Friday, October 30, 2009

As a continuation and a reaction to the "NATO and Russia War games", I found an article which reveals another side of the Russian military reform and military exercises. A much less functioning build-up seems to appear.

Medvedev Chastises the Russian Defense Industry
Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 199
October 29, 2009

Medvedev has announced plans to re-equip the armed forces with new weapons by 2012, but it does not seem to be happening. The Russian defense industry is in deep crisis and it is good that the president has publicly acknowledged the facts. But simply scolding an industry in which the government itself has a controlling stake will not result in change. The Russian defense industry has been able to continue to produce Soviet-era weapons using equipment, know-how and stockpiles of components left over from the Cold War. In some cases, modernized weapons like the Su-30 jet sold to India and other foreign buyers have been produced using Western avionics and other components. But the defense industry has utterly failed to produce weapons the Soviet inventory did not have – like modern intelligence-gathering drones. Another embarrassing public frustration is the Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile that has failed test after test. Sloppy workplace discipline, the growing lack of a qualified workforce, shortages of modern materials and components is plaguing the defense industry.

The defense ministry has recently promoted the idea of procuring Western-made weapons. Russia has procured Israeli drones and is discussing with France the possible purchase of a Mistral-class helicopter-and-troop-carrying warship (RIA Novosti, October 1). Russia, of course, wants foremost not off the shelf weapons, but the transfer of technology. In the past communist Russia did manage to buy Western technologies to modernize its military and use them against the West. In 1946 Moscow obtained British jet engines and with them built a vast fleet of MiG fighters that harassed the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War in 1950-1953.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NATO Ministers agree on key priorities for Afghanistan in Bratislava

Dear colleagues,

it´s one week from Informal NATO Defense Ministers Meeting in Bratislava, but topics of the conference are still very vivid and being discussed.

I am personally very eager on how "Strategic Concept for Transition to Afghan lead" will work and what will bve the practical results of it. To see more about the outcomes of the NATO conference in Bratislava, please see


NATO and Russia War games

Jitters in eastern Europe over Russia’s military manoeuvres

SCAREMONGERING is where defence-planning and politics overlap. Big military exercises in western Russia and Belarus, which finished earlier this month, were based on the following improbable scenario: ethnic Poles in western Belarus rise up and “terrorists” from Lithuania attack the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. More than 10,000 troops from Russia and Belarus countered them, reinforcing Kaliningrad from the sea and sending special forces behind the enemy lines. Three NATO–like brigades, one visiting, one Estonian and one Latvian, then invaded western Russia, where they were successfully rebuffed by the elite Pskov-based 76th air assault division, reinforced by a motorised rifle brigade.

Military exercises need a notional enemy and, from Russia’s point of view, NATO is the obvious choice. Because the alliance has expanded to Russia’s borders, taking in a dozen ex-communist members over strenuous protests from the Kremlin, it is all the more desirable to send a strong signal. What is more, Western countries have been urging (and helping) Russia’s military forces to become more professional. That requires practice drills.

The main aim of the Russian exercises may indeed have been to measure progress on military reform, particularly the creation of more Western-style autonomous brigades. And, plainly, Russia is neither willing nor able to fight a real war with NATO. Yet the war-games look alarming to neighbours. They recall that the war in Georgia in August 2008 followed many years of exercises, and they point out that NATO has no formal contingency plans to defend its vulnerable Baltic members. Nor has the alliance held land drills on the territory of any of its new members. Indeed, until two years ago NATO’s threat assessments explicitly discounted the idea of conflict with Russia.

Russia faces many security problems within its borders, and its armed forces are still rusty. It is hard to see why preparing for an implausible armed attack from the West should be a priority; these days America and its allies have little time to rehearse big-war manoeuvres because their soldiers are too busy fighting, or training to fight, insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Similarly, the idea of Lithuanian-based “terrorists” invading Russia is risible.

Western military analysts have noted Russia’s use of destroyers and landing craft from the Black Sea and Northern Fleets to back up its feeble Baltic-based naval forces. They also noted the deployment of Russia’s most advanced S-400 air defence system in Belarus and a parallel drill conducted by the Strategic Rocket Forces, the guardians of the Kremlin’s nuclear arsenal. “The scope of the exercises, the weaponry used, the troops involved and the scenarios rehearsed all indicate unequivocally that Russia is actually rehearsing a full-scale conventional strategic military operation against a conventional opponent,” says a report by Kaarel Kaas, an analyst at an Estonian security think-tank, the International Centre for Defence Studies.

Dividing the exercise into a northern war-game (called Ladoga) and a southern one (Zapad-09) brought each below the 13,000-troop threshold at which Russia is obliged to invite outside observers. Some neighbouring countries were not able to monitor the manoeuvres (Lithuania, with a handful of observers in Belarus, was an exception). That does not build confidence.

From what outsiders can gather, the performance of Russian forces was patchy. A joint Belarusian-Russian headquarters worked poorly. Drones—a big feature of Western armies—seem to have been used mainly for show. Moving large numbers of troops and equipment around, a weakness during Russia’s war in Georgia, took too long.

Polish, Baltic and other officials will meet in Warsaw shortly to discuss the significance of the exercises. NATO will assess them next month. America certainly took careful notes: the USS Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, visited Estonia. NATO warplanes mounted a modest air exercise. A planned exercise in the Baltic states next year is likely to be beefed up, perhaps with the involvement of part of NATO’s new mobile Response Force.

Russia’s armed forces may be ramshackle, but many European members of NATO are in poor shape too. The alliance’s ability to defend the Baltic states depends almost wholly on American involvement. NATO hawks complain that members such as Germany and Italy are blocking attempts to draw up formal contingency plans for all its members—something that President Barack Obama has demanded. The doves retort that NATO’s Article 5, which says that an attack on one member is an attack on the whole alliance, is deterrent enough; new members who question its worth are hurting their own cause.

Yet easterners are raising their voices in talks about NATO’s new “strategic concept”, a document to define its purpose that will be adopted next year. With NATO focused mostly on the fighting in Afghanistan, they want a clear statement that old-fashioned collective defence of NATO territory is still a priority. Only that, they say, will convince their voters that, with Russia flexing its muscles nearby, sending troops to Afghanistan is worth it.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Hello everybody,

Here's an interesting report made by the NATO Defence College. The report goes through the questions concerning the new strategic concept of NATO.

All the best,
Dear fellows,

those who attended YATA General Assembly know that for year 2009/ 2010, Karl Raimut Popper, well- known Austrian philosopher, was agreed to be the rightest person embodying values of transatlanticism. Karl Popper´s masterpieces and his own life personificates values of liberal democracy in freedom in tbe broadest sense. His message is worth recalling again nowadays, on 60th anniversary of NATO, when it´s obvious that we still encounter enemies of "open society" out there, in the form of rough states, state terrorism or various unfree societies.

Let´s spent some time and dedicate it to Karl Popper! His message is not only up-to-date, but everlasting as well. To find more about Mr. Popper, please visit For you who study political science and, of course, know the most famous book by Karl Poper "The Open Society and Its Enemies", I encourage you to discuss it months to come and challenge yourself if you could find some interconnection between the theory of Mr. Popper and practice of international security today. You´re more than welcome to share with your opinions and reflexions here below.



Friday, October 23, 2009

New Coalition - New German Foreign Policy Goals

At Reuters I have came across a fresh excerpt of the new German foreign policy guidelines. German coalition negotiations between Merkel`s conservatives and the Free Democrats resulted in a foreign policy agreement as part of a wider coalition negotiation process. As a stronghold of the Euro-Atlantic alliance and the engine of Europe`s economy, Germany`s new foreign policy goals containing vital issues as NATO, Afghanistan and Russia is of key imporatnce.

Foreign policy section of German coalition draft

10.21.09, 03:02 PM EDT

BERLIN, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Below are excerpts from the foreign policy section of a draft coalition agreement that is expected to be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Free Democrats (FDP) later this week.
Unless otherwise stated, this language has been agreed by working groups which include members from all the coalition parties and is therefore unlikely to be altered in the final policy programme.

'Germany has a special interest in deepening its relations with Turkey and linking the country to the European Union. The EU membership talks that began in 2005 are an open-ended process that is not based on automatism and has no guaranteed end-result.
'If the EU is not in a position to take on new members or Turkey cannot fully meet all the criteria necessary for membership, Turkey must be bound closely to European structures in a way that allows its privileged relationship with the EU to develop further.'

'We will support Russia in its efforts to move ahead decisively with a modernisation of the country and thereby remove deficits in human rights, the rule of law and democracy.'
'The valid interests of our neighbours will be taken into account in shaping our bilateral relations with Russia.'

'We understand our engagement in Afghanistan as being of special national interest ... The government will continue to make a contribution to this task that is in line with its importance.'
'In cooperation with our partners, we will hand over responsibility step by step to the authorities of the country.'

'We will continue to work, together with our partners in the E3+3 group, to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. In this process we favour diplomacy, but are also ready, in consultation with our partners, to pursue tougher sanctions if necessary.'

'The coalition is fully committed to the contract for the A400M military project. The strategic air transport will be secured. As for the outstanding Eurofighters, the coalition parties have agreed that future exports can count towards the number of planes that still have to be ordered in tranche 3B.'
(In brackets, indicating this has not been agreed by Merkel's conservatives, the FDP have written in: 'The government demands an immediate and amicable end to the MEADS defence project')

'We want the structures of this world organisation to mirror the reality of today. Against this backdrop, we remain ready to take on greater international responsibility with a permanent seat on the Security Council. Nevertheless, we continue to seek a common European permanent seat in the Security Council in the context of a broader reform and in line with the Lisbon treaty.'

'... we will strive within (NATO) and with our American allies for a withdrawal of the last U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany.'

(Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Noah Barkin; editing by David Stamp) Keywords: GERMANY COALITION/FOREIGN
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