While NATO and the EU will remain joint protectors of Europe for the foreseeable future, the EU is largely united in a desire to build new military infrastructure across the continent. There is not yet consensus on the scope of that military ambition, but the direction of travel towards an EU defence force seems clearer now than at any point in the EU’s history.
In the build up to the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, some advocates for leaving the EU have argued that Britain’s security is better met by its membership of NATO rather than the European Union. In reality, the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU gives it diplomatic leverage and law enforcement mechanisms that it would not have on it own as well as military cooperation beyond that possible within NATO. While NATO remains somewhat of a ‘solution looking for a problem’, the EU takes a broad political, economic and military approach to security that is in keeping with our own approach and is well-suited to the interconnected security threats of the 21st century.
Recent changes in personnel levels, coupled with equipment modernisation and operational experience, has made Russia’s elite airborne force (the VDV) an even more formidable force. As Russia shifts its gaze from perceived threats along its southern borders to those along its western ones, together with a fundamental shift to a military doctrine that once more sees NATO as the primary threat, the temptation to use the VDV as a military solution to political problems will likely only grow.
This briefing sets out the general risk environment within which personnel from Western NGOs and foundations will be operating in Russia. The operating environment for human rights defenders and civil society activists in Russia has become even more constrained. Many activists have been subject to harassment and violence. Furthermore, the Russian president has repeatedly expressed his fear that Western countries use NGOs to manipulate Russian public opinion in order to stir up popular discontent.
Approximately 12 million Syrians have fled their homes as a result of the civil war in their country. Nearly eight million are internally displaced within Syria, and more than four million have sought refuge in nearby countries. Many are making the perilous journey to Europe in search of a better life, and over 500,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in EU countries. Not all who attempt the journey to Europe survive it. There were 4,800 known drownings of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean between October 2013 and April 2015 alone. These tragedies are being facilitated by the organised crime groups that peddle their lucrative trade in smuggling human beings.
Russian forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have significant advantages over Ukrainian forces in the area of electronic warfare. Russian forces are effectively able to nullify the Ukrainian communications and GPS signals in the regions they are deployed to. The advantages the Russians are enjoying in this area are directly contributing to the losses suffered by the Ukrainian armed forces. Western supporters of Kiev might consider supplying the Ukrainians with defensive capabilities, including electronic countermeasures.
This handbook from Open Briefing provides an in-depth look at the ongoing transformation of Russia’s airborne forces, together with a strategic order of battle that details personnel and equipment levels for each of Russia’s four airborne divisions, four independent air assault brigades, Spetsnaz regiment, headquarters units and training division. As such, it represents the most detailed open source intelligence on Russia’s airborne forces available today.
A fortnightly series looking at how major events and issues are reported in Russian media. This week we examine