NewsFeed N°49

Published by Elias Ricken on

In this edition that covers the last two weeks, we present you a quick summary of the month of August in the war in Ukraine. You can also read about the possibility to utilize the Airbus A400M as a firefighting aircraft, a recent investment for the Danish Navy and much more.
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Focus: 6 months of war. A summary of August 2022 in Ukraine

These past six months have led Europe back to a war of such destruction, consternation and obliteration, that hadn´t been since the end of Second World War, 77 years ago. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has changed the way we in Europe think security and defence policies.
Since the 24th of February, the day of the Russian attack, and for a long coming time in the future, the war in Ukraine will remain the most important subject in security and defence, analysis and application.
Since our NewsFeed represents the regular record-taking and analysis, this editions Focus will try to provide a summary for the month of August 2022. We decided to do a short presentation for these 4 main points:

– a basic overview of the frontline development
– the explosions of Crimea
– the Copenhagen conference on support for Ukraine
– the successful grain export
– 24th of August: Ukrainian National day

Regarding the development of the frontline, the month of August showed mostly one thing: This war will not end soon, but will go on for at least another half a year. Quite possibly longer.
Combat is very intense in the south around the region of Zaporizhzhia, where the Ukrainian military has shot up multiple key bridge to hinder Russian troop movements and supply chains. In the east, Russia has conquered the greatest part of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, but is now forced to transfer troops to the southern region, where Ukraine might be preparing a counter offensive. New western weapon deliveries for Ukraine are being announced regularly, mostly by the US, however

Further south than Zaporizhzhia, on the peninsula of Crimea, two explosions rendered a Russian airfield and munitions depot useless on the 9th and 18th of August. In the process, a wiring station has been put out of action. If and who exactly set these explosions is by now unclear: Both Russia and Ukraine are in accord that it was not a Ukrainian attack. However, in the context of the war and regarding what kind of facilities have been damaged, it is hard to believe in a coincidence. Since the 18th, the Russian government affirms that sabotage is behind the explosions. Since 2014, the peninsula of Crimea is under Russian occupation and is regarded as state-territory by both Russia and Ukraine alike. If Ukraine were to attack the region with its forces, it could be construed and laid-out by Russia as an attack on Russian soil.

After a long naval blockade across the Sea of Azov by the Russian Navy, civilian merchant ships are finally able to leave the port of Odessa and bring their grain shipment out of the warzone, since the 10th of August. This is not only a small victory for those, who follow the principles of the Geneva convention, but also a chance for Ukraine profit from this constant source of money, that is the grain export. In wartime, state-economies are always under enormous pressure, therefore this might be an even more important chance for the country, than first anticipated.

On the 11th of August, more than 20 western state-representatives gathered in Copenhagen to discuss long-term support for Ukraine in the war effort. Ongoing support via weapons-deliveries, the training of Ukrainian soldiers on western weapon systems and bomb disposal for example were addressed as well as further financial help for the country in the form of 1.5 Billion €.

On the date precisely six months after the Russian attack, Ukraine has able to celebrate their National day on the 24th of August. The date marks the independence from the Soviet Union. Although expecting harsher Russian attacks than normally, a memorable symbol of resistance was set on in Kiev, showing a convoy of destroyed Russian vehicles. The idea behind being, that Russia expected to roll by now on the same streets with functioning equipment half a year prior.

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An additional capacity for the A400M: aerial firefighting

The A400M is a multi-role military transport aircraft developed by a Airbus-led consortium and the OCCAR for many European countries. Its clients include France, Germany, Spain or Belgium. It covers various transport missions, such as transport of material (NH90, trucks, …), of troops, parachuting soldiers, by being able to carry 37 tons of payload over 4500kms.

Due to its capacities, it is also exploited in crisis to provide supplies on distant locations. And recent experimentations by Airbus will firefighting as another civil utility. Indeed, the company has developed a kit that can be supplied in 5 minutes with 20 tons of water, 3 times the classical firefighting aircraft capacity, and release them in 10 seconds. In addition, the kit is roll-on/roll-off, meaning it can be installed without any structural modification.

After the high temperatures and violent fires faced by European countries this summer, this has raised a lot of interest as additional firefighting capacities will be needed in the future.

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International relations

Estonia hit by the second most extensive cyberattack in its history after removing a WWII memorial

The Estonian government has informed that the country has faced on august 17th the most extensive cyberattack since 2007, where a major strike paralysed many state, banks and institutions websites for many weeks. Back then, the attack was following the withdrawal of a Soviet area monument celebrating the World War II. This time, this is following the beginning of another larger-scale withdrawal of Soviet area monuments.

Since the 2007 attack, the country has developed one of the most efficient cyberdefence environment and capacities despite its small population (1.3 million people). Therefore, the attack by DoS (Denial of Service) remained largely unnoticed on Estonian services. The government refused to give information about the origin of the attack.

Its experience makes Estonia a major pillar of NATO and EU cyber defence structures and activities. The CCDCOE (NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence) is based in Estonia and the country participates to many cyber-oriented European projects

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Russian support in Mali – a shift from peacekeeping to actual warfare

After the French military, alongside with the EUTM Mali personnel, retreated from Mali over the past months, Russia has been increasingly supporting the Malian Military-Government, in the rhythm of the European departure. Thereby, they effectively replace positions that European personal had before, such as advisors and instructors. A great difference is that Russian mercenaries of the Wagner-Group also go into combat along with the Malian army: something European forces did not do. Along with this enhanced support in personnel, Russia also gives material support to Mali: Latest news from mid-August confirm that a number of helicopters and aircraft were sent over from Russia to Mali. Although it is not clear who will fly these aircraft in the for the immediate time, it is almost guaranteed that Russia is now also training Malian pilots. A pilot training-program led by European instructors was cancelled mid-May this year due to political reasons, but the Malian government always valued getting their own trained pilots very highly.
With the additional very drastic restriction to UN-peacekeeping troops, one can clearly see the direction in which the Malian military-government is trending to politically.

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European policies

Rotation of the Baltic Air Policing in Estonia: Germany replaces France

France was participating to the NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission since March 15th in Estonia, to ensure the Air police mission on behalf of the host country.

During these few months, however, the activity has been less than expected, and quite similar to the other deployments in 2016, 2018 and 2020, with around 20 “A-scramble”, interceptions missions. They are triggered when an unauthorised and unidentified aircraft is detected in or close to a country’s airspace. The current war in Ukraine may have indeed diverted some of the regular Russian military aircraft activity from the neighbouring countries. It was however the occasion for a more extensive with allied countries in NATO who have had recently a stronger presence there.

From beginning of August, the 4 French Dassault Mirage-5 have been replaced by 5 German Eurofighter based in Ämari, Estonia, for the 13th Bundeswehr mission there. The new German detachment has been welcomed with an Russian aircraft identification only 2 days after having taken the charge.

A shift in the Bundeswehr communication about the BAP activities has been pointed out by some experts, with images of fighter aircrafts and weapon loading have been published, marking the transition from a peacetime mission to a closer to wartime mission.

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External operations and Military cooperation

Denmark launches an investment program for their Navy

The Danish Armed Forces have decided on an investment program that stretches over 5 Billion € for its Navy. Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov, announced the program as a reaction the ever-worsening security situation on the European continent. Concretely, they have reported two violations of national waters in the last days by a Russian corvette. For the European defence, Denmark’s navy program comes very handy, because it first reassures the Danish will to participate more in a European defence. For NATO, Denmark has much strategic importance with its location in the Baltic sea. With the upcoming join of Finland and Sweden to the alliance, the entire Baltic (and northern) sea, would be covered. Denmark plays an important role here.

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