The withdrawal of French contingents from Niger marks the end of a decade-long EU military involvement in the Sahel. With Niamey announcing the end of EUMPM and EUCAP Niger, EU presence in the country has met a fate much like the one in Mali and Burkina Faso. Concerns are being raised regarding the future of European troops stationed in other African countries, all the while the United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed on the gradual withdrawal of peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yet, while its prospects seem bleak, ensuring sustainable stability in Africa will likely remain a European priority in the coming years.
It is becoming difficult to analyse the 2022 conflict in Ukraine without also evaluating the political debate in Washington, D.C. This debate is becoming particularly relevant among 'America First' supporters who question the continued financial and military aid provided by the United States. Despite initial bipartisan support for aid packages, dissent has been growing, with critics arguing for fiscal caution rather than continued support. This paper outlines the aims of the ‘America First’ foreign policy. The primary aim of ‘America First’ politicians is that US allies contribute their fair share to collective deterrence in NATO and internationally. This paper highlights that since 2022, many European allies have contributed more than their fair share of defence spending. ‘America First’ politicians also demand that the foreign policy focus on cost-effectiveness. Understanding the specifics of this term is critical to measuring the success of the US aid program to Ukraine.
In May 2021, an increasing number of people started to sporadically cross the European borders from Belarus. These migratory flows, artificially created by state-sponsored actions from President Alexander Lukashenko, mainly affected three European bordering countries: Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. This specific case exemplifies the heavily debated instrumentalisation of migration, or, as specified by the European Commission, the series of events in which “a third country instigates irregular migratory flows into the Union by actively encouraging or facilitating the movement of third-country nationals to the external borders”. It can be easily understood that these actions are perpetrated with the objective of destabilising and asserting pressure on the Member States and the European Union (EU) at large, with the final intention of undermining vital State functions, such as territorial integrity and national security in primis. In the short term, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland have reacted to the growing number of undocumented individuals through stricter border controls, whilst in the long run, the instrumentalisation of migration has translated into a proper humanitarian crisis that has shaken the Union. Whilst the latter had already sanctioned key political and economic figures of the Belarusian regime after the fraudulent presidential victory of 2020, EU countries bordering Belarus have proceeded in different ways, at times even acting against the EU acquis and international law.
This study will critically evaluate defence and international affairs specialist James Bosbotinis’ article (2023) titled ‘The Lessons of the Ukraine War and its Implications for Artillery,’ weighing up its strengths while also providing analysis on the topic of artillery in Ukraine. Bosbotinis’ article is an in-depth and well-sourced study of what NATO and its Western allies more generally can learn from the tactics and weapon systems used by both sides of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Presenting an exhaustive analysis of the use of artillery, it evaluates the complementary nature of higher-end precision or guided systems and cheaper unguided conventional weapons. The nature of the war has highlighted the vulnerabilities that NATO countries could encounter if they were to directly engage against Russia. From munitions stockpiles to the risks associated with having large logistical chains, to the ever-increasing importance of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), artillery seems to have proven itself to be a key player in the waging of modern warfare.
Defence policy, together with foreign and security policy, is one of the areas where states have historically been reluctant to surrender their competences to an inter/supranational entity. As a result, no significant progress was made during the first years of the European Union’s existence, with the fields being categorised as intergovernmental in nature by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty so as to leave countries free to consult themselves without the obligation to coordinate efforts at the EU institutional level and harmonise legislation on the matter. It was not until the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007 (entered into force in 2009) that the EU’s founding documents set up a fully-fledged Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). They did so through the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) pillar in charge of crisis management, inter-state coordination and cooperation in defence matters (Council of the EU, n.d.-a).