As Finland and Sweden are about to join NATO, Switzerland draws closer to the military pact, buys expensive F-35 fighter jets and seeks new forms of cooperation.
BERN/BRUSSELS (Own report) – As Finland and Sweden are about to join NATO, Switzerland is preparing to draw closer to the western military pact. Switzerland is seeking “new forms of cooperation” with NATO, Defense Minister Viola Amherd declared. This would be possible despite the country’s official neutrality. Concrete proposals for expanding the cooperation will be submitted in September. Notwithstanding its neutrality, Switzerland has been cooperating with NATO since the 1950s, mainly informally, at first, and formally only after joining the Western alliance’s Partnership for Peace program in 1996. “Common tactics, techniques and procedures for missions” have long been established, as was noted on the occasion of the participation of a Swiss fighter squadron in a current air force exercise of NATO member countries. The purchase of F-35 fighter jets, decided by Bern in the summer 2021 – which is being met with protests – also serves to draw the country closer to NATO. The Ukraine war facilitates legitimizing the rapprochement to NATO. Read more
There is a reflex in Europe that is detrimental to China. It is the downside of the respectful awe at China's vastness, its size, its culture, and statehood. By comparison, Europe appears tiny. The comparison mitigates the error of being incomparable. China is greater.
NATO membership for Finland and Sweden galvanizes the militarization of the Arctic – also regarding Russia’s Northern Fleet, which ensures that country’s nuclear second-strike capability.
HELSINKI/STOCKHOLM/MOSCOW (Own report) – The imminent NATO membership for Finland and Sweden galvanizes the militarization of the Arctic, with participation of the German Bundeswehr. This is becoming evident by NATO maneuvers in Europe’s High North, which, for years, have regularly been conducted relatively close to Russia’s Northern Fleet bases on the Kola Peninsula. These bases host particularly submarines equipped with ballistic missiles, largely ensuring Russian naval forces’ nuclear second-strike capability. Moscow protects them with a military bastion concept designed to prevent hostile forces any access to the region. By admitting Finland and Sweden, NATO is also reinforcing its strategic position in the proximity of the Kola Peninsula. Russia is reacting with new armament measures. Helsinki and Stockholm plan to present their applications for NATO membership with their respective parliaments votes of approval, expected today, Monday, or tomorrow following this weekend’s final set of decisions. Read more
The training of Ukrainian troops has begun in Rhineland-Palatinate. That German state is considered the hub for US wars in the Middle East and for NATO operations targeting Russia.
RAMSTEIN/IDAR-OBERSTEIN (Own report) – The training of Ukrainian soldiers on the Self-Propelled Howitzer-2000 has begun in Germany. As was reported, the first Ukrainian soldiers already arrived in Germany on Tuesday. Yesterday, they began their training program at the Bundeswehr’s artillery school in Idar-Oberstein (Rhineland-Palatinate). Since some time, that German state has developed into the hub for military support for Ukraine – with deliveries of combat equipment to Poland via the US airbase Ramstein. NATO’s Air Allied Command, which directs alliance aerial operations in eastern and southeastern Europe, is also headquartered at the airbase. These operations include air patrol missions of also German combat jets in the Baltics and at the Black Sea. According to the Minister of the Interior of Rhineland-Palatinate, Roger Lewintz (SPD), that state, which shelters also various other US bases, will receive an “enormous boost in significance,” as the hub, no longer for US wars in the Arab world, but for NATO’s operations against Russia. Read more
Berlin reorganizes the Bundeswehr’s assignment in the Sahel and prepares partial troop redeployment to Niger. Local protests against foreign miliary operations are increasing.
NIAMEY/PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) – The German Bundeswehr is preparing a partial troop withdrawal from Mali and a possible redeployment to Niger. Prior to today’s parliamentary debate on the continuation of the Sahel mission, it was reported that the German armed forces will terminate their European Union Training Mission (EUTM) participation in Mali. However, at the same time, there are plans to increase the German contingent in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) from 1,100 to 1,400 soldiers. The German government is also considering new measures in neighboring Niger. For years, Germany had supported Niger’s repressive and armed forces – initially to ward off refugees and now also to train Niger’s special forces. The Bundeswehr could possibly consolidate its activities in the framework of a “training mission Sahel,” according to German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. Whereas Mali and, increasingly also Burkina Faso, turn their backs on the West and lean toward Russia, Niger is considered the last pro-western stronghold within the actual Sahel war zone. But protests are also increasing there. Read more
Germany runs the risk of formally becoming a party to the war by training Ukrainian soldiers. British military warn that Russian attacks on NATO airfields could be seen as “legitimate.”
BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) – Germany will supply howitzers to Ukraine, instruct Ukrainian soldiers in their use and thus become a party to the war in Ukraine, not only de facto, but also de jure. This was the conclusion pronounced in reports on the supply of seven Bundeswehr self-propelled howitzer-2000s and an expertise by the Reference and Research Service of the German Bundestag. According to the expertise, Germany would leave the secure realm of non-belligerence,” as soon as it not only delivers arms, but also instructs soldiers in their use. If Germany becomes a party to the war under international law, Russian attacks on German targets are possible. Such apprehensions have already been discussed in Great Britain. According to officials, under certain circumstances, airfields from which arms transports are leaving to Ukraine could become legitimate targets for Russian counterattacks. In addition, the possibility of deploying their own troops to Ukraine is already in discussion in the United States. Since some time, political experts have been trying to dispel fears of a world war. Read more
The prospect of an imminent suspension of Russian deliveries to the EU is growing. Industry representatives draw up contingency plans and demand that private consumption be first reduced.
MOSCOW/BERLIN (Own report) – The prospect of an imminent suspension of EU gas imports from Russia has significantly grown prior to today's EU energy ministers’ meeting, because of Brussels' announcement that it will not accept the latest payment proposal. It stipulates that payment of supplied gas will only be considered as concluded, once the euros paid for the price of the purchase have been exchanged into rubles. This should ensure that Russia is not left holding euro or US dollar deposits that it cannot use due to the sanctions. The EU refuses to accept this because the Russian Central Bank – itself under EU sanctions – would be involved in the exchange process. According to a new study, Germany would have to reduce gas consumption by one-fifth, if Russian supplies were suspended – even under favorable conditions. In addition, Germany's gas traders are obliged to pay billions for years even if they do not accept the gas. Industry representatives demand that reductions not first be made by the industry but by private consumers. Read more
Chancellor Olaf Scholz visits Japan, seeks to expand the economic and military cooperation. In September, German Air Force participates in military exercises in Asian-Pacific realm.
TOKYO/BERLIN (Own report) – The German Bundeswehr will send fighter planes to combat exercises in the Asian-Pacific realm. This was confirmed by the Air Force on the occasion of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ visit to Japan. According to the statement, six German Eurofighters will be dispatched to Australia to participate in a maneuver and from there make a short visit in Japan. Scholz’ visit serves the purpose of expanding German-Japanese cooperation, in view of the intensification of the West’s power struggle with China. On the one hand, the German government seeks to expand German-Japanese business relations, to relativize the significance of the People's Republic of China for German industry, given the fact that Japan is considered an integral part of the western alliance and “conflict-proof” – unlike the case of China, western sanctions against Japan are out of the question. On the other hand, Berlin is seeking closer cooperation in foreign and military policy. For this purpose, in November 2021, the German frigate Bayern made a stopover in Yokohama at the entrance of Tokyo Bay. Germany’s military presence in Japan is beginning to normalize. Read more
Finland and Sweden’s applications to join NATO are reportedly imminent. Russia is reacting to this new strategic imbalance with its own arms buildup.
BERLIN/HELSINKI/STOCKHOLM (Own report) – Finland and Sweden are expected to jointly apply for NATO membership in mid-May, according to reports published yesterday in both countries. Thus, both Helsinki and Stockholm are definitively giving up what is left of their formal neutrality. The Finnish-Swedish rapprochement to NATO – including their participation in NATO wars – had already begun back in the 1990s. Both countries have been so closely linked to the alliance that experts recently remarked that their joining NATO is almost nothing more than a “matter of formalization.” This “formalization” will now take place. It will create a new strategic imbalance in northeastern Europe. Sweden’s island, Gotland, which will soon become part of NATO, can control the sea routes, for example, to St. Petersburg and to Kaliningrad. The approximately 1,340 km long Finnish-Russian border will become NATO’s external border. Moscow has announced it will counter this with arms buildup measures in the High North and possibly deploying nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad. Read more