NATO steps up Baltic Sea patrols after subsea infrastructure damage

NATO and Allies are stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea following recent damage to undersea infrastructure in the region. The increased measures include additional surveillance and reconnaissance flights, including with maritime patrol aircraft, NATO AWACS planes, and drones. A fleet of four NATO minehunters is also being dispatched to the area. „We continue to monitor the situation closely, and we remain in close contact with our Allies Estonia and Finland, and our partner Sweden,” said acting NATO spokesperson Dylan White. “NATO will continue to adapt its maritime posture in the Baltic Sea and will take all necessary steps to keep Allies safe.”  Since the Nord Stream sabotage in September 2022, NATO has enhanced patrols near critical undersea infrastructure and has promoted technological innovation – including with drones – to better detect any suspicious activity.  Earlier this year, NATO created an undersea infrastructure coordination cell to deepen ties between governments, military, industry actors and NATO, and has since established the NATO Maritime Centre for the Security of Critical Undersea Infrastructure within NATO’s Maritime Command.  

NATO Secretary General stresses enduring support for Ukraine in call with President Biden, transatlantic leaders

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined NATO’s enduring support for Ukraine in a call with transatlantic leaders on Tuesday (3 October 2023). “As Russia continues its brutal war we are all committed to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Stoltenberg said. The call was hosted by US President Joe Biden, bringing together G7 leaders with NATO and European Union leadership, as well as Poland and Romania as co-chairs of the Bucharest Nine (B9) group. Stoltenberg stressed the importance of continued support to Ukraine as the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace. He welcomed that Allies are sharing the burden equitably, with around half of the military support pledged for Ukraine coming from the US, and the other half from European Allies and Canada. He also highlighted the steps taken at the Vilnius Summit to bring Ukraine closer to the Alliance than ever before – including the removal of the requirement for a Membership Action Plan, the establishment of the NATO-Ukraine Council, and a major package to achieve full interoperability of the Ukrainian forces with NATO.  The Secretary General visited Kyiv on 28 September, expressing NATO’s strong support in meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government. The following day, Stoltenberg delivered a video address to the first meeting of the International Defence Industry Forum in Kyiv, stressing that “Ukraine needs capabilities: high quality, high quantity, and quickly.”  

NATO deploys AWACS surveillance jets to Lithuania

NATO will temporarily deploy Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance planes to Šiauliai, Lithuania. The first of two aircraft will arrive on Thursday (28 September 2023) and will fly missions to monitor Russian military activity near the Alliance’s borders. “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has increased our focus on the security environment in the Baltic Sea region,” said acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White. “Our AWACS can detect aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometres away, making them a key early warning capability for NATO. I thank Lithuania for hosting the aircraft. This is an important contribution to our shared security.” In response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, NATO has boosted its air presence in the eastern part of the Alliance using fighter jets, surveillance planes and tankers. In the wake of Russian drone strikes near NATO territory, the United States last week deployed four additional F-16 fighter aircraft to Romania to enhance NATO’s air policing mission. Since February 2022, NATO AWACS have conducted hundreds of flights over Eastern Europe to monitor Russian warplanes. The AWACS will start their reconnaissance flights over Alliance territory in the coming days. The mission is scheduled to last several weeks. The aircraft belong to a fleet of 14 NATO-owned surveillance aircraft based in Geilenkirchen, Germany. Around 150 military personnel will deploy to Šiauliai in support of the aircraft.  

NATO Secretary General calls for creation of a transatlantic quantum community, welcomes Denmark’s leadership

In a visit to Copenhagen on Friday (29 September 2023), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for the development of a transatlantic quantum community, harnessing the power of this critical technology for our security. In a joint statement with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, the two leaders underscored the importance of closer collaboration among public, private and academic sectors, and the acceleration of responsible innovation. Speaking alongside Prime Minister Frederiksen at the Copenhagen Quantum Conference 2023, Mr Stoltenberg said: "NATO has always adapted to and adopted new technologies to keep our people safe”. He added: “with the rapid spread of disruptive technologies, we must adapt further and faster than ever before, including in the field of quantum…. We need to make sure these technologies work for us – not against us.” He further praised Denmark for being “a driving force behind NATO’s innovation agenda, and a leader in the field on quantum technologies in Europe. The Secretary General confirmed that NATO will have developed a quantum strategy by the end of this year, to ensure the Alliance is “quantum-ready” and “able to integrate the right technologies into our capabilities and protect against adversarial use.” Later in the day, the Secretary General opened the new NATO accelerator site “Deep Tech Lab – Quantum” together with the Danish Minister of Defence, Troels Lund Poulsen; the Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Morten Bødskov; and the Minister of Higher Education and Science, Christina Egelund. The Lab will help start-ups from across the Alliance commercialise quantum-enabled solutions, as part of NATO’s new Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA). DIANA consists of a network of test centers and accelerator sites across NATO countries, where innovators develop new technologies to solve pressing security challenges. The Deep Tech Lab – Quantum in Copenhagen is one of five pilot accelerator sites launched in 2023.  

Wagner chief Prigozhin listed as passenger on plane that crashed with no survivors, Russian authorities say

(Reuters) Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on a private jet which crashed on Wednesday evening north of Moscow with no survivors, the Russian authorities said. There was no confirmation that Prigozhin was physically on board and Reuters could not immediately confirm that he was on the aircraft, which crashed north of Moscow. "An investigation has been launched into an Embraer plane crash that occurred tonight in the Tver region. According to the passenger list, the name and surname of Yevgeny Prigozhin is among them," Rosaviatsia, Russia's aviation agency, was cited as saying by the state TASS news agency. Russia's emergency situations ministry said in a statement that a private Embraer Legacy aircraft travelling from Moscow to St. Petersburg had crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver Region. It said that 10 people had been on board, including three crew members. According to preliminary information, everyone on board had been killed, it said. Prigozhin, 62, spearheaded a mutiny against Russia's top army brass on June 23-24 which President Vladimir Putin said could have tipped Russia into civil war. The mutiny was ended by negotiations and an apparent Kremlin deal which saw Prigozhin agree to relocate to neighbouring Belarus. But he had appeared to move freely inside Russia after the deal nonetheless. Prigozhin, who had sought to topple Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, on Monday posted a video address which he suggested was shot in Africa.  

NATO-Ukraine Council addresses serious security situation in the Black Sea

The NATO-Ukraine Council met on Wednesday (26 July 2023) to address the serious security situation in the Black Sea region following Russia’s unilateral termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg convened the meeting following a request for crisis consultation from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană chaired the Council. Allies and Ukraine strongly condemned Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal and its deliberate attempts to stop Ukraine’s agricultural exports on which hundreds of millions of people worldwide depend. They also condemned Russia’s recent missile attacks on Odesa, Mykolaiv, and other port cities, including Moscow’s cynical drone attack on the Ukrainian grain storage facility in the Danube port city of Reni, very close to the Romanian border. Allies noted that Russia’s new warning area in the Black Sea, within Bulgaria’s exclusive economic zone, has created new risks for miscalculation and escalation, as well as serious impediments to freedom of navigation.  Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană said: “Russia continues to show utter disrespect for international law and for the people worldwide who depend on Ukrainian grain. Russia is threatening civilian ships, terrorising peaceful cities, and destroying parts of the world’s cultural heritage with its brutal strikes. NATO is united. We stand in solidarity with our Black Sea Allies, we will continue to protect one another, and we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “Russia bears full responsibility for its dangerous and escalatory actions in the Black Sea region. Russia must stop weaponising hunger, and threatening the world’s most vulnerable people with food instability. Russia’s actions also pose substantial risks to the stability of the Black Sea region, which is of strategic importance to NATO. Allies are stepping up support to Ukraine and increasing our vigilance. We remain ready to defend every inch of Allied territory from any aggression.” Allies welcomed the continued efforts of Türkiye to revitalise the grain deal, and the efforts of other Allies – including Bulgaria and Romania – as well as the European Union and the United Nations to enable the continued export of Ukrainian grain by land and sea. Allies also made clear that they would continue to provide Ukraine with major military, economic, and humanitarian assistance.  NATO and Allies are stepping up surveillance and reconnaissance in the Black Sea region, including with maritime patrol aircraft and drones. Since last year, in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, NATO has significantly increased its presence in the region, including with two new multinational battlegroups in Bulgaria and Romania. Today marked the second meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, following its inaugural meeting at the Vilnius Summit earlier in July. NATO ambassadors and invitee Sweden were joined by videoconference by Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure; and Brigadier General Oleksii Hromov, Deputy Chief of Main Operational Directorate (J3) of General Staff of the Armed Forces.    

Ukraine will be invited to NATO when allies agree and conditions are met - Stoltenberg

The heads of state and government of NATO member countries have agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine and said they would issue an invitation for Ukraine to join the military alliance when allies agree and conditions are met. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this at a press conference in Vilnius on Tuesday, July 11, after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of heads of state and government. "We reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan. This would change Ukraine's membership path from a two-step process to a one-step process. We also made clear that we will issue an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO when allies agree and conditions are met," Stoltenberg said. According to him, this decision is part of a package of three elements agreed by Allies "to bring Ukraine closer to NATO." Stoltenberg said that another element is "a new multi-year assistance program for Ukraine to enable the transition from Soviet-era to NATO standards, training and doctrines, to help rebuild Ukraine's security and defense sector and to cover critical needs like fuel, de-mining equipment and medical supplies." According to him, this decision is part of a package of three elements agreed by Allies "to bring Ukraine closer to NATO." Stoltenberg said that another element is "a new multi-year assistance program for Ukraine to enable the transition from Soviet-era to NATO standards, training and doctrines, to help rebuild Ukraine's security and defense sector and to cover critical needs like fuel, de-mining equipment and medical supplies." Vilnius Summit Communiqué  

Secretary General: Vilnius Summit will make Ukraine stronger, reinforce NATO’s deterrence and defence

Previewing the Vilnius Summit at NATO Headquarters on Friday (7 July 2023), Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the meeting of Allied leaders “will send a clear message: NATO stands united, and Russia’s aggression will not pay.”   “I expect Allied leaders will agree a package with three elements, to bring Ukraine closer to NATO,” said Mr Stoltenberg. The package will include a multi-year programme of assistance to ensure interoperability; upgraded political ties – with President Zelenskyy attending the inaugural meeting of a new NATO-Ukraine Council; and a reaffirmation that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, with unity on how to bring Ukraine closer to its goal. Allies will also take major steps to strengthen deterrence and defence, with the adoption of three new regional defence plans to counter the two main threats to NATO: Russia and terrorism. The plans will be supported by 300,000 troops on higher readiness, including substantial air and naval combat power. Allies are also expected to endorse a Defence Production Action Plan to “aggregate demand, boost capacity, and increase interoperability” and a more ambitious defence investment pledge to invest a minimum of 2% of Gross Domestic Product annually on defence. The Secretary General welcomed that NATO’s new defence spending estimates, released today, show a real increase of 8.3% for European Allies and Canada in 2023. "This is the biggest increase in decades, and the ninth consecutive year of increases in our defence spending," said the Secretary General. "So European Allies and Canada will have invested over 450 billion extra US dollars since we agreed our defence investment pledge in 2014." The leaders of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, as well as the European Union, will also take part in the Vilnius Summit. This will be Finland’s first Summit as a NATO Ally, the Secretary General noted, adding: “we look forward to Sweden joining as soon as possible.” Following a constructive meeting of senior officials from Türkiye, Sweden and Finland on Thursday, Mr Stoltenberg will meet with President Erdogan and Prime Minister Kristersson in Vilnius on 10 July, as the next step.

North Atlantic Council extends mandate of the NATO Secretary General

NATO Allies agreed on Tuesday (4 July 2023) to extend the mandate of Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by a further year, until 1 October 2024. The decision will be endorsed by NATO Heads of State and Government at the Vilnius Summit.  Allies thanked the Secretary General for his leadership and commitment, which has been critical to preserving transatlantic unity in the face of unprecedented security challenges. Mr Stoltenberg said: “I am honoured by the decision of NATO Allies to extend my term as Secretary General. The transatlantic bond between Europe and North America has ensured our freedom and security for nearly seventy-five years, and in a more dangerous world, our great Alliance is more important than ever.”  

Australia legalises psychedelics for mental health

Australia has become the first country in the world to legalise the use of psychedelics to treat some mental health conditions. According to the BBC Approved psychiatrists can now prescribe MDMA to those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and magic mushrooms for some types of depression. The controversial move has been hailed as a game-changer by many scientists and mental health experts. However, others say the move has been too hasty and should not be over-hyped. Experts say there is still the risk of a "bad trip", which is when the user has an unpleasant experience while under the influence of drugs. And the therapy comes at a cost, with Australian media reporting one course could cost tens of thousands of dollars. MDMA - also known as the party drug ecstasy - is a synthetic drug that acts as a hallucinogen. It increases the user's energy levels, sensory experiences and distorts their sense of time. Magic mushrooms, which grow naturally, also have hallucinogenic effects due to the active compound psilocybin. While Australia is the first country in the world to regulate the drugs as medications, clinical trials are also underway in the US, Canada and Israel. Under the new regulations which became official in Australia on 1 July, approved psychiatrists can prescribe MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psilocybin for depression that has resisted other treatments. Use of the psychedelics would be carefully monitored and not a case of "take a pill and go away", said Dr Mike Musker, a mental health researcher at the University of South Australia. Describing the move as a "game-changer", he told AFP news agency that, in the case of MDMA for example, the patient would likely have three treatments over five to eight weeks. Each treatment would last about eight hours, with the therapist staying with the patient the whole time. Patients should not expect a miracle cure, however. "I have read about stories where people have had what you call bad trips, or actually they've re-experienced their trauma, and so we've got to take great caution," Dr Musker said. Professor Susan Rossell, a cognitive neuropsychologist at Melbourne's Swinburne University said that while psychedelics certainly had the potential for therapeutic use, the move had come about too quickly. "When you look at interventions... for any other kind of disease, whether it's cardiovascular disease or cancer, you cannot get a drug to market as quickly as this has been done," she told AFP. Prof Rossell, who is leading Australia's biggest trial on the effects of psilocybin on depression, added that more research was needed to determine the long-term outcomes of the therapy. Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) shocked many in the medical and science world in February when it reclassified MDMA and psilocybin so they could be used for therapeutic purposes. It declared the drugs "relatively safe" when used in a "medically-controlled environment" for patients "with serious mental health conditions". Otherwise, both MDMA and psilocybin are illegal in Australia. The TGA acknowledges that there are unknowns and inconclusive evidence, but says "there are promising signs" that controlled therapeutic use of the drugs may improve mental health for some people and that the "benefits for some patients... will outweigh the risks". The regulator says there are currently no approved products that contain MDMA or psilocybin. However the reclassification means psychiatrists will be able to access and legally supply certain medicines that contain them, even if they have not been evaluated for safety or effectiveness.

Zelensky says all those who help the aggressor will receive a response from Ukraine and the world

The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, warned that anyone supporting the invader will face repercussions from both Ukraine and the rest of the world.This is how he replied to Ukraine's approval of more sanctions in a video message on Saturday. "Today, another package of Ukraine's sanctions against those who help Russia wage this terrorist war has been published. In particular, there are sanctions against almost 300 legal entities and about 200 individuals. And these are not only Russian citizens. Anyone in the world who helps the aggressor will receive a response from Ukraine and the whole world," he said. The President has imposed new sanctions against more than 190 individuals and 291 legal entities, mostly Russians, their factories and companies, as well as Georgian Airways, which has resumed flights to Russia, and its owner, Tamaz Gaiashvili," said the head of the Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak.  

Germany hosts biggest ever air exercise of NATO forces

Allied air forces began the largest deployment exercise in NATO’s history on Monday (12 June 2023). Twenty-five nations are taking part in the two-week long “Air Defender” exercise, with around 10,000 personnel and 250 aircraft. “Air Defender sends a clear message that NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu, adding, “Air Defender is necessary because we live in a more dangerous world. As we face the biggest security crisis in a generation, we stand united to keep our countries and our people safe.” The exercise, she added, “is a strong display of Germany’s commitment, and capabilities and we thank Germany for hosting this record exercise. With 250 aircraft, including around 100 from the United States, Air Defender also demonstrates the strong bond between Europe and North America, working together in NATO.”  Exercise “Air Defender” has been planned for several years. Hosted and led by Germany, it will help ensure NATO air forces are trained and ready to respond together. Most of the aircraft will be stationed on several German air bases. Training missions will primarily take place over the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and Southern Germany. The drills are aimed at boosting interoperability and preparedness to protect against aircraft, drones and missiles attacks on cities and critical infrastructure. Other training events will include supporting ground troops and evacuation missions. Air Defender will run until 23 June.  

U.S. Air Force Reserve A-10s coming to Europe, support Army-led DEFENDER 23 exercise

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Activities begin this month across ten European countries and continue through June as part of a U.S. Army-led exercise DEFENDER 2023, which U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa is supporting in several ways. Ten Air Force Reserve Command A-10C Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing, based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, are slated to arrive in the USAFE-AFAFRICA area of operations to support DEFENDER 23. The aircraft will be primarily based in Spain and Greece during the exercise. DEFENDER 23 is a USEUCOM-directed multinational joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between U.S. and NATO Allies and partners. DEFENDER 23 consists of three separate but related exercises. Those exercises are Swift Response, Immediate Response and Saber Guardian. Each of these exercises focuses on unique and challenging objectives. As an example, Swift Response tests the exercise participants’ ability to conduct three separate yet simultaneous joint forcible entry airborne operations. Exercise Immediate Response allows the participating nations and individuals to work through the complexities of rapidly building combat power arriving from the U.S. Finally, Exercise Saber Guardian affords participating units unique challenges such as conducting a forward passage of lines, contested wet gap crossings and joint forceable entry operations to seize key terrain objectives. USAFE-AFAFRICA has significant participation in all three exercises. "This annual, nearly two-month long exercise is focused on the strategic deployment of U.S.-based forces, employment of Army pre-positioned stocks and interoperability with European allies and partners," said Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, during a briefing April 6, 2023, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. DEFENDER 23 is led by U.S. Army Europe and Africa and has been planned since 2021. USAFE-AFAFRICA is the supporting command. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the U.S. military's ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible assets and equipment to assure allies, deter those who would threaten the peace of Europe and defend the continent from aggression. The exercise also demonstrates European nations’ commitment to increasing their militaries’ scale, capability and interoperability. DEFENDER 23 will include multinational troops from more than 20 Allied and partner nations. The large-scale movement of troops and equipment from the continental U.S for this exercise involve extensive support from each of the host nations, demonstrating the importance of ally and partner investment in European military readiness and defense. The United States is a coalescing force in Europe improving interoperability and readiness, and strengthening resolve across the Alliance. Air Force Reserve is supporting USAFE-AFAFRICA operations for DEFENDER 23 in various capacities, specifically with A-10C aircraft from its reserve wing at Whiteman AFB. This year, AFR is commemorating 75 years of service, providing combat-proven Airmen at a moment’s notice to address national security priorities worldwide.   USAFE-AFAFRICA’s ability to support and integrate with U.S. allies and partners continually strengthens solidarity, collective resolve, and ability to adapt in a dynamic warfighting environment. The A-10 is the U.S. Air Force’s primary low-altitude close air support aircraft and is the first Air Force aircraft designed specifically for close air support to ground forces. These capabilities provide essential support to the joint force land component and afford the U.S. military flexibility in projecting power in highly contested regions.

UK to provide financial support to Georgia and Moldova

The UK will provide financial support to Georgia and Moldova. On a visit to the 2 countries (16 to 17 March), Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will announce an extra £10 million to support economic and governance reforms in Moldova, and new funding to strengthen the security of next year’s elections in Georgia. The press service of the British Government disseminated information regarding the visits to be paid by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to Moldova and Georgia on March 16-17. "The UK is ramping up its financial support to Moldova and Georgia, as they continue to suffer from the destabilising impact of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Cleverly will reiterate that the UK stands with the people of Moldova and Georgia in defending their democratic choice to pursue a path of freedom, independence and sovereignty. In Georgia, Cleverly will see how UK cooperation is helping to counter subversive Russian meddling, including collaboration on defence and cyber security. To help strengthen democracy in Georgia, the UK will also be providing £500,000 aimed at creating an environment for free and fair elections in 2024, protecting them from external interference," reads the statement.  

Norway to host informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in May

As announced last December by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Norway has offered to host the next informal meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The meeting will take place in Oslo on 31 May-01 June 2023. “I am grateful for Norway’s offer, and I look forward to meeting with NATO foreign ministers in my home city,” the Secretary General said. “This will be an important opportunity for ministers to address the fundamentally changed security situation due to Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, and our unwavering support for the Ukrainian people so that they can prevail”. Foreign Ministers will hold informal discussions to prepare the meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on 11-12 July 2023. At their 2021 Summit in Brussels, NATO leaders pledged to strengthen and broaden political consultations, including through informal meetings of Foreign Affairs Ministers. The first such meeting was hosted by Germany in Berlin in May 2022.

PACE recognizes that Russia started war against Ukraine in 2014

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has endorsed a resolution, recognizing that the Russian Federation has waged a war of aggression against Ukraine since February 2014. According to Ukrainian media, the relevant resolution, titled 'Conflict-related sexual violence,' was endorsed on Tuesday during the PACE's Winter Session 2023 in Strasbourg.  “Since February 2014, the Russian Federation has waged a war of aggression against Ukraine, which it relaunched on 24 February 2022 with a massive invasion of Ukraine,” the document reads. Additionally, the resolution noted that Russian armed aggression “led to mass conflict-related sexual violence committed by the Russian Federation’s armed forces and by affiliated armed groups against the civilian population of Ukraine and Ukrainian prisoners of war”. According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, over 11 months since the Russian invasion started, 155 cases of conflict-related sexual violence have been recorded in Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Mykolaiv regions. “The officially stated number of cases does not reflect the scale of crimes of the Russian Federation, which are much larger,” the document added. The PACE congratulated Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland for having initiated universal jurisdiction investigations of war crimes in the context of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, or for having declared their intention to do so. The resolution also urged Member States to provide concrete expert and technical support, with the Assembly and the Council of Europe, for the setting up of a special (ad hoc) international tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine “as conflict-related sexual violence is a result of this crime of aggression”. The voting was 122 in favor and four abstentions.

Secretary General praises Germany’s strong contributions to NATO and support to Ukraine

In a visit to Berlin on Tuesday (24 January 2023) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Defence Minister Boris Pistorius for Germany’s significant contributions to NATO and strong support to Ukraine. Stoltenberg praised Germany’s considerable contributions to NATO deterrence and defence at a time when Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused the greatest challenges for our security in generations.  He also commended Germany for being among the Allies providing the most military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including with air defence systems, armoured vehicles, artillery and ammunition. He made clear that “weapons from Germany are saving lives in Ukraine every day.” The Secretary General stressed that President Putin is planning for new offensives, and there are no indications he has changed his goal of controlling Ukraine, so the only way to lasting peace is to make clear that Russia cannot win on the battlefield. Mr Stoltenberg praised recent announcements from Allied nations to increase their support to Ukraine, including through the delivery of tanks.  Stoltenberg said, “at this pivotal moment in the war, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster. ” He welcomed the discussion with minister Pistorius on the issue of battle tanks, adding that “consultations among Allies will continue and I am confident that we will have a solution soon.” On Monday (23 January 2023), the Secretary General attended the Welt Economic Summit with German business leaders in Berlin. He discussed the importance of continued support for Ukraine, defence investment, and societal resilience in a more dangerous and competitive world.

NATO Allies test air and missile defences in Romania

French MAMBA Surface-Based Air and Missile Defence system repelled a simulated air attack by Allied fighter aircraft in an exercise, November 23. Deployed in Romania since May 2022, the MAMBA has been augmenting NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) system. Allied fighters including F-16s from Türkiye, Spanish Eurofighters - currently deployed in Bulgaria on a NATO mission -, US E/A 18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft and French Navy Rafale fighters flying from the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle participated in the routine test of the system. “In response to Russia’s war against Ukraine, we continue to strengthening our deterrence and defences in the eastern part of the Alliance”, said NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “This includes significantly increasing our air defences with more fighter jets and surveillance aircraft on patrol, more ground-based air defences and air-defence-capable ships at sea. Exercises such as this one ensure that NATO forces are able to operate together and remain ready to respond to any threat from any direction”. The Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain (SAMP/T) system - also called MAMBA by the French military - is a theatre anti-missile system designed to protect the battlefield and sensitive sites, such as airports and seaports, against cruise missiles, manned and unmanned aircraft and tactical ballistic missiles. “SBAMD systems like the French MAMBA currently supporting Allied Air Command’s Air Shielding mission in Romania are a key part of the Alliance’s IAMD system. Constant drills and training like this ensure crews are ready to detect and if required respond to air and missile tracks that may threaten their defensive area of operations”, said Brigadier General Christoph Pliet, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Allied Air Command. NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System continuously guards and protects Allied airspace. In addition to French MAMBA system in Romania, Germany has deployed Patriot missiles to Slovakia the US has deployed Patriot missiles to Poland and the Spanish have deployed NASAMS systems to Latvia in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. NATO IAMD is an essential, continuous mission in peacetime, crisis and conflict, safeguarding and protecting the Allies in this context, contributing to the Alliance’s indivisible security and freedom of action.

Council of Europe suspends Russia’s rights of representation

In line with the Statute of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers has today decided to suspend the Russian Federation from its rights of representation in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly with immediate effect as a result of the Russian Federation’s armed attack on Ukraine. The decision adopted today means that the Russian Federation remains a member of the Council of Europe and party to the relevant Council of Europe conventions, including the European Convention on Human Rights. The judge elected to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of the Russian Federation also remains a member of the Court, and applications introduced against the Russian Federation will continue to be examined and decided by the Court. Suspension is not a final measure but a temporary one, leaving channels of communication open.

Russian war against Ukraine, Europe starts in Crimea and will end with its liberation - Zelensky

The Russian war against Ukraine and against entire free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – its liberation. Today it is impossible to say when this will happen. But we are constantly adding the necessary components to the formula for the Crimea liberation. According to Ukrainian media this was stated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in a traditional video message on Tuesday. "Russia has turned our peninsula, which has always been and will always be one of the best places in Europe, into one of the most dangerous places in Europe. Russia brought massive repression, environmental problems, economic stalemate and war to Crimea," he said. According to Zelensky, "historians will someday determine how many people were killed due to Russia's use of Crimea for terror. Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? From Ukraine and Georgia to Syria and beyond." "The presence of Russian occupiers in Crimea is a threat to all of Europe and to global stability. The Black Sea region cannot be safe while Crimea is occupied. There will be no stable and lasting peace in many countries on the Mediterranean coast as long as Russia can use our peninsula as its military base," he said. Zelensky reminded about the Crimea platform, a key diplomatic platform for work on the liberation of Crimea. The Crimea platform will work this year as well. We are already preparing this summit, he said. According to him, "the world is beginning to admit that it was wrong in 2014 when it decided not to give full answers to Russia's first aggressive steps." "Our state is native to peoples whose national cultures and aspirations were formed in Crimea. Therefore, when we work to liberate the peninsula, we are fighting for the restoration of the territorial integrity of our state, and for returning home to the indigenous peoples of Ukraine," the President said. "I believe it will be so. I know that we will return to Ukrainian Crimea. And I am grateful to all our partners and international organizations that help us in this," Zelensky said. According to him, "this year the work of the Crimea Platform will be no less weighty and representative than last year, when its first summit was held in Kyiv. The format will be different, but the meaning will be even greater."