Theresa May’s gnomic phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’ echoed around British and international media outlets following the 2016 British referendum to withdraw from the European Union (EU). The ‘British Exit’, or ‘Brexit’, after a process lasting three years and overseen by various Conservative Party leaders, has indeed been achieved. However, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has posed a collective threat to the continent, including the United Kingdom (UK). With a renewed effort to cooperate on security matters, the ‘Brexit means Brexit’ aphorism has seemingly become tainted. With political analysts declaring that this renewed closeness is imperative both for saving Ukraine (Blewett-Mundy, 2024) and for the freedom and security of the UK and its EU neighbours (Ricketts, 2024), it is no surprise that there is an interest in analysing the increased momentum in EU-UK security cooperation. In this context, exploring how and why the UK and the EU have resumed their security cooperation is topical.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 immeasurably disturbed the European security landscape greatly fuelling fear of Russia's neo-imperialistic ambitions, particularly in the former Soviet sphere of influence. In Eastern Europe, especially in the Baltic states and Poland, these fears have grown steadily since Russia's hybrid forms of aggression against Ukraine in 2014. In particular, Poland has felt threatened by various hybrid threat scenarios since the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, including a potential attack on its own territory. Poland's response to the war in Ukraine has been and continues to be influenced by both geographical and historical considerations. With a border shared with Russia's exclave, Kaliningrad, and the escalating tensions since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the fear of a Russian invasion through the Suwalki Gap, a crucial Polish-Lithuanian border, emerged as a concerning potential contingency since the collapse of the Eastern bloc. As a result, Poland has decided to act decisively. In concrete terms, this has materialised as the massive expansion of its defence forces and staunch support for its attacked neighbour.
Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, expectations of a stable, predictable, and indivisible European security order have seemingly failed to materialise. Given the implications of the war, debates surrounding nuclear weapons returned to public scrutiny after long being confined to a niche of experts and policymakers. Arguably, the conflict triggered the most serious nuclear crisis since the end of the Cold War, which is exacerbated by the allusive wording of Russian officials and pundits regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Anxiety about Moscow’s first strike against Kyiv or its allies slowed down support for the invaded country. As such, this InfoFlash considers the implications of Russian nuclear posture for Ukraine and Europe, analysing the structure of Russian nuclear forces and doctrine, and their relations with Moscow’s strategic goals.
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.
From 13 to 17 September 2023, Kim Jong-un embarked on his first visit to a foreign leader in over four years as he travelled to the Russian Far East to meet Vladimir Putin. This meeting symbolised a convergence of interests in opposing the U.S.-led Western order from which both countries find themselves increasingly isolated. Hence, although the summit did not produce an explicit statement of what was discussed or agreed on at the surface level, the meeting sparked fears of a potential arms deal between the two countries, which could well contribute to revitalising Putin’s war machine in Ukraine (Ye Hee Lee & Bolton, 2023).