s older wing designated for non-members, Piritta Asunmaa, the Finnish Ambassador to NATO, emphasized the significance of Helsinki’s dedication to the rest of the alliance.

The complete narrative of Stuart can be found here.

The Deputy Secretary-General of NATO, Mircea Geoană, stated that there is no sign of war weariness among NATO allies when it comes to supporting Ukraine. He also mentioned that Ukraine can anticipate receiving F-16s in the near future. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who is being considered as a potential future NATO secretary-general, echoed Geoană’s sentiments and declared that as long as Ukraine is willing to fight for our freedom, we should make sure that war weariness does not occur within our transatlantic community.

Can F-16s be deployed? During the 96th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Geoană mentioned that NATO has given Ukraine a significant amount of advanced military equipment, including anti-tank weapons, artillery, tanks, missiles, and air defense systems. He also stated that F-16s will be provided in the near future.

The United States has agreed to train Ukrainian pilots on their fighter jets starting in August. The training is estimated to last five months for experienced pilots. However, the US has not yet finalized plans for delivering F-16s to Ukraine. On the other hand, Denmark and the Netherlands have both confirmed their support in providing fighter jets to Kyiv.

PROCUREMENT

The Council has officially approved the implementation of a joint ammunition law on Monday. This law, known as the European Defense Industry Reinforcement Through Common Procurement Act (EDIRPA), aims to increase cooperation among member countries in the procurement of ammunition. A fund of €300 million will be allocated to partially reimburse joint armament purchases involving at least three member countries. This initiative is meant to promote collaboration among defense ministries and to support local contractors in Europe through bulk orders. However, the funding may not go very far.

The initial plan from the European Commission was to designate €500 million for EDIRPA, but the European Parliament proposed increasing it to €1 billion. However, in the final agreement reached in June and officially approved on Monday, only €300 million was allocated. This amount is insignificant compared to larger arms contracts, such as Germany’s recent €1.2 billion agreement with Rheinmetall.

Purchase from nearby sources: The EDIRPA aims to increase purchases from local businesses, requiring at least 65 percent of components in products to come from an EU country or associated state in order to receive partial refunds.

Norway and Saudi Arabia Show Interest in French Frigates: According to Challenges magazine, representatives from Oslo and Riyadh are closely examining Naval Group’s defense and intervention frigates.

LAND WARFARE

Information about the MGCS: This week, French and German officials will discuss various topics such as nuclear energy and defense. The French armed forces ministry has shared information about the Main Ground Combat System, which is the new battle tank being developed by both countries. According to a French official, no additional statements will be made about the joint plan after the meeting.

The Ministry announced that the MGCS will have twice the firing range of the Leclerc tank, reaching up to 8 kilometers. Additionally, it will have the ability to observe targets up to 10 kilometers away. Artificial intelligence will be heavily utilized in intelligence, planning, command, and fire coordination, and the MGCS will have advanced connectivity through combat cloud infrastructures.

The ministry’s announcement verifies the delay mentioned by French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu in late September during his meeting with the German counterpart. The original timeline for the MGCS was 2035-2040, but it has now been pushed back to 2040-2045.

AIR FORCES

Airbus began constructing a new servicing and maintenance facility for the A400M planes at Wunstorf Air Base in Germany. This base is home to the German air force’s A400M military transport aircraft, which were first put into use in 2014. The current fleet of A400M planes in Germany is 35, but it is projected to increase to 53 by 2026, coinciding with the opening of the new Airbus center.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

France has appointed Brigade General Ivan Martin as their defense attaché at the French embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. This decision was made over the weekend and reflects France’s efforts to strengthen the relationship between Ukraine and their defense industry.

NOTABLE AND QUOTABLE

At the Monday evening meeting of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense, Joanneke Balfoort, the European External Action Service’s director of security and defense policy, discussed ways to enhance the EU’s civilian reaction to worldwide crises and conflicts.

She expressed a need for greater specialized knowledge, particularly in areas of hybrid and cyber threats. Additionally, she stated that the objective is to enhance the effectiveness of CSDP missions.

GOING GLOBAL

According to La Tribune, ArianeGroup, the developer of the Ariane 6 rocket system, is requesting an additional annual funding of €350 million from member countries of the European Space Agency for the delayed launch.

I am grateful to Jan Cienski and Zoya Sheftalovich.

An important message from ASD: In a time of increasing tensions around the world, European defense companies play a vital role in maintaining a secure Europe. These companies are trusted partners of our armed forces and provide customized equipment to ensure they can effectively carry out their mission in all environments – whether it be on land, sea, air, outer space, or cyberspace. To ensure that our industry is equipped to handle the changing security landscape, ASD proposes a European defense industrial strategy with the following priorities: 1) Strengthen the industry’s ability to provide necessary equipment to our armed forces at all times and in any situation; 2) Enhance the industry’s capacity for innovation and technological excellence to maintain our armed forces’ advantage over potential adversaries; 3) Minimize reliance on external sources for critical technologies, components, and materials to increase Europe’s autonomy in decision-making and action; and 4) Ensure proper funding through national and European budgets and facilitate access to private financing for necessary investments. For more information, please visit the website.