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Russia's armed forces: Defence capabilities and policy

10-03-2021

Reforms launched under Vladimir Putin have restored some of the Russian armed forces' former glory. Russia now has a streamlined, mobile and mostly professional military, equipped with modern weapons. The impact of these changes was visible in Syria, Russia's first military intervention outside the post-Soviet region. Despite this increased capability, there are demographic and financial constraints on Russian military power. The armed forces are not attracting enough recruits to go fully professional ...

Reforms launched under Vladimir Putin have restored some of the Russian armed forces' former glory. Russia now has a streamlined, mobile and mostly professional military, equipped with modern weapons. The impact of these changes was visible in Syria, Russia's first military intervention outside the post-Soviet region. Despite this increased capability, there are demographic and financial constraints on Russian military power. The armed forces are not attracting enough recruits to go fully professional, and therefore still need conscripts – who are less well-trained than career soldiers – to make up the numbers. Moscow has spent billions of dollars on new weapons, such as the innovative nuclear missiles unveiled by President Putin in 2018, but not all branches of the armed forces are equally well equipped. Russia's increasingly assertive foreign policy raises the question of how much of a threat its military represents. Officially, the role of the armed forces is to defend Russian territory, but in practice Moscow uses military force to assert control over its post-Soviet sphere of influence, for example in Ukraine. Russia also uses hybrid methods such as cyber-attacks, including against North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. NATO's overall numerical superiority means that Russia is likely to avoid all-out war with the alliance. However, the risk that it might use nuclear weapons and other niche strengths to escape retaliation for a limited attack (for example in the Baltic region) cannot be entirely discounted.

Myanmar: The return of the junta

16-02-2021

On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar armed forces seized power and imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the country since 2016. The coup threatens to derail Myanmar’s progress towards democracy, which began in 2008 after five decades of brutal military rule. Huge protests have broken out in Myanmar, calling for the restoration of the elected civilian government. The EU is considering additional sanctions against the country.

On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar armed forces seized power and imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the country since 2016. The coup threatens to derail Myanmar’s progress towards democracy, which began in 2008 after five decades of brutal military rule. Huge protests have broken out in Myanmar, calling for the restoration of the elected civilian government. The EU is considering additional sanctions against the country.

How the COVID-19 crisis has affected security and defence-related aspects of the EU

27-01-2021

This paper looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has directly and indirectly affected European security and defence. It documents how missions and operations of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) were directly impacted. It finds that COVID-19 has accentuated already recognised capacity shortfalls of the CSDP, such as strategic airlift, secure communications and command and control. Defence spending through EU instruments, and to a lesser extent at national level, has come under pressure although ...

This paper looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has directly and indirectly affected European security and defence. It documents how missions and operations of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) were directly impacted. It finds that COVID-19 has accentuated already recognised capacity shortfalls of the CSDP, such as strategic airlift, secure communications and command and control. Defence spending through EU instruments, and to a lesser extent at national level, has come under pressure although it may still escape post-2008 style cuts. The pandemic revealed the vulnerabilities of Member States’ infrastructure and supply chains, and the limited competences of the EU in supporting Member States’ management of public health emergencies. COVID-19 tends to act as a threat multiplier and source of instability, particularly in low-income countries already affected by socio-economic imbalances and governance problems. The pandemic is likely to accelerate existing trends, including the declining share of the US and the EU in the world economy compared to Asia, intensifying concerns about China’s growing assertiveness, growing attention to IT security and cyber capabilities, and the interconnection between conventional and unconventional security risks. This analysis also looks at which lessons the EU should learn in order to better manage and prepare for such crises. At a strategic level, the EU needs to invest in lesson learning exercises with the European Parliament playing a key role in making the learning publicly accessible. It should also be proactive in shaping international discourses about international governance and the role of the EU post COVID-19. Furthermore, the paper elaborates 19 short and longer-term recommendations, for instance, on how CSDP missions can become more resilient in public health emergencies and which capability shortfalls need addressing most; how defence spending can be made more efficient and better targeted; or how the EU can help to better coordinate military support to civilian authorities. Finally, it advocates investment in health intelligence and better managing the biosecurity risks arising from growing access to dual-use technologies. The EU should forge a preventive approach to future pandemics and associated risks and embrace a comprehensive approach to security and resilience. Yet, one should not lose sight of the distinctive function of the CSDP and what it can currently deliver.

Externí autor

Christoph O. Meyer, Sophia Besch, Prof. Martin Bricknell, Dr Ben Jones Christoph O. MEYER, Martin BRICKNELL, Ramon PACHECO PARDO, Ben JONES.

The role of armed forces in the fight against coronavirus

28-04-2020

While armed forces may find it difficult to distance themselves from what is perceived as their primary mission, the coronavirus pandemic largely challenges society's vision of their role. This has been showcased through the vital contributions of the military to civilian authorities' responses to contain and stop the spread of coronavirus. Exchanging guns for bags of food supplies and disinfectant spray, military personnel have been among the first responders in the coronavirus pandemic. Whether ...

While armed forces may find it difficult to distance themselves from what is perceived as their primary mission, the coronavirus pandemic largely challenges society's vision of their role. This has been showcased through the vital contributions of the military to civilian authorities' responses to contain and stop the spread of coronavirus. Exchanging guns for bags of food supplies and disinfectant spray, military personnel have been among the first responders in the coronavirus pandemic. Whether distributing food, building hospitals or shelters for the homeless, European armed forces were mobilised early. Trained to react quickly in highly dangerous conditions, the military carried out missions of repatriation and evacuation of citizens and transported medical supplies and protective equipment. Almost all European Union (EU) Member States have mobilised their armed forces in one way or another. Discouraging post-crisis economic projections indicate that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will not spare the defence sector, nor will it weaken geopolitical tensions. With resources further under strain, countries' abilities to meet the EU's defence ambitions with the required investments is under question. However, current EU defence initiatives, if appropriately financed, could see the EU being better prepared to face future pandemics among other threats. Examples include various projects under the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) mechanism, as well as the European Defence Fund, whose precursor already envisioned pandemic-relevant projects. While EU missions and operations abroad continue, they too have seen their activities limited. However, this has not stopped the EU from deploying staff to help locals in host countries to tackle the virus. In coordination with the EU, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has also provided vital assistance to Allies and partners. Its disaster relief coordination centre, as well as the strategic lift platform and rapid air mobility mechanism, successfully ensured the swift provision of essential equipment and supplies. Around the world, armed forces have demonstrated their added value by closely assisting authorities and citizens in battling the pandemic.

Military mobility: Infrastructure for the defence of Europe

25-02-2020

To 'unite and strengthen Europe' is one of the goals expressed by the newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, believed that only 'a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external.' European infrastructure that enables connectivity and ensures a rapid response in case of a crisis is a prerequisite for these visions. Since 2017, awareness has been increasing about the obstacles preventing ...

To 'unite and strengthen Europe' is one of the goals expressed by the newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, believed that only 'a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external.' European infrastructure that enables connectivity and ensures a rapid response in case of a crisis is a prerequisite for these visions. Since 2017, awareness has been increasing about the obstacles preventing armed forces from moving effectively and swiftly across borders in crisis conditions. The measures taken to correct this strategic vulnerability are known under the term military mobility. Existing regulatory, administrative, and infrastructure inconsistencies and impediments across the territory of the European Union (EU) significantly hamper military exercises and training. Military mobility aims to harmonise rules across EU Member States and to explore the potential of a civilian-military approach to infrastructure development. Through measures such as funding dual use transport infrastructure, and simplifying diplomatic clearances and customs rules, the European Commission aims to improve military mobility across as well as beyond the EU, in support of missions and operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy. The unique EU contribution is its ability to leverage existing policies in the civilian realm to create added value for the military. This goal can be achieved only if a whole-of-government approach is applied, which in turn requires close collaboration between different bodies at the EU level, between them and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and between them and various actors at the Member State level. So far, military mobility has enjoyed a high degree of commitment from all stakeholders, which has in turn ensured swift policy implementation. It is becoming increasingly clear that military mobility is an essential piece in the EU's ambition to become a stronger global actor.

EU Defence: The White Book implementation process

12-12-2018

The question of a defence White Book at European level has been under discussion for some time. Many voices, particularly in the European Parliament, are pushing for such an initiative, while others consider that it is not only unnecessary, but could even dangerously divide Europeans. Concretely, the question cannot be tackled separately from that of defence planning and processes which underpin the development of military capabilities, as White Books are often the starting point for these. Within ...

The question of a defence White Book at European level has been under discussion for some time. Many voices, particularly in the European Parliament, are pushing for such an initiative, while others consider that it is not only unnecessary, but could even dangerously divide Europeans. Concretely, the question cannot be tackled separately from that of defence planning and processes which underpin the development of military capabilities, as White Books are often the starting point for these. Within the European Union, however, there is not just one, but three types defence planning: the national planning of each of the Member States; planning within the framework of NATO (the NATO Defence Planning Process) and, finally, the European Union’s planning, which has developed in stages since the Helsinki summit of 1999 and comprises many elements. Its best-known component - but by no means not the only one - is the capability development plan established by the European Defence Agency. How do all these different planning systems coexist? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Answering these preliminary questions is essential in mapping the path to a White Book. This is what this study sets out to do.

Externí autor

Mr Frédéric MAURO

EU efforts on counter-terrorism - Capacity-building in third countries

19-12-2017

In the European Union (EU), responsibility for counter-terrorism lies primarily with Member States. However, the role of the EU itself in counter-terrorism has grown significantly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that have hit Europe in the post-'9/11' era. The cross-border aspects of the terrorist threat call for a coordinated EU approach. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as internal and external security, has come to shape the ...

In the European Union (EU), responsibility for counter-terrorism lies primarily with Member States. However, the role of the EU itself in counter-terrorism has grown significantly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that have hit Europe in the post-'9/11' era. The cross-border aspects of the terrorist threat call for a coordinated EU approach. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as internal and external security, has come to shape the EU's actions beyond its own borders. In the context of terrorism, the EU has an extensive toolkit of human and financial resources that support third countries in managing or mitigating terrorist threats. A key element of EU action is capacity-building in partner countries, to ensure local ownership, a sustainable assistance model and the full use of local expertise for challenges that are geographically distinct. The EU's external capacity-building efforts in counter-terrorism include security sector reform (SSR)-associated measures, such as strengthening the rule of law, improving the governance of security providers, improving border management, reforming the armed forces, and training law enforcement actors. As part of the EU's multifaceted assistance, efforts to curb terrorist funding and improve strategic communications to counter radicalisation and violent extremism complement SSR-related activities. Soft-power projects funded through the Commission's different funding instruments, coupled with both military and civilian common security and defence policy missions provide the framework through which the EU tries to address both the root causes and the symptoms of terrorism and radicalisation.

Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO): From notification to establishment

08-12-2017

On 13 November 2017, 23 EU Member States signed a joint notification addressed to the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) on their intention to participate in PESCO. The Council is now expected to formally establish PESCO, possibly before the end of the year.

On 13 November 2017, 23 EU Member States signed a joint notification addressed to the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) on their intention to participate in PESCO. The Council is now expected to formally establish PESCO, possibly before the end of the year.

European defence [What Think Tanks are thinking]

08-12-2017

The European Union is moving closer to developing integrated European defence after 23 of its 28 Member States agreed in November on joint military investment in equipment, research and develop¬ment through Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), an enhanced-cooperation mechanism enshrined in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. The plan is to jointly develop European military capabilities and make them available for operations separately from, or in complementarity with, NATO. This note brings together commentaries ...

The European Union is moving closer to developing integrated European defence after 23 of its 28 Member States agreed in November on joint military investment in equipment, research and develop¬ment through Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), an enhanced-cooperation mechanism enshrined in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. The plan is to jointly develop European military capabilities and make them available for operations separately from, or in complementarity with, NATO. This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on European Union defence. Earlier publications on the topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking' published in May 2017.

Permanent Structured Cooperation: national perspectives and state of play

17-07-2017

One year after the British vote on Brexit, the Member States of the European Union seem to be on the verge of waking the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ of European defence: permanent structured cooperation (PESCO). Do they have the same understanding of its intended goals and of the ways forward or means of achieving them, or are they simply motivated by the desire not to end up on the edges of the sort of Eurogroup for defence that is being set up? What are the specific areas of agreement and disagreement between ...

One year after the British vote on Brexit, the Member States of the European Union seem to be on the verge of waking the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ of European defence: permanent structured cooperation (PESCO). Do they have the same understanding of its intended goals and of the ways forward or means of achieving them, or are they simply motivated by the desire not to end up on the edges of the sort of Eurogroup for defence that is being set up? What are the specific areas of agreement and disagreement between the groups taking shape in the European Council? Have any debates intentionally or unintentionally glossed over been glossed over and, if so, which ones? Lastly, what are the desirable scenarios for the months and years to come? Is there still time to change things or has the die been cast? The purpose of this study is to answer those questions.

Externí autor

Me. Frederic MAURO, M. Federico SANTOPINTO

Chystané akce

07-09-2021
EPRS online policy roundtable: What is the future of (European) sovereignty?
Další akce -
EPRS
08-09-2021
EPRS online policy roundtable: Statistics, Data and Trust: Why figures matter [...]
Další akce -
EPRS
21-09-2021
EPRS online Book Talk with David Harley: Matters of Record: Inside European Politics
Další akce -
EPRS

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