“Today we are creating a new page for European defence”, declared Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on the first-ever EU live military exercises (MILEX) that are taking place in the Rota Naval base in Southern Spain this week (Euronews, 2023).
On 22 October, NATO unveiled its new strategy regarding the future use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This acknowledges the fact that AI is altering the state of defence and security globally and is likely to lead to more technologically advanced threats to the organisation. As such, NATO plans to keep its technological edge through a joint plan to advance its use of AI in defence and security.
Mid-September, diplomatic and security sources warn the international community that Mali’s military junta was close to making a deal with the Warner Group, the Russian private military company. Indeed, two months ago, French President Macron announced that the French troops would leave the Sahel and that he would put an end to Operation Barkhane. Some leaders and experts made their voices heard to protest against this strategic decision opening a window of opportunity for Russia to extend its influence in the Sahel region. This calls into question the efficacity and effectiveness of the nearly decade-long French operation and the European involvement in this region. Aware of the limits of its strategy, the EU adopted a new integrated approach towards the Sahel in April 2021, focusing more on good governance and a transactional approach to build ties and trust with the local communities. Suppose there was a strong consensus in the scientific and political communities on building and promoting coherent strategic communication in those states. In that case, the Wagner deal proves that the EU is still not putting the concrete actions needed and asked for into practice. Disinformation, interference and mercenaries are at the heart of the Russian strategy to extend its geopolitical influence in Africa. With this new deal, the EU is approaching a critical juncture in the region again. How the EU reacts will determine if the EU Strategy towards the Sahel is failing again.
On the 20th of November 2020, the European Council approved the first PESCO Strategic Review (PSR), an assessment of the first initial phase (2018-2020) of the Permanent Structured Cooperation, and guideline for its second initial phase starting in 2021 and lasting until 2025. The PSR started in December 2019 and continued throughout 2020 at the level of the PESCO Secretariat.
On 24 August, the Swedish Armed Forces issued a press release stating that they were stepping up military red lines because of Russian and Western military activity in the Baltic Sea region.