On 18 August, U.S., Japanese and South Korean leaders held a trilateral summit at the Camp David presidential retreat, in Maryland, to agree on a new security pact to expand security and economic cooperation, while establishing a bulwark against the two greatest security threats in the Indo-Pacific region, i.e., North Korea and China. The choice of such setting had a two-fold significance: first, following the footsteps of the US-brokered peace between Israel and Egypt in 1978, it marked the opportunity for Tokyo and Seoul to consolidate a long-meditated rapprochement after decades-long grievances between them. In this line, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol decided, not without domestic discontent, to put past the memories of Japanese occupation in the early 20th century. Secondly, it reflected the relevance attached by President Joe Biden to the initiative, especially given China’s central focus of his foreign policy.
On 24 August, La Tribune reported that France and Italy agreed on proposing to Germany Rome’s inclusion, represented by Leonardo, a prominent Italian defence company, in the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) programme (Cabirol, 2023). The MGCS aims to develop a future land warfare system that includes a Main Battle Tank (MBT) around 2040 (Oestergaard, 2021). This news was unsurprising since Italian participation had already been envisaged (Valpolini, 2020; Arivella & Moran, 2022). Until now, Paris has opposed the inclusion of other states. However, this move reflects an effort to restore balance in the initiative’s power dynamics, taking advantage of the fruitful history of Franco-Italian defence industrial cooperation (Defence Industry Europe, 2023; Meta Défense, 2023).
On August 20, the governments of the Netherlands and Denmark issued a joint statement to announce the intention to deliver F-16s fighter aircraft to Ukraine (Government of the Netherlands, 2023). Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen pledged to send 19 aircrafts in three instalments, while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not specify any number (Sabbagh, 2023). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for his part, claimed they reached an agreement for 42 fighter jets (Sabbagh, 2023).
On 21 August, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a test-firing of strategic cruise missiles from a navy ship, as the state media agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. This event coincided with the annual joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea (Reuters, 2023). Known as the ‘Ulchi Freedom Shield’, these drills are primarily computer-simulated command post exercises designed to enhance coordination and readiness in responding to potential security threats (Kim, 2023).
On 1 August, two Belarusian military helicopters violated Poland’s airspace by shortly flying over Białowieża, a village not far from the border between the two countries (Brzezinski, 2023). The Polish media outlet Onet deemed such incursion a provocation (Chiappa, 2023). The following week, the alert threshold was raised as Minsk held military exercises in the Grodno region, which were simulating real-combat situations, according to the Belarusian Defence Ministry (Teslova, 2023).