Today's D Brief: EU defense trends; Biden-Putin preview; New radar in Alaska; New Jan. 6 allegations; And a bit more.
Some good news for Europe: EU members are now spending more than ever on defense, totaling €198 billion. And that includes nearly €36 billion in new equipment, and a 5% increase overall to an average of 1.5% of GDP for member states in 2020.
Some bad news: Coordinated investments seem to be declining. That is to say “spending for collaborative projects does not seem to be a priority” for most members, and collectively totaled just €4.1 billion, which is a 13% decline from the year prior, according to a new report from the EU’s European Defence Agency. (An example of a collaborative investment is the Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo program, which is one of 14 such projects the EDA launched in mid-November.)
Along similar lines, EU states bought only 11% of their equipment “in cooperation” with other EU members in 2020, and that’s “well short of the 35% collective benchmark” set for the 26 members of the EDA (Denmark is in the EU, but it has opted out of this security arrangement).
Also notable: Defense research and development money rose 46% for a total of about €2.5 billion last year, which is another record for the EDA. Germany and France alone accounted for 90% of the year-over-year gains from 2019.
But “The downward trend on European collaborative spending is particularly concerning,” EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý said in a statement, and noted, “There are reasons to be optimistic that this trend will be reversed in the years to come,” including launching the European Defence Fund. “It is now time for Member States to firmly move European defence collaboration from process to projects,” Šedivý added. Read more about the fund and some associated new projects, here. Or read over the EU’s new report (PDF) here.
ICYMI: The EU and the U.S. jointly criticized China’s “problematic and unilateral actions in the South and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait,” and emphasized a need to “manage our competition and systemic rivalry with China responsibly,” according to a statement published Thursday by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and the EU’s European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino.
The two also “Not[ed] the harmful effects of disinformation on democratic societies” and “expressed their readiness to deepen U.S.-EU information sharing on disinformation sponsored or supported by China.” Reuters has a bit more on that front from late last week, here.
From Defense One
Austin Warns Against Over-Hyping Recent Chinese Weapons Tests // Marcus Weisgerber and Tara Copp: The defense secretary also pushed for deeper ties between the Pentagon and technology firms.
Veterans Are Being Recruited by Extremist Groups. How Do We Help Them Say No? // Elizabeth Howe: Training must start while people are on active duty, experts said.
Biden Says a Plan is ‘In Play’ To Deter Russian Aggression in Ukraine // Jacqueline Feldscher: The U.S. president will reportedly speak with Putin by phone in the coming days.
Defense Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense Business Brief: Shutdown averted; Ship-launched hypersonic defenses; Reagan Forum on deck; and more.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt announced his corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, giving U.S. presidents an opening to interfere in Caribbean and Central American nations if those governments descended into economic crisis similar to Venezuela’s predicament two years prior, which summoned a naval blockade from the British, Italian, and German navies. Over the next 20 years, Roosevelt’s “dollar diplomacy” would be used to justify interventions in Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and twice in the Dominican Republic before it was formally replaced by a “good neighbor” policy in 1933.
Ahead of a planned Tuesday summit with his Russian counterpart, U.S. President Joe Biden said he’s working on a “comprehensive and meaningful” plan to deter Russia, as the country masses troops along the Ukrainian border, Defense One’s Jacqueline Feldscher reported Friday. The plan will “make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he will do. That’s in play right now,” Biden said at the White House.
Biden’s remarks came two days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of unspecified “serious consequences” for Russia if it again invades Ukraine; there are “plenty of options” for sanctions against Russia if it does move forward, the Associated Press reported yesterday.
ICYMI: U.S. intelligence estimates suggest 175,000 Russian troops could soon begin a “multi-front” offensive against Ukraine, the Washington Post reported Friday. CNN has a bit more on that over here.
Russian ransomware gangs seem to be living the high life, with many of them apparently working in the 97-floor Federation Tower East, which is Moscow’s tallest skyscraper, Bloomberg first revealed about a month ago.
Why it matters: “That this high-rise in Moscow’s financial district has emerged as an apparent hub of such money laundering has convinced many security experts that the Russian authorities tolerate ransomware operators,” the New York Times’ Andrew Kramer reports today from the Russian capital. “The targets are almost exclusively outside Russia, [security experts] point out, and in at least one case documented in a U.S. sanctions announcement, the suspect was assisting a Russian espionage agency.”
Also officially housed inside that skyscraper: Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Signals and Mass Communications.
Another reason to bring this up: That Biden-Putin virtual meeting set for Tuesday, Dec. 7. Biden reportedly (CNN) pressed Putin to rein in ransomware operators based in Russia during a phone call in early July. Read on at Bloomberg or the Times.
With hypersonic missiles in mind, the U.S. military just added a Long Range Discrimination Radar in Alaska. The Missile Defense Agency is hosting an Initial Fielding Ceremony for the system later today at the Clear Space Force Station, which is located considerably inland at almost 300 miles north of Anchorage. And that means a formal “transition to radar testing, training, and operations” should happen soon.
The Defense Department calls the LRDR "a multi-mission, multi-face radar" that promises to "provide unparalleled ability to simultaneously search, track and discriminate multiple small objects, including all classes of ballistic and, in later iterations, hypersonic missiles, at very long ranges, under continuous operation."
Attending today's event: MDA Director Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, and NORAD Deputy Commander Army Lt. Gen. A.C. Roper.
And lastly today: An Army colonel says two top service officials lied to Congress about the events of January 6, 2021, and he also claims a related U.S. Army inspector general report contains “a series of false and/or misleading statements” that help make up “a revisionist tract worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist.”
Politico obtained the allegations, penned in a 36-page memo (PDF) from Army Col. Earl Matthews, who at the time “was serving as the top attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, then commanding general of the D.C. National Guard,” Politico explains.
Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt are the two alleged to have lied to lawmakers about their counsel that day while Flynn served as the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations and Piatt was director of Army staff. Read over Matthews’ account at Politico, here; or review his full memo here.
Related reading: “Turning outrage into power: How far right is changing GOP,” via the Associated Press, reporting Monday.
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