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Science, Science, and Science – Gerasimov’s 2018 speech

In Blog, English by Christoph BilbanLeave a Comment

Scientific hotspots and an old story Valery Gerasimov held his first speech at the yearly assembly of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences five years ago. It soon became (in)famous as the “Gerasimov doctrine” (see also my comment here), and only recently Mark Galeotti, the inventor of the term, admitted he consciously mislabeled his blog post in 2014 when looking for a catchy title. Some weeks ago, the Voenno-Promyshlenny Kur’er (Military-Industrial Courier) once again featured a speech of Gerasimov’s, in an article called “Scientific Hotspots.” While this marks the first time that it wasn’t Gerasimov himself who authored the transcript, it nonetheless resembles a genuine piece of his thinking. Unsurprisingly, his description of the global security situation suits Russia’s siege mentality. According to the Chief of the Russian General Staff, the United States is still the leading world power, and unwilling to cede its dominance to a multipolar system. In what he tellingly describes as a “conflict” without further ado, Washington, and its allies supposedly mainly rely on non-military means: Gerasimov emphasizes that, besides the oft-thematised political, economic and informational instruments, the U.S.-led alliance also employs diplomatic, scientific and cultural measures. Even sports are weaponized, he claims, in what could be understood as …

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The Syrian conflict’s fallout in Lebanon – and Hezbollah’s role in the quagmire

In Blog by David FussiLeave a Comment

The Syrian civil war affects Lebanon in a myriad of ways, and ever since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011, the security situation in parts of the country deteriorated decisively . The Lebanese state was challenged the most in two hotspots: Tripoli, the second largest city, where radical groups took over parts of town for a few months, and the northern Bekaa Valley on the border to Syria, where ISIS and similar groups held out for more than three years. In summer 2017, Hezbollah took a strong position against these Syrian militias in Lebanon and launched a large scale offensive to regain state monopoly in the border region. The article argues that this takeover and execution of state functions is seen very controversial in Lebanon and abroad, especially because Hezbollah is heavily dependent on its protector Iran.

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Comeback of Deterrence – An Austrian Review of BALTDEFCOL Conference 2018

In Blog, Conference Review, English by Christoph BilbanLeave a Comment

The fourth annual Baltic Defence College conference on Russia took place in Tartu, Estonia from March 8th to 9th. While a lot of the talks were on topics well covered in recent literature and commentaries, there were some strikingly new points as well. For an “outsider” from the peaceful heart of Europe – Austria – the rhetoric encountered on the panels as well as during the breaks, seemed rather belligerent. However, the threat to the Baltic states is real, but not likely. Hence deterrence is the name of the game now for the Baltic armed forces as well as for NATO. Since the NATO summit in Wales in 2014 the term “deterrence” experienced a revival in official documents and statements. While deterrence is seen as the way to mitigate the security risks posed by Russia to this region., RAND Corp in a recent study pointed out that NATO is vastly outgunned on its eastern flank. With just four battlegroups of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence permanently present in the area, force levels prevent a credible deterrence by denial. Nowadays, the EFP’s role is thus akin to a tripwire put in place to trigger Article 5. It was noteworthy then that conference …

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For domestic use only

In Blog, English by Bernhard VölklLeave a Comment

Vladimir Putin’s new nuclear weapons are aimed at the March 18th elections – and Washington’s revised nuclear posture Dwarfed by the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on the screens behind him, Russian president Vladimir Putin gave his 14th state of the union address on March 1st. The two hour long televised speech started with the promise of a better future and ended with the threat of nuclear Armageddon. Three weeks ahead of presidential elections, Mr Putin need not fear for his job: In a carefully vetted field of contenders whom he declined to debate on TV, he is all but sure to come out on top. But he also knows that that with an economy fresh out of recession, growing at just 2% in 2017 and stagnation ahead, he has little to offer to ordinary Russians. Their standard of living has not improved in a long time, and the president’s promise of a 50% increase in GDP over the next six years must have seemed like mockery to some. An hour into the address, the main event of his subdued election campaign, the message switched to defiance, and things took a far darker turn.

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This week in Austrian defence | April 23

In Blog, English by Bernhard VölklLeave a Comment

TWIAD is your weekly, English-language briefing on national security and defence affairs in the alpine republic. The most relevant news reports, press releases, articles and announcements are recapped and, where necessary, given some context for greater accessibility. Feel free to get in touch with us and give us your feedback and thoughts, ask questions in the comments and join the #TWIAD raucity on Twitter! Eurofighter Typhoon committee of inquiry specifies its schedule The parliamentary committee for the inquiry into the Eurofighter Typhoon deal has penciled in a schedule: sessions are to be held twice a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with two to three witnesses per day. The schedule is to be confirmed on May 9, with sessions to commence thereafter. Row over sexist recruitment ad  A media row ensued after the Armed Forces released a recruitment ad containing a pun building on the homonymic German abbreviations for bra and Bundesheer.  The MoD spokesman was quick to admit a mistake and said that the hurried release ahead of a nationwide recruiting event for women had not undergone the usual checks. (Indeed, even the armed forces’ URL was spelt wrongly in the ad.) The headlines dealt a blow to the current recruitment drive for more female uniformed …

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Khan Shaykhun is Thightening the Syrian Knot

In Blog by David FussiLeave a Comment

This article sheds light on events in the run-up Khan Shaykhun chemical attack on April 4, 2017 as well as its context and likely consequences for the war in Syria. Read the full article in German. In the weeks prior to the April 4 chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, fierce battling between government and rebel forces had taken place along several fronts across Syria. Political landmarks such as the end of Turkey’s mission “Euphrates Shield” and its expected pivot towards expulsing Kurdish forces from the border region fell into the same period. No solid proof of the identity of the attack’s perpetrators has materialised thus far. International reactions were mixed, with Western governments largely putting the blame on the Syrian regime. A “retaliatory” US cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base took place on April 7. It is furthermore not entirely who has been controlling the area around Khan Shaykhun and might thus have been the target of the April 4 attack. The term “rebels” is indiscriminately used for a broad range of groups that differ in their origins, aims and motifs as well as in their supporters from abroad. At the same time, the near-total absence of observers that …

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This week in Austrian defence | April 9

In Blog, English, weekly review by Bernhard VölklLeave a Comment

TWIAD is your weekly, English-language briefing on national security and defence affairs in the alpine republic. The most relevant news reports, press releases, articles and announcements are recapped and, where necessary, given some context for greater accessibility. Feel free to get in touch with us and give us your feedback and thoughts, ask questions in the comments and join the #TWIAD raucity on Twitter! €19.84m MoD expenditures on external services in 2016 The Austrian Ministry in Defence in a response to MP Nikolaus Scherak’s parliamentary inquiry revealed its 2016 expenditures for externally sourced services, totalling €19.84m. This equals about half of the government’s total stated expenditures of €42.2m in that category. The figure does not, however, include all ministries. Item Cost Transport Services €6.59m Trainings €4,73m “Task Force Eurofighter” €3.4m Media and advertisement €0.95m Other  €4.17m TOTAL €19.84m A comprehensive tabular list of all stated expenditures can be found here (German). Alouette III retiring in 2020 Contrary to what has been reported last month, Austria’s venerable Alouette III helicopters are not going to remain in service until 2025, but scheduled to retire in 2020. According to Milnews.at, there will be no direct successor and pilots will be retrained for the AB-212. The AB-212 has been touted a poor …