European leaders in Prague are “looking for a new order without Russia.” That’s according to the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. He even recorded an 80-second video elaborating upon this point, and posted it to Twitter, here.
“Europe has to face the crisis created by the war in Ukraine, it has to build a new security order to face the food and energy crises,” Borrell said Thursday. “Since Russia unleashed its brutal aggression against Ukraine,” he said, “Europe has entered in a new phase of our history.”
Germany’s chancellor also publicly rejected Russia’s latest attempted annexation of Ukraine, which was announced late last week in Moscow. Both Borrell and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were speaking at a unique event in the Czech capital on Thursday involving what’s being called the European Political Community—bringing together all 27 EU members along with 17 other European countries.
“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a brutal violation of the peace and security order that we had over the last decades in Europe,” Scholz said Thursday, and declared, “We don’t accept that part of a neighboring country is annexed.”
Norway says it’s ready to step up on behalf of European energy security, Prime Minister Jonas Støre announced in a joint statement with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Through manipulation and weaponization of the energy market, Russia deliberately tries to blackmail and split close partners, hurt households and businesses, and weaken essential, rule-based regional cooperation,” the two leaders said. “We therefore also need to rethink and reshape energy security in Europe.” And that will include “jointly develop[ing] tools, each of us acting within our competences, to stabilize energy markets and to limit the impact of market manipulation and of price volatility, in order to reduce excessively high prices in a meaningful way in the short and longer term.” More, here.
Update: The EU’s latest round of sanctions against Russia were finalized Thursday. Read over the details of that package, via the European Council, here. The Associated Press and Reuters have more from Prague, here and here.
Citing Putin’s invasion, the International Monetary Fund just lowered its economic forecast for 2023, and all the way to 2026. That’s according to Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, who spoke Thursday in Washington. AP has more, here.
Back stateside, new U.S. polling shows strong support for Ukraine, “despite Russian threats,” according to survey data from Reuters/Ipsos published Wednesday. Topline read: “The online poll of 1,005 Americans showed that 73% agreed that the United States should continue to support Ukraine, despite Russian warnings that it could make use of its nuclear arsenal. Both Democrats and Republicans agreed, although there was more support among Biden’s fellow Democrats—81%—than Republicans—at 66%.”
Several apparent opportunists seem to be cashing in on the drive to arm Ukraine, and that’s fueling new small arms proliferation concerns, the New York Times reports from Missouri, where an osteopath and a limo driver appear to have scored big.
What’s going on: “Since the Russian invasion in February, the Biden administration has quietly fast-tracked hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of private arms sales to Ukraine, slashing a weekslong approval process to a matter of hours,” Justin Scheck of the Times reports. To get a sense of the scale of this effort, consider this: “In just the first four months of the year—the latest data available—the State Department authorized more than $300 million in private deals to Ukraine, government documents show,” Scheck writes. “The department authorized less than $15 million worth of such sales to Ukraine during all of the 2021 fiscal year.”
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Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. On this day in 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel, kicking off the almost three-week long Yom Kippur War. The war quickly attracted several dozen planeloads of Soviet weaponry to Cairo and Damascus each day. It also triggered the 1973 oil crisis, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC irate at Israel and its supporters—including the U.S., UK, Canada, and Japan. That embargo helped send the global economy into an inflationary spiral as the price of oil in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, shaking up the lives of ordinary Americans during an already tumultuous time, as historians Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer explain in the first two chapters of their book, “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.”
The U.S. Army just published a 50-page plan to fix its “climate resilience” problem. The service’s new climate strategy, released Wednesday, includes ways to reduce emissions and combat climate change; but to some observers’ dismay, it doesn’t directly acknowledge “the military’s hand in exacerbating the problem,” Military.com reports.
The plan says climate change and extreme weather will increase demand for disaster response as well as “disrupt Army activities and increase the cycle of crisis deployments.” Once implemented, the plan will result in a “Total Army that is better able to train, deploy, fight, and win the nation’s wars while reducing the force’s overall [greenhouse gas] emissions.” Read more from Military.com, here, or see the PDF of the plan itself.
By the way: The Air Force and Space Force also are making plans to mitigate climate change and continue to operate in extreme weather conditions. That department also released a climate plan Wednesday, and it includes fuel-efficient aircraft, modernized infrastructure, and reducing emissions and energy consumption, Defense News reports. Like the Army’s plan, the Air Force’s strategy includes a strong focus on continuing the service’s mission, while simultaneously making changes that reduce impacts to the environment.
“We must prioritize air and space dominance in a security environment shaped by a changing climate, yet also recognize and reduce the department’s role in contributing to climate change,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall wrote in the plan’s introduction. “Department capabilities that provide air and space dominance and global reach are fed by a steady diet of fossil fuel, representing the bulk of the Defense Department’s carbon footprint and a continual burden on our changing climate. … Reducing our energy demand both enhances our mission capability and mitigates contested logistics risk.” See a PDF of the entire action plan, here.
Apropos of nothing: The president of Uganda had to apologize to the nation of Kenya this week after his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba—a 48-year-old general in the military—posted threats of invasion on the social media site Twitter.
“It wouldn’t take us, my army and me, 2 weeks to capture Nairobi,” the general tweeted on Monday. By Tuesday, he was “removed from his post as commander of land forces,” al-Jazeera reports.
“I ask our Kenyan brothers and sisters to forgive us for tweets sent by General Muhoozi,” his dad said in a statement Wednesday. “The correct method for Pan-Africanists is confidential interactions or using the available” forums, President Yoweri Museveni said. Tiny bit more, here.
And lastly: Despite Putin’s Ukraine invasion, the U.S. helped send a Russian cosmonaut into space, which is the first time that specific kind of collaboration has happened in 20 years. The four-person crew traveled in a Falcon rocket from SpaceX, which was the eighth manned mission for the private U.S. company since 2020.
Moscow’s Anna Kikina joined a crew led by U.S. Marine Col. Nicole Mann; American Navy Capt. Josh Cassada and Japan’s Koichi Wakata are also tagging along for the ride, which departed the Florida coast on Wednesday and is expected to last until March as the four live and work aboard the International Space Station about 250 miles above the planet.
In case this U.S.-Russian cooperation sounds familiar, “Kikina is the Russian Space Agency’s exchange for NASA’s Frank Rubio, who launched to the space station two weeks ago from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket” along with two other cosmonauts, the Associated Press reports.
For all mankind? Russian officials said in late July that they want to quit the ISS sometime after 2024, and launch their own space station into orbit; but it’s unclear how soon that can actually happen. The ISS itself is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2031. Read more about Russia’s public intentions from the New York Times or SpaceNews.
Update: China’s own space station—the Tiangong—is almost complete, after nearly a decade of assembly. This week, Chinese officials announced they’re looking for about a dozen astronauts to send up eventually. Space.com has the latest; and the BBC has more on Beijing’s wider space ambitions, here.