In this edition that covers the last two weeks, we inform you about the Berlin Security Conference, the Eurodrone project, views on the Zeitenwende and much more.
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Focus: The EDN awarded at the Berlin Security Conference
On November 30th and December 1st took place the Berlin Security Conference. The second international meeting on defence and security after the Munich Security Conference in the Spring is a recurring occasion for international relations, work-related meetings and links between the politics, the armed forces and the industry.
On the political side, Norway was guest of honor and co-host of the conference. Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, and Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway’s Prime Minister, gave a speech before entering into a panel discussion. Mr. Scholz stressed out, like the Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht before him, to what extent Germany was adapting to this “new era” following the war in Ukraine. In the same time, he reinforced the role of the transatlantic relationship and the European Union as the main framework for Security. Security meaning here all the spectrum of threats, from the “resilience of the economy and the society” to “cyber-attacks and disinformation”. The publication of a National Security Strategy for Germany will precise these aspects early 2023.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre highlighted the links between his country and Germany, especially on infrastructure and energy. They announced a cooperation on the protection of maritime infrastructures, after the explosion of the NordStream pipeline a few months ago. This would evolve under the NATO umbrella to allow rapid reaction in case of emergency. Norway has become, after the stoppage of Russian deliveries, the most important gas supplier for Europe.
Alongside this high-visibility panel, many conferences displayed a wide panorama of the specific challenges, threats and cooperation of the Nordic and Arctic countries, with the Finnish, Swedish and Danish Chiefs of Staff’s participation.
Many perspectives and insights on NATO and the European Union were already shared by the speakers, from Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the Alliance, to General Robert Brieger, Chairman of the EU Military Committee. As both organisations published their new strategy documents in 2022, their convergences and cooperation opportunities were underlined.
In addition, as many defence industrial companies were displaying their products and new projects, such as Airbus Defence and Space, MBDA, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, etc., the participation of the industry to the defence awakening in Europe was at the core of many talks.
A small milestone in the Eurodrone program
While the FCAS program is still struggling with going forward, the same participants have achieved an agreement in the development of the MALE-Eurodrone: Since the dual-propulsion insisted on and will come from Germanys’ Airbus Defense and Space, the French company Safran will provide the electro-optic system Euroflir 610. With this step, the Eurodrone comes a bit closer to production and will probably be delivered around 2028. The 11-tons massive drone (more than double than the MQ-9 Reaper) has been in development since 2015.
Military operations and external operations
German patriots in Poland – an end of the argument?
Following the S-300 incident in eastern Poland a few weeks ago, the discussion around German Patriot systems being stationed in Poland continues. After the denial of what was seen by Western Allies as a completely unrealistic Polish demand to send German Patriots to western Ukraine and to protect Polish and Ukrainian airspace alike, the country does finally still agree to station the air defense system in eastern Poland. Before though, Polish defense minister Blaszczak again tweeted about his „disappointment ” that Germany wouldn’t agree to station them in Ukraine. However, one could be equally disappointed that Poland did not hear the German argument that stationing German troops in Ukraine could equal a war declaration for the entirety of NATO and is therefore completely unimaginable. The clear rule of not deploying troops in Ukraine has been followed by NATO since the beginning of the war and there is no reason why anyone should risk breaking it, and needlessly escalating the situation.
With the decision of deployment to eastern Poland taken, it remains to be seen if the anti-air-batteries will come under NATO command (VJTF – Very High Readiness Joint Task Force), as Germany intends or under Polish command, as Poland wishes. This question, along with the exact location of the placement and questions regarding personnel will now be discussed by experts from Poland and Germany respectively.
A reason why Germany could insist on putting the Patriots under NATO command is that the same country will take over command of the VJTF in the beginning of the coming year, which would bring the troops somewhat back into one’s own responsibility.
The global “Zeitenwende”
Has our international order reached a watershed moment? As defined by Olaf Scholz in his publication of December 5th for Foreign Affairs Magazine, the world is entering “an epochal tectonic shift”.
Prefaced by the rise or resurgence of global powers that have reached a point further beyond just regional economic and political influence, German Chancellor Scholz’ article is not precisely warning that the world is “doomed to once again separate into competing blocs”. It rather warns that the international system is transitioning into a multipolar framework that encompasses China as an assertive strategic competitor and Russia’s aggression of Ukraine as precedent that shattered the “international peace architecture that [Europe] had taken decades to build”.
With a swift review of NATO’s history, highlighting the activation of Article 5 after the 9/11 attacks or the heightened security awareness in Europe that succeeded the Balkan Wars, Chancellor Scholz puts the focus on the need for a stronger and cohesive Europe that reflects a mindset better fitted to a “Zeitenwende” moment in international relations.
And, even though he strongly argues for the reinforcement of transatlantic cooperation and increasing military investment to make Europe a state of the art security provider, he does not discard the possibility of revisiting the cooperation networks with Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin-America, to consolidate Europe as beacon of diplomacy. His message for Moscow is that of a very clear determination to “defend every inch of NATO territory”. He argues that Russia’s war on Ukraine has created a ricochet effect: In an attempt to destabilize Europe, the aftermath of the aggression has not only re-unified NATO, the EU and the G-7 nations, but it catalyzed a shift in European economic and energy policies. In the light of the security threat, European leaders have opted to steer away from energetic dependence from Russia and have started investing into “greener” and more autonomous options. A 2030 Agenda goal has now been imbued with a national security tint.
Nevertheless, Olaf Scholz states that the relationship to Beijing should not be defined in an either-or fashion, arguing that even though China can be perceived as a security threat, given its hegemonic pretensions in the Asia-Pacific region, he does not subscribe to the view of forecasting a new Cold war between the North Atlantic states and China. The German Chancellor believes that “China’s rise does not warrant isolating Beijing or curbing cooperation” and regarding the shift towards a multipolar world, he strongly advises Europe to extend dialogue and cooperation beyond the “democratic comfort zone”, engaging with non-democratic countries that do support a rules-based international system in an attempt to “defend and uphold a global order that binds power to rules and that confronts revisionist acts”.
Original articles: 🇬🇧
European Sky Shield initiative
The European Sky-Shield is a German lead initiative that unites 15 European partners to connect air defense installations in different European countries to one coherent system. The idea is to set onto a small number of existing systems (in Germanys’ case that would be the Patriot, Iris-T and Arrow-3) In the future, these 15 European countries should buy air defense systems together to get them at lower cost and connect them up within their system. The controversy is however that two of the most important partners are missing: France and Poland. France for one hand has their own missile system, the SAMP/T, built in cooperation with Italy. Poland on the other side, is already equipped with all sorts of home-built and US-built-equipment, above all however Poland believes strongly in NATO structures, where the “NATO Integrated Air Defense System” already exists. This system incorporates most NATO countries (+ Austria and Switzerland) and works as a network of Radar installations all over the western hemisphere. This network is for example most known for being the one who alerts the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) in case of an air-intrusion. However, what the network does not directly link are the launcher-units that effectively neutralise the threat. Since the initiative is still very early on in the making, it remains to be seen how exactly the concept works out, or if it will remain a loose idea that can’t get coherent because of different industrial interests and political allegiances.