EU’s presence in the Arctic

The EU presence in the Arctic region is acquiring decisive importance in terms of security and defence, especially since the escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war. However, not only geopolitical rivalries are an important change, but also the opportunism of the effect of global warming and the increase in commercial interest in natural resources. The joint communication of 2021, October 13, A stronger EU engagement for a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous Arctic, proposed that the EU pursue a secure, stable, sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous Arctic region. There is a need to adopt a strengthened maritime security policy, especially in the areas of economic development, free trade, transport, and energy security.

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The Expansion of the European Sky Shield Initiative

The European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) is a German-led project to build and develop a ground-based integrated European air defence system. This includes anti-ballistic missile capabilities to protect European air space. The initiative was launched in 2022 to address NATO and the European Union’s “recognised European shortfall” in the realm of air and missile defence systems following the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Barrie and Giegerich, 2023). Since then, it has expanded and, as of February 2024, twenty-one European states have participated in the initiative (Höller, 2024). Most recently, the initiative expanded to include Aegean neighbours Greece and Türkiye on 15 February 2024.

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Deciphering the Novelty Franco-German Security Deal with Ukraine

Last Friday, February 16th 2024 saw the establishment of a milestone in Franco-Ukrainian relations in the form of the ratification of a bilateral security and relief agreement at the Élysée Palace in Paris.  French President Emmanuel Macron signed an accord with President Zelensky, promising large-scale funding, the delivery of offensive weaponry and the exchange of intelligence, while also discussing the production of electronic defence and drone systems (Ratz et al., 2024). This happened only a few hours after Zelensky signed a quasi-identical deal with German chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, as the Ukrainian leader had done in January with Great Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Fornusek, 2024). Thus, in a show of a slowly nascent, but steadily emerging European defence cooperation effort, the Franco-German couple pledged complementary financial relief, the delivery of heavy armament and offensive weaponry, additionally paving the way for the exchange and mutual consultation of military intelligence.

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The Potential Rise of Russia’s Nuclear Space Arsenal

As the rhetoric of Russian officials continues to fueltensionsby fostering verbal escalations,the last weeks have seenan increased fear of themilitarisation of spaceby the Kremlin,against the backdrop of European military leaders’ general doubts about the West’s readiness to assist and supply Kyiv sustainably in its continued defence efforts.On 17 February 2024, at the Munich Security Conference, Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced his concerns regardingalleged Russianplans to install satellite-disrupting technology as well as unconventional weaponry in outer space (New York Times, 2014). Such claims, if proven to be true, would constitute a clear breach of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the non-militarisation of outer space and potentially harm the worldwide transmission of data to global positioning systems (GPS) (Starling and Massa, 2024).This would,in turn, constitute a novel transgression ofinternational lawwhich,inthe absence of deterring sanctioning tools, would likely once again result ina loss of credibility for the international system (The Conversation, 2024b).Until then, the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty had established a common framework for the prohibition of nuclear testing and stationing of unconventional missiles in space (The Conversation, 2024a).The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies reported that Russia allegedly went ahead with testing anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons as far back as 2021 against formerly operable Soviet space satellites, while simultaneously planning and carrying out routine exercises of cyber- and jamming attacks against neighbouring spatial equipment (BBC, 2024).

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The U.S. is Discontinuing FARA to Invest More in Reconnaissance UAVs. Europe was Already Ahead.

The war in Ukraine is teaching us the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in reconnaissance because they are cheaper to produce and run than conventional military aircraft. UAVs have played a significant role in Ukrainian intel gathering. This signal has been picked up by the military industry in the United States and changes have been made accordingly. On the other side of the Atlantic, Europe already made the same move in 2019.

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