IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Mar 29, 2022

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed today that she will table the 2022 federal budget on April 7. It’s expected to be a “back to basics” fiscal agenda after two years of extraordinary costs associated with softening the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic but there is some optimism about increased defence spending.

Mar 29, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is presenting a challenge for the former Soviet republic of Khazakstan, says its deputy minister, Roman Vassilenko. He was quoted by a German newspaper March 28 as saying his country, a centre for Russia’s space program, does not want to be on the wrong side of a new “iron curtain” but would welcome foreign companies abandoning Russia.

Mar 29, 2022

U.S. designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “foreign terrorist organization” evidently is at centre stage in ongoing efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear accord, abandoned by the former U.S. administration in 2015. European Union negotiator Enrique Mora met with Iranian officials in Tehran on the weekend and talks focused on whether the U.S. would lift the IRGC’s designation.

Mar 29, 2022

In the aftermath of his country’s test of an ICBM, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is planning to develop more powerful weaponry to give his country “formidable striking capabilities . . . that cannot be stopped.” The official Korean Central News Agency report March 28 suggests additional missile tests and possibly resuming underground nuclear tests which it stopped in 2017.

Mar 28, 2022

Boeing Corp. announced March 28 that Ted Colbert, former head of Boeing Global Services and once the company’s chief information officer, will take as president of its $26-billion Defense, Space and Security division this week. He is to be succeeded at Global Services by Stephanie Pope, chief financial officer at the Commercial Airplanes division. Leanne Caret, who headed the DSS division since 2016, will retire at year’s end, serving in the interim as executive vice president and senior adviser to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun.

Mar 29, 2022

Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project continues to stutter its way to completion with a federal government announcement that while it has chosen the Lockheed Martin F-35 over the Saab Gripen E, it still has to “finalize” details with the U.S. aerospace giant on a procurement estimated to cost $19 billion.

Mar 28, 2022

A $5.8-trillion budget plan released today by the White House reflects growing security and economic concerns at home and abroad, including $773 billion in defence spending, nearly 10 per cent more than eventually approved by Congress for 2021. The administration said the hike reflects ongoing overseas threats such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a growing risk of cyberattacks. Dedicated Veterans Affairs medical care funding also is part of the plan as is a four-per-cent increase to $813.3 billion in the national security envelope

Mar 28, 2022

Having shipped thousands of Javelin and Stinger missile systems to Eastern Europe since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine a month ago, the U.S. is moving to restock. “I think we can do it,” says Doug Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, explaining that it will involve an assessment of the Army’s needs, supply chains, long-lead procurement and ancillary equipment.

Mar 28, 2022

Estonia, with a population of some 1.34 million, has approved a €476-million increase in its military budget, most of it for short- to mid-range air defence systems. The Baltic state’s defence ministry says its overall budget of €476 million will mount to 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product this year.

Mar 28, 2022

The U.S., Canada and 25 other countries have concluded a final planning conference for this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise. The biennial RIMPAC was scaled down to a mostly naval exercise in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic but this year is expected to be a multi-domain affair in July and August in and around Hawaii. Royal Canadian Navy Cmdre Christopher Robinson is deputy commander of the combined task force.

Mar 28, 2022

Most of the participants in the 27-nation Cold Response exercise in northern Norway, where Canada has a small presence of about 10 personnel among the 30,000 troops deployed, evidently have Russia on their mind. “The lesson learned here is (that) you can’t predict what a dictator might do,” says U.S. Marine Corps Gen. David Berger, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “You have to respect the capabilities that they have, and you have to be ready to respond.”.

Mar 25, 2022

A draft Russian resolution which would have called attention to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine without mentioning Russia’s four-week-old invasion was defeated in the UN Security Council March 23 when it was supported only by China.

Mar 25, 2022

Airbus Helicopters has completed 150 launches and recoveries of its autonomous takeoff and landing VSR700 unmanned aerial system. “Tests in real-life conditions constitute a crucial step towards the campaign that we will conduct at sea with the . . . French Navy,” said VSR700 program head Nicolas Delmas. First flown in 2020, it is expected to have a maximum takeoff weight range of up to a tonne when fully operational.

Mar 24, 2022

Allies meeting in Brussels today pledged new sanctions and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but not the more robust military assistance President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for to blunt Russia’s brutal assault and drive the invaders out. The allies met in emergency summits involving NATO, the European Council and the G-7 economic group and while grateful for their help, Zelenskyy reiterated his impassioned plea for far more than has been promised.

Mar 24, 2022

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who died this week at the age of 84, always saw Russian President Vladimir Putin as a grave threat to peace and predicted that his forces would face a strategic disaster and bloody resistance if they were deployed into Ukraine. “Invading Ukraine would ensure Mr. Putin’s infamy by leaving his country diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance,” she wrote on the eve of the invasion four weeks ago even as various western leaders professed uncertainty.

Mar 24, 2022

The advent of spring in Ukraine is causing problems for local officials who are having to deal with dead Russian troops as the frost melts and the ground thaws. A regional governor, calling on residents to help collect and bag the corpses, wants them refrigerated and returned to Russia for identification.

Mar 24, 2022

Japanese and South Korean observers said that North Korea today launched its first ICBM since 2017. The missile reached an altitude of 3,728 miles and travelled 683 miles downrange before crashing into the sea west of Japan. South Korea says it was more powerful that the last ICBM launched by its neighbour.

Mar 23, 2022

Advanced Communications and Electronics Systems of Saudi Arabia and China Electronics Technology Group have set up a joint venture, Aerial Solutions, to design and build military drones in the kingdom. The program is said to include communications, flight-control, camera, radar and wireless-detection systems.

Mar 23, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to attend the next G20 summit, currently set for the end of October in Bali, Indonesia. There had been suggestions that Russia should be barred because of its invasion of Ukraine, but China pushed back, saying “expulsion of Russia from this kind of forum will not help (global) economic problems to be resolved.”

Mar 23, 2022

The NATO Communication and Information Agency wants a say in 5G standardization talks to ensure the latest wireless technology can be used for military as well as civilian. Its interim chief technology officer, Antonio Calderon, says 5G could facilitate new strategic and other capabilities for the alliance.

Mar 23, 2022

Two new Arctic patrol ships being built for the Canadian Coast Guard by Irving Shipbuilding evidently will cost nearly twice as much as their six Royal Canadian Navy counterparts. Struggling with supply chain issues and inflation, as well as meeting CCG-specific design requirements, Irving has told Parliament that it is “working to quantify those challenges in a revised cost estimate.” The latest estimate is $750 million each compared with about $400 million for the RCN vessels.

Mar 23, 2022

A “supply and confidence” agreement with the New Democratic Party is designed to ensure the Liberals’ hold on governance until 2025 in return for commitments to cooperate on key policy areas. Those include climate change, health care spending, indigenous reconciliation, economic growth and efforts to make life more affordable. However, the deal confirmed March 22 does not give the NDP a seat at the cabinet table.

Mar 23, 2022

The prospects of a significant increase in Canada’s defence spending in the next federal budget could be dimming even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Europe after announcing a political partnership with the New Democratic Party. The government had been hinting at more money in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has been pressed to meet a NATO spending target but it’s possible that the expected costs of satisfying NDP priorities could affect defence spending.

Mar 22, 2022

European Union defence ministers have adopted a “Strategic Compass” document designed to enhance the bloc’s defences as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine goes into its fifth week. The document endorsed March 21 replaces a hitherto diplomatic approach with language clearly describing Russia as an aggressor and threat to Europe as a whole. It states that the EU aims “to become a more assertive security and defense actor by enabling more robust, rapid and decisive action, including for the resilience of the Union and our mutual assistance and solidarity.”

Mar 22, 2022

Annoyed by Japanese sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, Russia withdrew from treaty talks and froze joint economic projects related to the disputed Kuril Islands. The two have not formally ended World War II because of their long standoff over the archipelago which was seized by the Soviet Union at the end of the war.

Mar 21, 2022

The U.S. said today that violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar by the country’s military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. The formal declaration by Secretary of State Antony Blinken comes four years after a UN fact-finding mission concluded the military's campaign included “genocidal acts” but the administration of the day called it “ethnic cleansing”, which has no legal definition under international criminal law.

Mar 21, 2022

Retired Army Gen Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff from February 2005 to July 2008, says the federal government is falling well short of providing Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the support needed repel Russian invaders. “Inspired by Zelenskyy, and embarrassed for my country,” Hillier says that sanctions against Russians are “wonderful” but “useless” for Ukrainians and that it is time for NATO to “grow a backbone.”

Mar 21, 2022

Several disputed islands in the South China Sea continue to be the focus of massive Chinese militarization, to the point where the U.S. commander for the region says it poses an increasing threat to all nations in the region. “I think over the past 20 years we’ve witnessed the largest military buildup since World War II,” said Adm John Aquilino, noting that the actions contrasted with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assertion to the contrary.

Mar 21, 2022

An online warning to the Russian people by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger about how they are being lied to about their government’s invasion of Ukraine captured a global audience in no time, including in Russia. Among other things, it challenges President Vladimir Putin’s claim that he wants to “denazify” Ukraine, whose own leader is Jewish. “You started this war and you can stop it,” he told Putin.

Mar 18, 2022

A draft Russian resolution at the UN, ostensibly seeking support for aiding and protecting Ukrainians, prompted Canada to edit it to add that “like other members of the international community, we are gravely concerned” about the invasion. That prompted a Russian envoy to accuse Canada on social media of “kindergarten-level Russophobic libel.” The resolution eventually was not put to a vote March 18.

Mar 18, 2022

Britain is deploying a new medium- range air-defence system and 100 personnel to Poland to bolster its ability to deter what Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said March 17 could be “further aggression from Russia.” Part of a growing NATO commitment to regional defence, the MBDA-developed Sky Sabre replaces Rapier missiles dating to the 1970s and uses a Saab radar and Rafael command-and-control system.

Mar 18, 2022

Effective April 1, the federal government will scrap pre-entry coronavirus testing for all returning travellers who are at least double-vaccinated. “We are now entering into a transition phase of this pandemic,” However, travellers will still need to complete a questionnaire about their vaccination status and travel history.

Mar 18, 2022

Canada is deploying a second RCN frigate to support NATO’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. HMCS Halifax, previously due to sail to the Middle East on a counter-terrorism mission in a few weeks, now is scheduled to leave March 19 to join allied warships in the Baltic region. HMCS Montreal arrived in the eastern Mediterranean last month.

Mar 18, 2022

The Royal Canadian Navy has cancelled at its west coast base in Esquimalt. The decision follows the removal of three trainees from the course and the pending release of a fourth from the military over alleged “harassment and inappropriate behaviour.”

Mar 17, 2022

Anming Hu, a Canadian scientist who worked at the University of Tennessee until his career was derailed by unjustified accusations of having ties with China, has been legally vindicated. However, having returned to his laboratory, he has found himself having to rebuild his work due to missing and damaged equipment.

Mar 17, 2022

Diplomats trying to salvage Iran’s moribund 2015 nuclear agreemen t with the West are reported to be near the cusp of a deal that would bring the U.S. back into the accord and Iran back into compliance with limits on its nuclear program. Officials say that after 11 months of intermittent meetings, only a small number of issues remain to be addressed.

Mar 17, 2022

Echoing similar video appearances before the British and Canadian parliaments, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to the U.S. Congress March 16 to do more to help his besieged country. However, he acknowledged that his call for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone is unlikely to happen because of U.S. fears of starting a European war with Russia.

Mar 16, 2022

Some of the hundreds of Russians captured during their country’s ongoing blitzkreig of Ukraine have been shown on television urging President Vladimir Putin to “stop terror acts” in Ukraine and threatening to “rise up” against him when they are sent home. Their public appearances may be questionable under the Geneva Conventions, which forbid states from causing unnecessary humiliation to prisoners of war, but there were no evident signs they were under duress.

Mar 16, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Defence Minister Anita Anand are among hundreds of Canadians sanctioned by Russia in retaliation for supporting Ukraine. The foreign ministry in Moscow said March 15 that the sanctions mean denial of entry to “top officials, parliamentarians and anti-Russian figures.”

Mar 16, 2022

A U.S. naval engineer and his wife pleaded guilty to espionage charges last month after an undercover operation confirmed that they had tried to sell secret information on nuclear submarine reactor technology to a foreign power. Text messages released in court show that Jonathan and Diana Tebbe, who face prison terms, offered the classified material to Brazil’s military intelligence agency in 2020 rather than to China or Russia. The agency handed over their letter to the FBI.

Mar 15, 2022

In a direct appeal to Canada, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used a video link to a packed Parliament today to press for assistance in helping to right Russia’s invasion. He reiterated an impassioned call for a no-fly zone to be imposed over Ukraine despite repeated NATO refusals over concern that it could spark a wider European war.

Mar 15, 2022

Seaspan Shipyards has launched its new HoloShip facility, an immersive visualization system that enables the Canadian marine industry community to access a virtual reality environment to develop, integrate, test and demonstrate new digital twin capabilities and transform how ships are built, constructed, and maintained.

Mar 14, 2022

Three leaders of three NATO countries travelled by train to Kyiv day to express the EU’s “unequivocal support” for Ukraine even as Russian forces bombarded the capital. In addition to their moral support, the leaders from the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia offered financial assistance.

Mar 14, 2022

Reversing an earlier decision to refuse the Lockheed Martin F-3 as a replacement for its legacy Tornado fighters, Germany confirmed today that it plans to buy up to 35 F-35s by 2030 instead of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said the aircraft would assume the Luftwaffe’s nuclear-weapons mission, carrying U.S. weapons stored in-country.

Mar 14, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine evidently is prompting discussion about the status of the International Space Station, currently manned by U.S. and Russian crews and a lone European. Part of the ISS is built and operated Russia, including the thruster system needed to stabilize its orbit, while the rest is built and operated mainly by the U.S. with visiting crewmembers from Canada and other countries

Mar 14, 2022

Baykar Makina, the major drone manufacturer in Turkey, is accelerating two advanced programs, including what it describes as its first unmanned fighter, a stealth turbofan jet with a 1.5-tonne payload the company hopes to fly next year. Meanwhile it continues to develop another drone with a 280kg payload it says would appeal to buyers in the Far East and would be suitable for smaller aircraft carriers.

Mar 14, 2022

Britain’s high court has refused to allow Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s latest appeal against extradition to the U.S. but the legal challenge isn’t over. A court official said today that the latest appeal did not raise “an arguable point of law,” which means his case reverts to the district court judge who had assessed the extradition request. Home Secretary is then expected to make a final decision.

Mar 13, 2022

In an effort to transform the Army of the future, the UK MoD has embarked on a six-month experiment to examine the feasibility of automating supplies to soldiers. Due to wrap up in April, the six-month project has been focussed on centralized autonomous operation of unmanned systems for combat missions.

Mar 11, 2022

Army Gen Wayne Eyre, the Chief of Defence Staff, said March 10 that while Russia's invasion of Ukraine has re-energized NATO new energy, he worries about the Canadian military’s readiness if Canada is ever drawn into a wider conflict. “That is one of the things that keeps me awake at night,” he said. “The world is getting more dangerous every day and . . . our people need to be ready for it.”

Mar 11, 2022

A Royal Canadian Navy investigation has led to Acting SLt Kevin Vuong, a reservist officer from Toronto, being charged with failing to disclose that he was charged with sexual assault in 2019, a charge which was subsequently dropped. Vuong, who has denied any wrongdoing, was elected to Parliament as a Liberal in 2015 but now sits as an independent.

Mar 10, 2022

The senior advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky belives there have been more than a dozen assassination attempts on his leader, not the “two or three” reported by foreign intelligence sources. Mykhailo Podoliak said Zelenskyy is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main target as Russian troops continued their invasion.

Mar 10, 2022

An RCAF CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter from 103 SAR Squadron at 9 Wing Gander in central Newfoundland crashed at low speed and altitude on a training flight today. The six-member crew of the AgustaWestland aircraft were taken to hospital but four were released. Images show the fuselage on its side, missing its tail and rotor.

Mar 10, 2022

The federal government reportedly has done an about-face on the exportability of surveillance cameras designed by L3Harris Wescam in Hamilton, Ont. The government prohibited further exports 11 months ago after it was learned that Turkey had used the cameras aboard its Bayraktar TB2 armed drones in combat. It’s now understood that at least 30 will be purchased through a $50-million Ukrainian support package announced March 9 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Mar 10, 2022

Ukrainian-Canadian veteran Andriy Tovstiuk used to dread Saturday mornings in Edmonton when he was at Ukrainian school, but the experience planted the seeds of appreciation for his heritage. Today, his Canadian Armed Forces’ experience with Op Unifier, where he helped to train Ukrainian troops, has him thinking about how they and ordinary citizens are resisting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “completely unjustified war.”

Mar 10, 2022

Beijing has seemingly adopted a neutral position on Russia’s war on Ukraine, neither condemning Moscow nor ruling out the possibility of mediation. However, China’s state media’s coverage of the invasion has tended to parrot Russian President Vladimir Putin’s characterization of his bloody assault as nothing more than a “special military operation” and largely echoing Russian state media or information from Moscow.

Mar 10, 2022

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underscores the need for the alliance to “step up” defence spending. “Canada is contributing in many ways to our collective defence, to our shared security,” he said March 9. “Canada is the lead nation in the Baltic region with the (Op Reassurance) battle group . . . but then of course I would love to see all allies to do even more.”

Mar 09, 2022

Politicians, influential oligarchs and media figures are among the Russians sanctioned by Canada and other countries over President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Poland and essentially wage all-out war. Canada has continued to add to its sanctions list in smaller and more thematically-targeted batches three times since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Mar 09, 2022

A proposal by Poland to provide MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters to the Ukrainian air force in its fight against Russian invaders in return for U.S. F-16 replacements evidently is off the table. Calling it not “tenable” a Defense Department explained late March 8 that “the prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance.”

Mar 09, 2022

An ongoing legal fight over when the U.S. can mandate coronavirus vaccinations for military personnel has left the Navy unable to deploy a destroyer because its commanding officer who has refused vaccination cannot be dismissed. In a case which has raised questions about the lines between military good order and discipline, and the legal rights of U.S. citizens, a Florida judge ruled last month that the USN could not discipline the officer.

Mar 09, 2022

Iran is threatening to avenge the deaths of two Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers in a March 7 Israeli air strike in Syria. The foreign ministry said today that holding Israel accountable “is one of the main goals of the resistance in the region.” The strike on an arms depot near Damascus airport was the seventh on Syrian targets this year.

Mar 09, 2022

LGen Eric Fick, the USAF executive officer on the Lockheed Martin F-35 program, said March 8 that testing delays could push a decision on whether to move to full production into 2024. It originally had been scheduled for December 2019 but he said there is “not a lot of leeway” for a decision because critical joint simulation environment testing must precede initial operational test and evaluation phases.

Mar 08, 2022

Prague-based Bohemia Interactive Simulations, which works with 60 militaries worldwide, has been acquired by BAE Systems Inc. The U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems says the $200-million takeover will expand its capabilities and solidifies its systems integration strategy.

Mar 08, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian counterparts today that Canada will stand with the Baltic states against not only the war in Ukraine but also Russia’s cyberattacks on their countries. “You have been living not just with the military threat, not just with the history of occupation, but also, the daily use of propaganda and disinformation to try and undermine the democracy and the values you have,” he said during a visit to Latvia.

Mar 08, 2022

Germany, possibly the most pacifist European power as it spends 1.5 per cent of its GDP on defence, has reversed long-standing policy by shipping weapons to Ukraine and promising to meet NATO's two per cent target. Canada currently spends 1.39 per cent and despite sundry promises, continues to fall short. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau possibly signalled a renewed effort March 7, saying that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the global “context.”

Mar 08, 2022

The U.S. Navy is leading a three-week exercise in the Beaufort Sea, including construction of a camp on an ice pan some 300 kilometres offshore in the Beaufort Sea. Other branches of the U.S. military and Coast Guard are involved along with Canadian and British personnel

Mar 08, 2022

Despite the perception that Russian ground forces’ invasion of Ukraine seems to have stalled after 12 days of intense bombardments, Ukrainian officials say the humanitarian crisis continues to grow. Nearly two million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries and one official says his country expects that “the catastrophe in Ukraine will lead to a catastrophe in the world with food because Ukraine was a major supplier of wheat and grain.”

Mar 07, 2022

The U.S. is playing down the likelihood of Poland transferring some of its Mig-29s to Ukraine in return for the U.S. replacing them with F-16s.

Mar 07, 2022

The number of fighters put on alert by NATO across Europe has nearly doubled amid concerns that Russian operations in international airspace could escalate alongside its war in Ukraine. More than 100 are now on “high alert” at all times to await possible airspace violations compared with 60 in December and an Allied Air Command spokesman said March 4 that “we are maintaining 24/7 patrols in the skies along our eastern borders.”

Mar 07, 2022

Russia today announced yet another ceasefire in its invasion of Ukraine and opened a few humanitarian corridors as a prelude to a third round of talks. However, previous measures have fallen apart as bombardments resumed shortly thereafter; hundreds of thousands of fleeing civilians were forced to shelter March 6 as Russians shelled several cities. Some of the new corridors would funnel Ukrainians toward Russia or Belarus, a prospect rejected by Ukraine.

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