Controversies around the EU-funded Senegalese security forces

On 29 February 2024, EU-funded Senegalese security forces violently suppressed pro- democracy protests (Nielsen, 2024). Controversy ensued as the Groupes d’Action Rapide – Surveillance et Intervention au Sahel (GAR-SI Sahel) security forces, initially trained to combat cross-border crime along Senegal’s border with Mali, were being utilised for domestic purposes (Popoviciu & Bautista, 2024).

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Sweden Strengthens Military Ties with France

On 31 January 2024, Sweden and France signed an agreement to deepen their partnership, engage in strategic dialogue on security and defence issues, expand cooperation in the field of research and development and advance their overall defence capabilities (Government of Sweden , 2024b). The cooperation extends to their armament industries and includes the production of essential supplies such as ammunitions, propellants, and explosives, thus rendering the European defence technological and industrial base more innovative, competitive, and resilient (Government of Sweden , 2024b). It is worth mentioning that France-Sweden defence cooperation is well- established, dating back to September 2021, when the two issued a joint declaration of intent concerning intensified defence cooperation in international operations and material provision (Government of Sweden , 2024a). Furthermore, in April 2023, they signed a framework arrangement to develop a common, improved version of a medium-range missile, paving the way for further collaboration in anti-tank missiles (Shepard News Team, 2024).

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The UK’s Mobilisation since the War in Ukraine: The Catalyst for Renewed UK-EU Defence Relations?

In January 2024, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of General Staff of the British Army stated that “Ukraine really matters" (Sanders, 2024). In his address at the International Armoured Vehicles exhibition in London, General Sanders emphasised the significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on the future. The General was referencing historical failures to understand crises’ consequences and previous failures in averting conflicts and cautioned against repeating history by failing to learn from it and stressed Ukraine’s geopolitical importance. In the same speech, the general calls for a substantial increase in the British army's size, aiming to nearly double its current capacity. This initiative is part of the UK military's broader strategy to address a persistent recruitment shortage that has diminished its manpower over time (Secretary of State for Defence, 2021). Additionally, he emphasised the significance of traditional mobilisation while stressing the necessity for ordinary British citizens to be ready for a level of civic involvement similar to World War mobilisation efforts. General Sanders is not the only notable figure alerting the British public that there are dangers to come. Grant Shapps, the UK Secretary of Defence, delivered a repurposed version of former US president George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” (Bush, 2021) speech in January 2024, remarking that the world has transitioned "from a post-war era to a pre-war era" (Shapps, 2024). This InfoFlash delves into the recent speeches delivered by Sanders and Shapps, which have sparked numerous news articles centred around military conscription in the UK and the potential for its reinstatement. Additionally, this paper also explores broader defence topics, examining the evolving recent dynamics between the UK and the EU in the realm of defence cooperation.

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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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EU Mission Aspides to Secure Trade in the Red Sea: An Opportunity for Decisive EU Foreign Policy and Interoperability or Doomed to Failure?

The military conflict that broke out in Gaza in October 2023 spread when, out of self-proclaimed solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (BBC, 2024), the Yemenite Shia Islamist Houthis began attacking civilian merchant ships in the Red Sea at the end of 2023. Due to Yemen's geopolitically significant location at the entrance to the Red Sea, the attacks led to a massive decline in trade through the corridor, which is of crucial importance for Europe. The US responded decisively in December 2023 with the naval mission Operation Prosperity Guardian, however, in contrast, the EU's own response, designated Operation Eunavfor Aspides, was slow to get off the ground. Notwithstanding, now that the EU’s plans have been finalised, this InfoFlash aims to analyse the EU mission with regard to its operational realisation, its creation and mandate, what exactly the EU can achieve through it, and its risks and challenges. Moreover, this InfoFlash will delve into the international consequences of the mission, and how it may shape the perception of the EU on the world stage. In this respect, the mission has the potential to provide a wide array of opportunities to the Union. For instance, the EU could seize the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it is an internally united global player who is prepared to effectively carry out risky missions in order to fulfil its foreign policy responsibilities by promoting security and stability in the world.

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