NewsFeed n°54

Published by Elias Ricken on

In this edition that covers the last two weeks, we discuss about the new French national security strategy and new development in the FCAS/SCAF program and the MINUSMA mission. We also discuss the latest events regarding the missile strike on polish soil.
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Focus: French security strategy 2022

On the 07th of November 2022, the French government published its latest “national strategic revue” on security and defence politics. While reading, one aspect shines through the entire paper:
EU sovereignty – one of president Macrons personal projects, that aims at a defence and security standalone-capable EU that does not have to rely on the rest of NATO fulfil military operations. First addressed at the famous Sorbonne speech of the French president in 2018, the importance of a sovereign and strong EU has since the beginning of the war in Ukraine also been more and more considered in other EU countries, such as Germany or Denmark.
The strategic paper is divided into three parts:

An analysis of Frances strategic environment: political development, alliances, conflict, tensions, political possibilities are analysed in this part.
Russia and China are identified as two of the main actors, the latter also having interests in the Indo-Pacific and on the African continent.
The Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine have revealed flaws in the French provision- and security-system, lessons have been learned, says the paper.
Most notable are the mentioning of its area of interest, including the Indo-Pacific region and the Arctic region. France acknowledges NATO as first security provider for Europe, calling the US the “pivotal point” of European security.  Also mentioned however, is the political observation that the US seems to pull back from being a global security provider, which leaves the other countries to their own responsibilities. This is a situation that France does not want to enter unprepared.

– The following part develops Frances national security and defence interests, which has a notable accent on the nuclear deterrence. As the soul EU-country with a nuclear weapons arsenal, France insists that their strategic focus regarding outside threats, is built on nuclear deterrence. Again, European sovereignty is mentioned, this time in coherence with the EUs geopolitical interests.
Under the key point “intervention”, France makes another reference to its area of interest, from the European periphery, and northern Africa, through the Indo-Persian Gulf to the Indo-Pacific, and explains that its armed forces will be providing security and to French interests in these areas.

– Next, the general ambitions for 2030 are vaguely discussed and elaborated into 10 strategic objectives for the presumably the same year. They are the following:
1. A credible and robust nuclear deterrence (from air, sea and land)
2. A united and resilient French Republic (with the objective to maintain the sprit of defence and security politics in the French population and their institutions”
3. An economy in harmony with defence interests (with an accent on supply chains of raw material and high-tech components)
4. A first-class cyber resilience (along with EU partners)
5. The importance of Euro-transatlantic alliance (about the France-EU-NATO triangle)
6. The EUs strategic autonomy (notably right after the chapter about NATO and with a focus on France being on of the leading countries in that aspect)
7. France being a viable and credible security provider (for its area of interest and with EU-partner, plus the UK and the US)
8. Decisional autonomy (in the field of internal, external and military intelligence as well as technical capabilities)
9. The ability to defend itself and to react accordingly in a hybrid conflict scenario (first time mentioning here: the protection of critical infrastructure)
10. The ability to lead military operations in every condition and circumstance (on its own, as well as with partners)

While this document outlined the classical, expectable points for French security policy, it is also an example for Frances long and enduring  lineage in security  policy.
By march 2023 Germany will have also published their first ever national security strategy, that is currently worked on by the ministry of foreign affairs. A comparison will surely be interesting to make.

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International relations

Ukrainian missile hits Polish soil: Recapping last weeks events

On the evening of November 15th, a missile hit polish soil on the far eastern border of the country. It struck the small rural village of Przewodow that is less than 10km from the Ukrainian border, killing two civilians. After inspections were made, the wreckage parts were identified as parts of the soviet-developed and built S-300 missile system. The S-300 was originally built as a ground-to-air missile, that would fend of aircraft and ballistic missiles. However, the missile can also serve as a ground-to-ground missile, which requires a possibility to switch off the self-destruction mode, that would normally engage when the missile misses its target in the ground-to-air mode after a certain time of flight. Produced in the Soviet Union, both countries, Ukraine and Russia currently use this type of missile on the battlefield. After multiple assumption of what had exactly happened at Przewodow and most importantly: Had the miss been a Ukrainian or Russian S-300. After a first talk of a “Russian built” missile, the indications, such as a precise analysis of the wreckage and a reconstruction of the missile’s flightpath, spoke for a Ukrainian ground-to-air-used missile, that had come of course. After missing its target, the missiles self-destruct mechanism would have malfunctioned and the missiles would have flown until hitting the ground, crossing the borderlines, into Polish territory. The White House, Poland and other leading intelligence providers around that incident have confirmed this assumption around November 17th. Even though the missile was most presumably Ukrainian, Poland did not blame the country for the missile hit, but rather accused Russia of having started this war in the first place. While this was the first time a weapon fired in that war hit a neutral country, Russian missiles had already often struck targets such as power lines near the Ukrainian-polish border, therefore risking to hit into Poland, explaining the very first assumption that has had been made on the evening of the 15th. The two civilians that tragically and innocently died in the incident were buried with military honours on November 22nd.

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External operations and military cooperations

Mali Update: Germany will leave MINUSMA until may 2024

After contributing since 2013 and lately with a strength of 1.100 troops, Germany will leave the UN mission MINUSMA at latest in May 2024. This was discussed between the German chancellor, the foreign minister, the defence minister and the development minister on the 22.11. After monthlong problems with obtaining formal approvements from the Malian government and their cooperation with the Russian mercenary force Wagner, this decision, does not come surprisingly. The reason Germany leave will take so long to have left the country, is to assure a coordinated procedure until the entire contingent with will have left in its entirety. Until that day, the German parliament will have to revote for the German contingent to stay for one final year, in May 2023, however, this does not represent a risk. It remains to be seen if the MINUSMA-mission will remain active after the Germans retreat: Afterall, they are supplying the largest troop contingent and after the French, Swedes, and lastly British forces announces their leave as well, this latest announcement could very well mean the end of the mission.

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FCAS/SCAF: Defence program looking for an industrial agreement

Has the FCAS program finally reached an industrial agreement between Dassault Aviation and Airbus Defense & Space? That’s what the German Ministry of Defense, Christine Lambrecht, and the French presidency announced on November 18th. Ms Lambrecht told on Twitter that a “political agreement” had been reached after “intense industrial negotiations”. The Elysée reacted later in the same tone, adding that France remains the leader of the project. Later on, Airbus stated that the contract was only pending “formal steps” from the partnering countries. 

This was seen as a major step for a project stuck in industrial obstacles since 2021 and the end of the 1A phase. The main struggles resides in the workshare and intellectual property: on one side, France and Dassault are the leading country for the aircraft and consider they should be leader of the majority of the tasks for efficiency purposes. On the other side, Airbus is asking for a role worth its competences and experience, despite leading already the global FCAS system and despite Germany already leading the MGCS, the FCAS counterpart for ground systems. 

However, as French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met in Berlin on November 25th and reaffirmed this step forward, Dassault denied it. Eric Trappier, Dassault’s CEO, underlined 4 days before on November 21th that “nothing had been signed” between Airbus and his company. 

Not facilitating the conclusion of this struggle, the French Senate also proposed to amend the currently debated budget law with 10M€ to “establish the feasibility of a new generation fighter financed by France without any cooperation”. This can be seen as an answer to the Bundestag’s resolution that the German government “take better consideration of the industry’s interests” in the program.  Despite political will and announcements, the 1.2b€ 1B phase of the FCAS is not closer to take-off yet.

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European policies

Will German Patriots deploy to Poland against future air threats?

The fall of rocket parts Przewodów (Poland) on the 15th of November 2022 caused the death of two Polish citizens in the eastern part of Poland near the Polish-Ukrainian border. The debris came from most probable from a Ukrainian missile which was shot to defend against a Russian missile attack. On the 21st November 2022, German defence minister Christine Lambrecht expressed its support for Poland and offered the Polish MoD the stationing of German Patriot batteries in the Eastern part of Poland. On Twitter, the Polish MoD welcomed the stationing and suggested to deploy the batteries next to the Ukrainian border. On the 23rd November 2022, the Polish minister of defence, Mariusz Błaszczak, proposed via Twitter that these batteries should be stationed in the Western part of Ukraine. Delicately, this would imply the stationing of material of the NATO’s Integrated Air Defence in a third country and, on top of this, the stationing  of German soldiers on the Ukrainian territory in order to operate the system properly on such a short notice. The delivery of German Patriot batteries to Ukraine was suggested by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the PiS party  leader on the 24th of November 2022. Although this would be theoretically possible, it would not only require Germany to give up some of its much needed Patriot batteries, but also to cross a clear line set by NATO, to not station NATO-troops in Ukraine. On the other side stands a thorough and time consuming training of the Ukrainian soldiers on the Patriot system.

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