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MS Daily Brief-en

The Maritime Security Forum is pleased to provide you with a product, in the form of a daily newsletter, through which we present the most relevant events and information on naval issues, especially those related to maritime security and other related areas. It aims to present a clear and concise assessment of the most recent and relevant news in this area, with references to sources of information. We hope that this newsletter will prove to be a useful resource for you, providing a comprehensive insight into the complicated context of the field for both specialists and anyone interested in the dynamics of events in the field of maritime security.

Daily appearance Monday-Saturday 10 AM (GMT +2)


BREAKING: IDF uncovers 100 underground tunnels at Rafah; Hezbollah tensions escalate | TBN Israel-Day255   1

Update from Ukraine | Crazy Russian losses! Ukraine defended Vuhledar again! 1

Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves Israeli war cabinet-The Guardian,Mon 17 Jun 2024 16.26. 1

Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves Israel’s war cabinet – as it happened-The Guardian,15h ago, 16.00 CEST  2

Trump threatens to end US military aid to Ukraine ‘before he officially takes over’ the White House-Publication date: 17.06.2024 20:45. 3

Switzerland to discuss outcome of global peace summit with non-participating countries, mainly Russia and China-Publication date: 17.06.2024 15:27. 4

The US has found an ally in Africa to counter the Russian and Chinese presence in Sudan. Why Sudan is so important to the West-Publication date: 17.06.2024 21:37. 6

Ukraine war briefing: Fighting Russian advance in Kharkov-The Guardian,Tuesday 18 June 2024 03.36   9

Vladimir Putin to visit North Korea seeking further military support – The Guardian,Mon 17 Jun 2024 18.51   11

NATO reminds Russia of alliance’s nuclear power. Jens Stoltenberg: We need to show our nuclear arsenal to send a direct warning-Update: 17.06.2024 12:48 | Publication date: 17.06.2024 12:17. 12

INS Komemiyut LSV (Landing Ship) has arrived in Israel and will be operationally integrated into the Israeli Navy. 13

Navy faces most intense sea battle since WWII with Houthis. 14

Navy rescues crew of merchant ship hit by Houthis in Red Sea – Military Times – June 16, 2024. 17

Turkish corvettes for Malaysia – Live Journal -16 June 2024. 19

Greek coastguard threw migrants overboard and they died, witnesses say – BBC – 17 June 2024. 20

Lockheed Martin SPY-7 radar hits milestone for Spain’s F-110 frigate – Military News – June 17, 2024   24

Russian nuclear submarine ‘Kazan’ ends visit to US yard; Northern naval fleet returns – EurAsian Times – June 17, 2024. 26

BREAKING: IDF uncovers 100 underground tunnels at Rafah; Hezbollah tensions escalate | TBN Israel-Day255

Update from Ukraine | Crazy Russian losses! Ukraine defended Vuhledar again!

Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves Israeli war cabinet-The Guardian,Mon 17 Jun 2024 16.26

The move is an apparent rejection of the far right and an attempt to tighten control over decision-making on Hamas and Hezbollah

Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the Israeli war cabinet overseeing the Gaza conflict, pushing back his far-right allies who wanted seats and apparently trying to tighten his control over decision-making on the fighting with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah across the Lebanese border.

The prime minister announced the move to ministers, saying the war cabinet was set up as part of an agreement in which moderate politician Benny Gantz and his National Unity party joined an emergency coalition last year.

The disbanding of the war cabinet was confirmed by Israeli officials amid growing discontent over the conduct of the war in Gaza and calls by anti-government groups for a week of daily protests.

David Mencer, a spokesman for the prime minister’s office, said the war cabinet was a “precondition” for Gantz, a former army chief and defense minister, to join a unity government. He added: “So with Mr Gantz leaving the government, there is no need for a cabinet. His duties will be taken over by the security cabinet.”

Netanyahu reportedly told ministers that the war cabinet was no longer needed following Gantz’s resignation a week ago. Gantz, one of the members of the war cabinet, left the coalition along with Gadi Eisenkot, one of the three observers on the body.

Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations on the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, who were part of the war cabinet.

The dissolution of the war cabinet is unlikely to have a significant impact on the conflict – decision-making will move back to the security cabinet – but the political ramifications may be more significant.

The move appears to be a deliberate rejection of Netanyahu’s far-right allies in the coalition, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has been trying to win a seat in the war cabinet since Gantz’s departure after complaining that he was left out of key decisions.

Reports in the Hebrew-language press have suggested that Netanyahu intends to make key decisions in meetings with his own advisers, excluding Ben-Gvir, before presenting them to the security cabinet.

The move comes amid divisions of opinion between Netanyahu and senior Israel Defense Forces commanders.

According to Israeli media reports on Monday, Netanyahu told the regular Sunday meeting of the full cabinet that “in order to achieve the goal of eliminating Hamas capabilities, [he] made decisions that were not always acceptable to the military echelon,” but added: “We have a country with an army and not an army with a country.”

Netanyahu’s moves suggest an increase in confidence as the prime minister’s poll numbers have improved since Gantz’s departure, which caused his poll numbers to drop significantly.

While Netanyahu has been under pressure from the Biden administration to maintain the war cabinet, which was seen as a more moderate forum, some analysts saw the move as preserving the Israeli prime minister’s desire to continue the conflict, even as he sidelined Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

The small war cabinet has been a source of friction between Netanyahu and others, including over the issue of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and other groups.

However, the war cabinet has also functioned effectively, meeting numerous times since Hamas’ surprise attack on communities on Israel’s southern border with Gaza on 7 October.

Immediately after the dissolution of the war cabinet, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth speculated that some key decisions will now go to an expanded cabinet, sometimes numbering 50, in which more hawkish voices dominate, giving Netanyahu more political cover for continuing the conflict.

Groups opposed to Netanyahu’s conduct of the war have begun a week of daily demonstrations demanding a ceasefire, an agreement to secure the release of hostages and elections.

Although demonstrations against the wartime prime minister have not yet reached the scale of pre-war protests, Saturday’s weekly demonstration in Tel Aviv drew larger numbers than usual. Those at the rally listened to a recorded message from recently rescued hostage Andrey Kozlov, who called on the government to strike a deal to secure the release of other prisoners.

“Almost every Saturday night [his Gaza captors] showed us rallies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We didn’t count how many people were there, but we saw many,” Kozlov said.

Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves Israel’s war cabinet – as it happened-The Guardian,15h ago, 16.00 CEST

Summary of the day …

Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved Israel’s war cabinet overseeing the Gaza conflict, rejecting far-right allies who sought seats and apparently acting to consolidate his control over decision-making on fighting Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The prime minister announced the move to ministers, saying the war cabinet was set up as part of an agreement by which moderate politician Benny Gantz and his National Unity party joined an emergency coalition last year and that it was no longer necessary now that Gantz had left the government.

The disbanding of the war cabinet was confirmed by Israeli officials who briefed on condition of anonymity, amid growing discontent over the conduct of the war in Gaza and calls from anti-government groups for a week of daily protests. Two highways were reportedly blocked Monday morning in Israel by protesters, and a rally outside the Knesset is planned for Monday evening

US special envoy Amos Hochstein was in Israel for talks with Netanyahu, Gantz, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and opposition leader Yair Lapid. Lapid said on social media, “Instead of dissolving the war cabinet, the government should be dissolved.”

Unrwa head Philippe Lazzarini said the agency has not seen a change in its position on the ground since the Israeli military announced it would make tactical breaks in its actions to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. He told the press that “operationally, nothing has changed yet. So far, I don’t see anything that qualifies for the definition of a pause.”

Spokesman David Mencer said Israel had seen no sign that Hamas would stop fighting even during the tactical pauses that the Israeli military said would occur during its ground offensive in Gaza.

The Palestinian Wafa news agency reports that one person was detained by Israeli security forces at a military checkpoint in the Jenin camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

Trump threatens to end US military aid to Ukraine ‘before he officially takes over’ the White House-Publication date: 17.06.2024 20:45

Photo credit: Donald J. Trump – Facebook

Former US Republican President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election to the office, described Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski as “the best salesman” among politicians and suggested that if he wins the election in November, he could cut off substantial US aid the Ukrainian president has received from US Democratic President Joe Biden, reports the Kiev Independent.

“I think Zelenski is probably the best salesman who ever lived among politicians. Every time he comes to our country, he leaves with $60 billion,” Trump remarked, as quoted by Agerpres, at a campaign rally in Detroit on 15 June.

“Now, here’s the beautiful part! He just left four days ago with $60 billion, comes home and announces he needs another $60 billion. This never ends,” Trump added, actually referring to the nearly $61 billion in military and financial aid to Ukraine approved by the US Congress in April after a long dispute between Republicans and Democrats.

But “I will fix this as president-elect before I take over the White House,” promised the Republican candidate, who has also said in the past that if he becomes US president again, he could end US military aid to Ukraine and quickly impose peace between the country and Russia. He also claimed that if he had not lost the election in 2020, the war triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 would not exist.

Switzerland to discuss outcome of global peace summit with non-participating countries, mainly Russia and China-Publication date: 17.06.2024 15:27

Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo Credit: Kremlin

The Swiss government plans to discuss the outcome of the global peace summit with countries that did not participate, including Russia and China, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said on 16 June. As is well known, Switzerland hosted the inaugural peace summit for Ukraine on 15-16 June, an event attended by around 100 countries and organisations. Russia was not invited to attend, while China declined the invitation.

“We have an embassy in Moscow and every two weeks we communicate with the Russian foreign minister and we also intend to discuss the results of this conference with Russia,” Cassis told a press conference at the end of the summit.

The minister said Switzerland also intends to discuss the results with other nations “whose doors we have knocked on but they have not answered, such as China”.

According to Ukrainian representatives, the conference participants aim to formulate a joint peace plan to be presented to a Russian representative during a second summit, also to be held in Switzerland.

Putin could be received in Switzerland

The Swiss leadership has previously said that a peace process without Russian participation is “unthinkable” and insisted on inviting Russia.

Vladimir Putin could thus be allowed to attend this potential second global peace summit, despite the arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) exactly a year ago.

Asked whether Switzerland would be obliged to arrest Putin, Swiss President Viola Amherd said that exceptions could be made for the Russian president to attend in person.

“If his (Putin’s) presence is necessary for the conference to take place, then an exception can be made. In the case of peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, this can be such an exception,” Amherd told reporters, adding that “a decision has to be taken by the Swiss government.”

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis echoed Amherd’s comments, saying exceptions should be made in conjunction with the ICC.

“It is possible under our laws. Of course we have to do it together with the ICC, but as a host country, we can make an exception to that,” Cassis said.

Recall that on 17 March 2023, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official who allegedly oversaw the forced deportations of at least tens of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia and Russian-occupied territories.

All 123 countries that are members of the ICC and have ratified the Rome Statute, which sets out the crimes within the court’s jurisdiction, are obliged to respond to the court’s request to arrest Putin.

A number of countries have demanded that Russia attend the peace summit, although Russia has ruled out participation since mid-March.

After the conclusion of the first peace summit, President Volodimir Zelenski announced that the second peace summit “should lay the foundations for lasting and just peace”.

Putin’s conditions are hard to accept

In all likelihood, Russia will not be interested in attending the next summit either. The Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed the inaugural conference as unnecessary and stressed that it will not attend even if invited.

Speaking the day before the summit, Putin laid out his own conditions for peace talks, namely Ukraine’s complete withdrawal from the Donetsk, Lugansk, Herson and Zaporizhzhia regions, including the territories in these regions currently controlled by Ukraine.

Ukraine tried to persuade China to attend the summit, but Beijing rejected the invitation, arguing that its conditions for participation had not been met. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said China declined the invitation, most likely at the request of the Kremlin.

Instead, Beijing has promoted its own alternative peace plan, first presented by China and Brazil in May, calling for a conference recognised by both Ukraine and Russia.

The US has found an ally in Africa to counter the Russian and Chinese presence in Sudan. Why Sudan is so important to the West-Publication date: 17.06.2024 21:37

Photo source: BRITANNICA

The conflict in Sudan still casts a shadow over neighbouring countries and big power interests, as the war taking place in Sudan cannot be separated from all the conflicts in the region and the Middle East and the conflict of interests and influence on the African continent.

According to many analysts and experts, the United States and Western countries are using all their instruments in Sudan in order to resist the growing Russian and Chinese influence in Africa, even at the expense of the lives and stability of the Sudanese people. Washington has spared no effort, investing all its instruments in Sudan to achieve its interests, including political personalities, sending mercenaries or using and investing in the humanitarian organisations’ files.

Sudan’s strategic importance

A number of factors and data have combined to increase the strategic importance of an Arab and African country like Sudan. Perhaps the most important of these factors are the following:

Firstly, Sudan’s strategic location in the north-eastern part of the African continent has played a fundamental role in strengthening its position as a strategic bridge and considering it as the most suitable entry to sub-Saharan Africa through the Red Sea Gate, considering that it is a link connecting the north and south of the continent and a central gateway to the east, centre and west of the African continent, especially as it borders many important countries: Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic.

Secondly, Sudan, which is the second largest country in Africa after the secession of the South in 2011, overlooks the Red Sea with a coastline of about 720 kilometres and has a strategic seaport, Port Sudan, which is the only seaport for Sudan. Through it, trade and shipping move in and out of the country. It is also located in the middle of the Red Sea coast, which means that it is situated near strategic choke points in international trade (Suez Canal and Bab el-Mandab Strait).

Thirdly, Sudan enjoys a remarkable abundance of natural resources, the most important of which are uranium, gold, cobalt, oil and others, ranking third in gold production in Africa over the last five years.

It can therefore be said that there are a number of interests and incentives, both temporary and strategic, that have been behind the increased international focus on Sudan in recent times.

In the light of successive political and military developments in Sudan, the ongoing war between the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese army emerges as an important milestone that deserves careful consideration. These conflicts are evident in a growing series of events taking place in the country, reflecting an intense competition for power and influence in managing Sudan’s future.

 Strengthening relations with Russia

In the aftermath of the war, Sudanese government leaders are moving to strengthen relations with Russia, amid objections from Sudanese political components, notably the Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces “Taqaddum”, which is accused by the Sudanese Attorney General’s Office of receiving American support in the region.

In addition, Lieutenant General Yasser Al-Atta, deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces and a member of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, announced that he was not opposed to granting Russia a military base in the Red Sea, pointing to an agreement with Russia for logistical cooperation in exchange for providing arms to the Sudanese army.

In a related development in recent days, the Sudanese ambassador to Russia, Mohamed Siraj, confirmed Sudan’s commitment to building a Russian naval base in the Red Sea in press statements to the Russian agency Sputnik, explaining that the problem facing the project is “only procedural” and that it is up to both sides to implement it.

Siraj said that Khartoum would not abandon its commitment to build a Russian naval base in the Red Sea, explaining that the base is “a logistical foothold in the Red Sea, and the two countries have signed the agreement under which it will be built, which means that it is their duty to implement the project”, expressing hope “to further strengthen relations between the two countries”.

In the same context, the Deputy Chairman of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Malik Aqar Air, visited Russia on 3 June, leading a high-level delegation that included the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Minerals. Aqar’s visit comes amid continued Sudanese promises to join the agreement to establish a Russian naval base on the Red Sea in Port Sudan.

Following a visit to Sudan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that the agreement between Moscow and Khartoum on the establishment of a logistics centre for the Russian Navy in Sudan is currently at the ratification stage.

Ethiopia… title of US plan to tackle Russian influence

According to a senior diplomatic source, the United States is responding to Russia’s growing influence in the region by using its influence over Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to send Ethiopian mercenary forces in support of the Rapid Support Forces to forcibly overthrow Al-Burhan’s rule after the US political failure in the region, in a secret agreement between the White House and Addis Ababa.

According to the same source, the agreement between America and Ethiopia includes two basic Ethiopian conditions, the first of which is for Abiy Ahmed to get American support on the issue of Somaliland secession, through which Ethiopia is trying to reach the Gulf of Aden, and the second is the restoration of Ethiopian control over the disputed Fashaga lands.

In return, Abiy Ahmed will provide support to the Rapid Support Forces with mercenaries and weapons and establish logistical routes to provide the Rapid Support Forces with the weapons needed to overthrow Burhan’s rule.

Abiy Ahmed, in cooperation with Musa Bihi Abdi, the president of breakaway Somaliland, has offered to provide navigation in the Red Sea, motivating the White House to make Somaliland a “Taiwan” in Africa.

Somali President Musa Bihi Abdi said the Ethiopia agreement “will allow Somaliland to support international efforts to ensure freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea,” where ships have been repeatedly attacked in recent months by Houthi rebels.

Ethiopian interests

African affairs analyst Abdul Rahman Kan stressed that what motivates Abiy Ahmed to accept the US demands are the many interests Ethiopia can achieve through this agreement with Washington.

At the forefront is Washington’s recognition of the secession of Somaliland, which occupies a very important strategic location and whose secession Ethiopia has always dreamed of and sought, in order to control it and obtain the very important Somali port of Zuweila, and thus a seaport, given that Ethiopia has no access to the sea or ocean.

In addition to the above, Ethiopia will try to control larger areas of the Nile River and regain control of the disputed town of Al-Fashqa on the Sudanese border.

What confirms Dr Abdel Rahman Kan’s hypothesis about the Ethiopian president’s strong desire to control Somaliland and the port of Zuweila is the information reported earlier by many media outlets about Abiy Ahmed’s offer to Washington of his readiness to open a front against the rebels in Yemen and even to send forces to fight them and prepare to protect Israeli shipping, all in exchange for obtaining official international recognition of Ethiopia’s legitimate control over the port of Zuweila and the Somaliland region.

Commenting on this information, Sana’a Studies Center analyst Majid Al-Madhaji confirmed that the Ethiopian president has been very absorbed in his imagination and has strayed from reality, as it is very difficult for Ethiopian forces to resolve the Red Sea conflict for many geographical and military reasons.

It is worth noting that in 2019, the Russian and Sudanese sides signed an agreement on the establishment of a logistics support centre for the Russian navy in Port Sudan, which is expected to house up to 300 Russian soldiers and supply ships with fuel.

It is clear that Washington has begun to intensify its moves towards Sudan, with the aim of gaining more influence to strengthen its presence in the region and reduce the growing presence of its competitors.

Ukraine war briefing: Fighting Russian advance in Kharkov-The Guardian,Tuesday 18 June 2024 03.36

Putin thanks North Korea for support ahead of visit; Russian missile attack injures 22 in Poltava region. What we know on day 846

A Russian occupation official said Monday that fighting has engulfed parts of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkov region, and the Ukrainian military has sent men and equipment to the disputed area. “Fighting continues in the Kharkov sector. The fiercest clashes are in Vovchansk and near Lyptsy,” Vitaly Ganchev told Russian news agencies.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainian forces have been gradually pushing Russian troops out of parts of Kharkov they have been fighting over since May. His top commander, Oleksandr Syrskyi, predicted that the Russians would try to advance pending the arrival in Ukraine of sophisticated Western equipment, including US-made F-16 fighter jets. Syrskyi also said Russian forces are concentrating their firepower in the Donetsk region, especially on the Pokrovsk front.

Oil depots were set ablaze after a drone attack Tuesday morning in the city of Azov in Russia’s southwestern Rostov region, its governor said. “In Azov, oil product tanks caught fire following a drone [UAV] attack. According to preliminary data, there are no casualties. The Emergency Situations Ministry unit has organised the extinguishing of the open fire. The head of the regional department of civil protection and emergency situations went to the scene.” Azov and its ports are located on the Don River, which flows into the Sea of Azov on the border between Ukraine and Russia.

On Monday, a Russian rocket attack on the Poltava region in central-eastern Ukraine injured 22 people, including three children, and damaged homes and power lines, leaving more than 55,000 consumers without electricity, the regional governor said. Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said the attack was carried out with an X-59 cruise missile.

Vladimir Putin said Russia greatly appreciates that North Korea “strongly supports Russia’s special military operations taking place in Ukraine”. North Korea is accused by Ukraine’s allies of illegally selling arms to Vladimir Putin’s regime. A Pentagon report in May said analysis of the debris showed Russia was using North Korean ballistic missiles. North Korea called such claims “absurd”, but thanked Russia for using its veto at the UN in March to effectively end monitoring of sanctions violations just as UN experts were beginning to investigate alleged arms transfers.

Putin, who travelled to Pyongyang on Tuesday, said the two countries were “actively developing the many-sided partnership”. North Korea is subject to UN sanctions over its banned weapons programmes. The trip “will take bilateral cooperation to a higher level with our joint efforts, and this will contribute to the development of mutual and equal cooperation between Russia and the DPRK,” Putin wrote in an editorial, according to North Korea’s propaganda news agency KCNA.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Putin’s visit to North Korea showed that Russia’s war effort in Ukraine has become “dependent” on authoritarian leaders. “Their closest friends and biggest supporters of the Russian war effort – the war of aggression – [are] North Korea, Iran and China,” Stoltenberg said. Stoltenberg demanded that China should bear the consequences if it continues to support Russia. US officials say China is undertaking a major export effort to rebuild Russia’s defence industry. China says it conducts normal trade with Russia and does not send lethal aid to the conflict.

Denmark says it is exploring ways to stop a phantom tanker fleet carrying Russian oil through the Baltic Sea. Since Western countries imposed a price cap, Russia has relied on often ageing tankers based and insured outside the West. Other Baltic Sea states and EU members have also been involved in tackling the “international problem” posed by the ghost fleet, said Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the Danish foreign minister. Imposing restrictions on ships passing through the straits would be unacceptable and could violate treaty obligations, said Russia’s ambassador to Denmark, Vladimir Barbin.

Former Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko presented shell-shattered seats at the Kharkov stadium built for Euro 2012 in Munich on Monday as cheering Ukrainian fans vowed to continue fighting the Russian invasion. In a central square in Munich, Ukrainian refugees and supporters who have been driving 25 hours from Ukraine looked at blue and yellow chairs hours before their team plays its first Euro 2024 match against Romania.

Vladimir Putin to visit North Korea seeking further military support – The Guardian,Mon 17 Jun 2024 18.51

Russian leader to hold talks with Kim Jong-un with shared aim of expanding security and economic cooperation

Vladimir Putin will travel to North Korea as he seeks continued military support for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine from one of the world’s most isolated nations.

In his first visit to North Korea since 2000, Putin will meet Kim Jong-un for one-on-one talks in Pyongyang as the two leaders pledge to expand economic and security cooperation in defiance of Western sanctions against both countries.

Putin is expected to arrive in North Korea late Tuesday, reports Agence France-Presse, with a large entourage of ministers and government advisers, including those in charge of the Russian military and arms procurement. They include his new defence minister, Andrey Belousov, and Denis Manturov, his main deputy prime minister overseeing the defence sector.

Kim Jong-un and Putin composite image

“The schedule is very busy,” said Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov. “A considerable amount of time will be devoted to informal contacts between the leaders, as these negotiations … will contain the most important and sensitive questions.”

It is a rare trip abroad for Putin, who has limited his international travel to friendly countries since launching the full-scale invasion and becoming the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for the mass deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

North Korea supplied Russia with millions of Soviet-era artillery shells as a crucial lifeline to support Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers last month that the shipments of ammunition and missiles, as well as Iranian drones, have helped the Russian military “get back on its feet.”

North Korea has also supplied Russia with ballistic missiles and electronic equipment used in the war effort.

In return, Russia is believed to have provided aid for North Korea’s satellite programme, as well as other weapons, economic aid and diplomatic support. Kim visited Russia’s Far East last year, meeting Putin in Vladivostok during a trip that took him to a factory that produces modern fighter jets and the Vostochny cosmodrome.

The White House said Monday that Washington is concerned about closer ties between Russia and North Korea.

“We’re not concerned about [Putin’s] trip,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday. “What we are concerned about is the deepening relationship between these two countries.”

Kirby said the concern is not just that “North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets, but because there could be a reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean peninsula.”

In an article written Tuesday for the Korean Central News Agency, Putin praised North Korea for “strongly supporting” Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Putin wrote that he intends to raise relations with North Korea to a higher level and pledged his unwavering support, KCNA reported Tuesday, ahead of his planned visit to the country.

Citing a Kremlin aide, Russian agencies said Monday that the two leaders would sign “important documents” during the visit.

These could include a “comprehensive strategic partnership treaty” that will outline future cooperation and address “security issues,” Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying.

But experts said that in reality, any new agreement would focus on boosting defence cooperation between the two countries.

“Moscow and Pyongyang want to take advantage of the perception that their ties are long-term and increasingly integrated in terms of defense,” Patrick Cronin, president for Asia-Pacific security at the Hudson Institute, told Yonhap news agency.

“They can also suggest that this relationship is comprehensive. Certainly, both countries face serious economic dilemmas. But whatever words are used, the current relationship will focus on defense cooperation.”

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik said in an interview with Bloomberg News that Seoul has identified at least 10,000 shipping containers suspected of containing artillery ammunition and other weapons sent from North Korea to Russia.

Those containers could contain up to 4.8 million shells, Shin said. EU countries have struggled to meet the target of supplying 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine in the past year, sending only half that amount.

“Putin is expected to seek closer security cooperation with North Korea, especially military deliveries such as artillery shells, which are needed to seize a chance of victory,” Shin told Bloomberg News.

NATO reminds Russia of alliance’s nuclear power. Jens Stoltenberg: We need to show our nuclear arsenal to send a direct warning-Update: 17.06.2024 12:48 | Publication date: 17.06.2024 12:17

B-61 nuclear bomb. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force.

NATO continues talks on deploying more nuclear weapons amid growing threats from Russia and China. This was stated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an interview with The Telegraph. According to him, the Alliance should show its nuclear arsenal to send a direct warning to its adversaries.

Stoltenberg said consultations are ongoing among NATO members on removing missiles from storage and putting them on alert. He called for transparency to be used as a deterrent.

“I will not go into operational details about how many nuclear warheads should be in service and how many should be in storage, but we need to consult on these issues. And that is exactly what we are doing now,” the secretary-general told The Telegraph.

Stoltenberg said “nuclear transparency” should be a cornerstone of NATO’s nuclear strategy to prepare the alliance for what he called “a more dangerous world”.

The Secretary General said that transparency helps to clarify that NATO is a “nuclear alliance”.

Stoltenberg warned that Beijing, in particular, is investing heavily in modern weapons, including its nuclear arsenal, which will reach 1,000 warheads by 2030.

“This means that in the near future, NATO could face something the Alliance has never faced before, namely two potential adversaries with nuclear arsenals – China and Russia. Of course, this has consequences,” the NATO Secretary General added.

He stressed that the United States and European allies are currently upgrading their nuclear forces to deter the growing threat from Russia.

Recently, a senior US National Security Council official, Pranay Vaddi, said Washington may have to expand the deployment of strategic nuclear forces in the coming years to deter threats from adversaries.

He stressed that the United States adheres to the international non-proliferation regime. At the same time, Pranay Vaddi recalled that Russia has refused to discuss a treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III), which expires in 2026, and China does not want to negotiate an increase in its nuclear arsenal.

INS Komemiyut LSV (Landing Ship) has arrived in Israel and will be operationally integrated into the Israeli Navy.

The LSV completed its voyage from the US port of Pascagoula and docked at the Israeli naval base in Haifa. The ship’s entry into Israel’s territorial waters was accompanied by Israeli Navy ships in a “missing” formation, this in memory of fallen soldiers from the Swords of Iron War. INS Komemiyut LSV (Landing Ship) has arrived in Israel and will be operationally integrated into the Israeli Navy. The LSV completed its voyage from the US port of Pascagoula and docked at the Israeli naval base in Haifa. The ship’s entry into Israel’s territorial waters was accompanied by Israeli Navy ships in a “missing” formation, this in memory of fallen soldiers from the Swords of Iron War.


Navy faces most intense sea battle since WWII with Houthis 

16 Jun 2024, 20:00

 Crew members work in the USS Laboon’s combat intelligence center during a deployment in the Red Sea on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. The U.S.-led campaign against Houthi rebels has turned into the Navy’s most intense sea battle since World War II (Bernat Armangue / AP)

The US Navy prepared for decades to fight the Soviet Union, then later Russia and China, on the world’s waterways. But instead of a global power, the Navy finds itself locked in battle with a shadowy Iranian-backed rebel group based in Yemen.

The US-led campaign against the Houthi rebels, overshadowed by the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, has turned into the most intense sea battle the Navy has faced since World War II, its leaders and experts told the Associated Press.


The battle pits the Navy’s mission of keeping international waterways open against a group whose former arsenal of assault rifles and pickup trucks has become a seemingly inexhaustible source of drones, missiles and other weapons. Near-daily attacks by Houthi rebels since November have resulted in the clear targeting of more than 50 ships, while shipping volumes have dropped in the vital Red Sea corridor leading to the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean.

The Houthis say the attacks are aimed at stopping the war in Gaza and supporting the Palestinians, although this comes as they try to consolidate their position in Yemen. All signs suggest the war will escalate – putting US sailors, their allies and merchant ships at greater risk.

“I don’t think people really understand how serious what we’re doing is and how threatened the ships continue to be,” said Cmdr. Eric Blomberg of the USS Laboon to the AP on a visit to his warship in the Red Sea.

“We only have to be wrong once,” he said. “The Houthis just have to get through it.”

Seconds to act

The rhythm of fire can be seen on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, where the paint around the traps of its missile pods has been burned away by repeated launches. Its sailors sometimes have a few seconds to confirm a launch by the Houthis, talk to other ships and open fire on a missile barrage that is approaching or exceeding the speed of sound.

“It’s every day, every hour, and some of our ships have been here for over seven months doing this,” said Captain David Wroe, the commander who oversees the guided missile destroyers.

Almost every day – apart from a lull during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan – the Houthis launch missiles, drones or other attacks into the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the narrow Bab el-Mandeb strait that links the waterways and separates Africa from the Arabian Peninsula.

The navy experienced periods of fighting during the 1980s “oil wars” in the Persian Gulf, but these largely involved ships hitting mines. Houthi attacks involve direct attacks on merchant ships and warships.

“This is the most sustained fighting the U.S. Navy has seen since World War II – easily, without question,” said Bryan Clark, a former Navy submariner and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “We’re on the cusp of the Houthi rebels being able to mount the kind of attacks that the U.S. can’t stop every time, and then we’ll start to see substantial damage. … If you let it get worse, the Houthis will become a much more capable, competent and experienced force.

A fighter jet lands Tuesday, June 11, 2024, on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Red Sea. The deployment of the Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Red Sea was recently expanded. (Bernat Armangue / AP)

Dangers at sea and in the air

While the Eisenhower appears to stay largely aloof, destroyers like the Laboon spend six out of seven days near or off Yemen – the “weapons engagement zone,” in Navy parlance.


All the Houthi-US Navy incidents in the Middle East (that we know of)

A non-exhaustive list of Houthi attacks in the Middle East and US attacks against them.

Fighting at sea in the Middle East remains risky, something the Navy knows well. In 1987, an Iraqi fighter jet fired missiles that hit the USS Stark, a frigate on patrol in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, killing 37 sailors and nearly sinking the ship.

There is also the USS Cole, targeted in 2000 by al-Qaida suicide bombers during a refuelling stop in the Emen port city of Aden, which killed 17 people on board. AP journalists saw the Cole patrolling the Red Sea with the Laboon on Wednesday, the same day the Houthis launched a drone strike against a merchant ship that disabled the vessel.

That merchant ship was abandoned Friday and left adrift and unlit in the Red Sea, the British military’s UK Maritime Commercial Operations Centre said.

Rear Admiral Marc Miguez, the Navy commander for Carrier Strike Group Two, which includes Eisenhower and support ships, said the Navy took out an underwater bomb-carrying drone launched by the Houthis during the campaign.

“At this point in time, we’re pretty confident that Iran is not only providing financial support, but also providing intelligence support,” Miguez said. “We know for a fact that the Houthi rebels have also received training to target U.S. shipping and warships.”

Asked if the Navy believes Iran is picking targets for the Houthis, Miguez said only that there is “collaboration” between Tehran and the rebels. He also noted that Iran continues to arm the Houthi rebels despite UN sanctions blocking arms transfers to them.

Iran’s mission to the UN told AP that Tehran “is adept at thwarting US strategy in a way that not only strengthens them (the Houthis) but also ensures compliance with relevant resolutions.”

The risk is not just on the water. The US-led campaign has conducted numerous airstrikes targeting Houthi positions in Yemen, including what the US military describes as radar stations, launch sites, arsenals and other locations. A round of US and British strikes on May 30 killed at least 16 people, the deadliest attack acknowledged by the rebels.

Eisenhower’s air crews dropped more than 350 bombs and 50 missiles on targets in the campaign, said Capt. Marvin Scott, who oversees all of the air group’s aircraft. Meanwhile, Houthi rebels reportedly shot down several MQ-9 Reaper drones with surface-to-air missile systems.

“The Houthis also have ground-to-air capabilities that we have significantly degraded, but they are still present and still there,” Scott said. “We are always prepared to be shot at by Houthi rebels.”

The kill marks of the drones and missiles that were shot down are imprinted on the fuselage of a fighter jet stationed on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.(Bernat Armangue / AP)

A stalled war

Officers recognize some bombs among their crew, wondering why the Navy isn’t striking harder against the Houthis. The White House has not discussed the Houthi campaign on the same level as negotiations over the Israel-Hamas war.

There are several likely reasons. The United States has been indirectly trying to reduce tensions with Iran, especially after Tehran launched a massive drone and missile attack on Israel and is now enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels than ever before.

Meanwhile, there are the Houthis themselves. The rebel group has fought a Saudi-led coalition to a stalemate in a wider war that has killed more than 150,000 people, including civilians, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

Direct US combat against the Houthis is something the leaders of the Shiite Zaydi group probably want. Their motto has long been “God is greatest; death to America; death to Israel; damn the Jews; victory to Islam.” Fighting the US and publicly supporting the Palestinians has led some in the Middle East to praise the rebels.

While US and European partners patrol the waterways, Saudi Arabia has remained largely silent, seeking a peace deal with the Houthis. Reports suggest that some Middle Eastern nations have urged the US not to launch attacks on the Houthis from their territory, making Eisenhower’s presence even more critical. The aircraft carrier has extended its deployment, while its crew has had only one port call since its deployment a week after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Meanwhile, Houthi attacks continue to curtail shipping through the region. Egypt’s revenue from the Suez Canal – a key source of hard currency for its struggling economy – has halved since the attacks began. AP journalists saw a single merchant ship moving through the once-busy waterway.

“It’s almost a ghost town,” Blomberg admitted.


Navy rescues crew of merchant ship hit by Houthis in Red Sea – Military Times – June 16, 2024

 Sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group assist sailors in distress at sea in the Red Sea on Saturday, June 15, 2024 (Official U.S. Navy photo)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower’s carrier strike group transported the crew of a merchant ship attacked by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to the Red Sea on Saturday, U.S. officials said.

The Greek-owned Liberian-flagged M/V Tutor was struck Wednesday by an unmanned Houthi surface vessel while sailing in the Red Sea, causing severe flooding and engine room damage, according to a Navy statement.

The sailor was transported by a US helicopter based on the USS Philippine Sea to another nearby ship for medical treatment.

By Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

“The crew abandoned ship and was rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” U.S. Central Command said in a separate statement. “The guardian remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”

A Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74 helicopter transported 24 civilian sailors from the Tutor to the USS Philippine Sea, service officials said. They were then transported to the USS Eisenhower by helicopters from the 7th Sea Combat Helicopter Squadron. After medical checks on the Eisenhower, the sailors were transported to shore for further care.

“Despite these senseless attacks on innocent sailors doing their jobs, the Philippine Sea crew stands ready to help keep life at sea safe, always,” said Capt. Steven Liberty, Philippine Sea commander, in a Navy statement.

Aircraft from the USS Philippine also medevaced an injured sailor in a separate Houthi attack on another merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday.

Officials reported that a civilian sailor from Tutor remained missing Sunday. The British military’s UK Maritime Commercial Operations Centre said Saturday afternoon that the ship was “still on fire and sinking”.

The missing sailor is Filipino, according to the Philippine state news agency, which quoted migrant workers secretary Hans Leo Cacdac. He said most of the 22 seafarers of the guardian were from the Philippines.

“We are trying to account for the seafarer in the ship and we are praying that we find him,” he said Friday night.

US officials reported Saturday that the military had launched a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Houthi rebels.

The attacks come at a time when the US Navy is facing the most intense fighting it has seen since World War II in an attempt to counter the Houthi campaign – attacks the rebels say are aimed at stopping the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. However, Iranian-backed rebel attacks often see the Houthis targeting ships and sailors that have nothing to do with the war, while traffic remains choked through a vital corridor for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

US strikes destroyed seven radars in Houthi rebel-held territory, the army’s Central Command said. It gave no details on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from the Associated Press.

“These radars allow Houthi rebels to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.

The United States separately destroyed two bomb-laden drones in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by Houthi rebels over the waterway.

The Houthi rebels, who have held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014, have not acknowledged the strikes or military losses. This has been typical since the US began launching airstrikes targeting the rebels.

Also on Saturday, Central Command said the M/V Anna Meta rescued crew members from the cargo carrier M/V Verbena, which was hit Thursday in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Yemen in two separate missile attacks by Houthi rebels.

The crew abandoned ship after failing to bring fires on the vessel under control. One sailor was seriously injured.

CENTCOM said the Verbena is a Palauan-flagged bulk carrier, owned by Ukraine and operated by Poland, which docked in Malaysia and was en route to Italy carrying timber.

Houthi rebels have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, captured one ship and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration. A US-led airstrike campaign has targeted Houthi rebels since January, with a series of strikes on May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

The war in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds more have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It all began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages.

“The Houthi rebels claim to act on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza, yet they target and threaten the lives of citizens of third countries that have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” Central Command said. “The continued threat to international trade caused by the Houthis, in fact, makes it more difficult to provide much-needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.”

The attacks continued on Sunday morning when two explosions struck in close proximity to another ship in the Red Sea, although the ship and crew were safe, the British military said.


Turkish corvettes for Malaysia – Live Journal -16 June 2024

On June 10, 2024, the Turkish Defence Industry Authority (Savunma Sanayii Bașkanlığı – SSB) signed an agreement on the construction of three corvettes of the Turkish MILGEM (Ada type) project for the Malaysian Navy as part of the implementation of the Malaysian Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) Batch 2 program. The general contractor for the construction of the MILGEM corvettes for Malaysia under this agreement is the Turkish state-owned design and consultancy company Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ș. (STM), and all three ships will be built in Turkish shipyards. All three corvettes should be commissioned by the end of 2027.

First announced in 2016, the Malaysian Navy’s Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) programme envisages the construction of a significant number (at least 18) of relatively small multi-purpose warships in the near sea area. As part of the first phase of China’s LMS programme, four 700-tonne 69-metre Keris-type small patrol vessels have been commissioned and inducted into the Malaysian Navy during 2019-2022.  However, in 2020, the Malaysian Navy revised the requirements for the LMS programme, abandoning further orders for Keris-class vessels and deciding to move to the procurement of larger units in the second phase of the programme (LMS Batch 2). In the end, the choice was made in favour of a full-fledged Turkish-type multipurpose corvette.

According to published materials and the model of the Project MILGEM corvette in the version proposed for the Malaysian Navy, presented at the Defense and Security Asia (DSA) 2024 defence exhibition, held from 6-9 May 2024 in Kuala Lumpur, The Malaysian version of the corvette will be broadly similar to the ships built for the Turkish Navy, but the Malaysian corvettes will additionally receive four vertical four-container launchers of the South Korean naval anti-aircraft gun Haegung Short Range Missile System (K-SAAM) (up to 20 km). Malaysia will apparently become the first foreign customer for this air defence system. The rest of the corvette systems for the Malaysian Navy will be predominantly made in Turkey, including the Atmaca anti-ship missile. A remote-controlled 30mm Aselsan SMASH artillery mount will be installed aft of Malaysian ships.

Malaysia has thus become the third foreign customer for Turkish MILGEM (Ada type) corvettes, after Pakistan (which ordered four ships under the 2018 agreement, two of them built in Pakistan) and Ukraine (which ordered two ships in 2020).

The MILGEM corvette became the first large warship (full displacement 2400 tons, length 99, 6 meters) of the Turkish project. In fact, the project was developed for the Turkish Navy at one time with the participation of the Nikolaev State Research and Design Centre for Shipbuilding (IPCC, Ukraine). In total, the Turkish Navy planned to have 12 corvettes of this type, but in the end the construction of only four ships was authorised and carried out. The construction of the lead corvette F 511 Heybeliada was carried out at the Turkish State Shipyard Istanbul in Istanbul since January 2007 and the ship was commissioned to the Turkish Navy in September 2011. The second corvette F 512 Büyükada was delivered to the Turkish Navy in September 2013, the third corvette F 513 Burgazada in November 2018, and the fourth corvette F 514 Kınalıada in September 2019.


A model of the Turkish project corvette MILGEM (Ada type) in the version proposed for the Malaysian Navy at the Defense and Security Asia (DSA) 2024 defense exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 2024 (c)

Appearance of the Turkish MILGEM project corvette (Ada type) in the version proposed for the Malaysian Navy (c) STM via


Greek coastguard threw migrants overboard and they died, witnesses say – BBC – 17 June 2024

The Greek coastguard caused the deaths of dozens of migrants in the Mediterranean over a three-year period, witnesses say, including nine who were deliberately thrown overboard.

The nine are among more than 40 people believed to have died as a result of being forced out of Greek territorial waters or being taken back to sea after arriving on Greek islands, BBC analysis has found.

The Greek coastguard told our inquiry that it strongly rejects all allegations of illegal activities.

We showed footage of 12 people loaded onto a Greek coastguard boat and then dumped on a former senior Greek coastguard officer’s boat. When he got up from his chair and with the microphone still on, he said it was “obviously illegal” and “an international crime”.

The Greek government has long been accused of forced returns – pushing people back to Turkey from where they crossed, which is illegal under international law.

But this is the first time the BBC has calculated the number of incidents claiming deaths as a result of Greek coastguard actions.

The 15 incidents analysed by the court – dating from May 2020-23 – resulted in 43 deaths. The initial sources were primarily local media, NGOs and the Turkish coastguard.

Verifying such reports is extremely difficult – witnesses often disappear or are too afraid to speak out. But in four of these cases we were able to corroborate the accounts by speaking to eyewitnesses.

Our research, which appears in a new BBC documentary, Dead Calm: Killing in the Med, suggested a clear pattern.

This Cameroonian man told the BBC that he was thrown into the sea by the coastguard – his two companions drowned

In five of the incidents, the migrants said they were thrown straight into the sea by the Greek authorities. In four of these cases, they explained how they landed on the Greek islands but were chased away. In several other incidents, migrants said they were put on inflatable rafts without engines, which then deflated or appeared to have been punctured.

One of the most chilling accounts came from a Cameroonian man, who says he was hunted down by Greek authorities after landing on the island of Samos in September 2021.

Like everyone we interviewed, he said he intended to register in Greece as an asylum seeker.

“We had just landed and the police came from behind,” he told us. “There were two policemen dressed in black and three others in civilian clothes. They were masked, you could only see their eyes.”

He and two others – another from Cameroon and a man from Ivory Coast – were transferred to a Greek coastguard boat, he said, where events took a terrifying turn.

“They started with [the other] Cameroonian. They threw him in the water. The Ivory Coast man said, ‘Save me, I don’t want to die … Then, finally, only his hand was above the water and his body was below.

“Slowly, his hand slipped away and the water swallowed him.”

Our interviewee says the kidnappers beat him.

“It was raining fists on my head. It was like they were hitting an animal.” And then he says they pushed him into the water too – without his life jacket. He managed to swim ashore, but the bodies of the other two – Sidy Keita and Didier Martial Kouamou Nana – were recovered on the Turkish coast.

The survivor’s lawyers are calling on the Greek authorities to open a double murder case.

In June 2023, an overloaded trawler capsizes in front of a Greek coastguard patrol boat. More than 600 men, women and children die in the water. But who is responsible and are the coastguards to blame?

Another man, from Somalia, told the BBC how in March 2021 he was caught by the Greek army on arrival on the island of Chios, who then handed him over to the Greek coastguard.

He said the coastguard tied his hands behind his back before throwing him into the water.

“They threw me zipped into the middle of the sea. They wanted me to die,” he said.

He said he managed to survive by floating on his back before one of his hands broke free from the ligature. But the sea was rough and three of his group died. Our interviewee made it to shore, where he was eventually spotted by the Turkish coastguard.

In the incident with the highest loss of life – in September 2022 – a boat carrying 85 migrants ran into trouble near the Greek island of Rhodes when its engine stalled.

Mohamed, from Syria, told us they called the Greek coastguard for help – who loaded them onto a boat, returned them to Turkish waters and put them on life rafts. Mohamed says the raft he and his family received did not have the valve properly closed.

“We immediately started sinking, they saw that… They heard us all screaming and they still left us,” he told the BBC.

“The first child to die was my cousin’s son…. After that it was one by one. Another child, another child, then my cousin himself disappeared. By morning, seven or eight children had died.

“My children didn’t die by morning… just before the Turkish coast guard arrived.”

Greek law allows all migrants seeking asylum to register their claim on several islands at special registration centres.

But our interviewees – whom we contacted with the help of migrant support body Consolidated Rescue Group – said they were detained before they could reach these centres. They said these men would operate apparently undercover – without uniforms and often masked.

Human rights groups say thousands of asylum seekers in Europe have been forced to return illegally from Greece to Turkey and denied the right to seek asylum, which is enshrined in international and EU law.

Austrian activist Fayad Mulla told us he discovered for himself how secretive such operations seem to be last February on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Driving to the site of an alleged forced return after a tip-off, he was stopped by a man in a hoodie – who later turned out to work for the police. He said police then tried to delete the footage of him being stopped from the dashcam and accuse him of resisting a police officer.

Ultimately, no further action was taken.

Fayad Mulla’s dashcam recorded the moment he was stopped by undercover police after being informed of a forced return to Lesbos

Two months later, at a similar location, Mulla managed to film a forced return, The New York Times reported.

A group that included women and babies was unloaded from the back of an unmarked pickup truck and marched onto a pier on a small boat.

They were then transferred to a Greek coast guard vessel further from the coastline, taken out to sea and then put on a raft where they were set adrift.

They were then rescued by the Turkish coastguard.

We showed this footage – which the BBC has verified – to Dimitris Baltakos, the former head of special operations in the Greek coastguard.

During the interview, he refused to speculate on what the recording shows – after denying earlier in our conversation that the Greek coastguard would ever be forced to do anything illegal. But during a break, he was recorded telling someone the shot in Greek:

“I didn’t tell them much, did I? It’s very clear, isn’t it. It’s not nuclear physics. I don’t know why they did it in broad daylight… It’s … Obviously illegal. It’s an international crime.”

Media caption,

“It’s obviously illegal” – the moment the former top coast guard speaks on camera

Greece’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Island Policy told the BBC that the recording is currently being investigated by the country’s National Transparency Authority.

An investigative journalist we spoke to on the island of Samos says she began talking to a member of the Greek special forces via the dating app Tinder.

When he called her from what he described as a “warship,” Romy van Baarsen asked him more about his work – and what happened when his forces spotted a boatload of refugees.

He replied that he was “chasing them back” and said such orders were “from the minister”, adding that they would be punished if they did not stop a boat.

Greece has always denied that so-called “returns” are taking place.

Greece is a gateway to Europe for many migrants. Last year, there were 263,048 arrivals by sea in Europe, with Greece receiving 41,561 (16%) of them. Turkey signed an agreement with the EU in 2016 to stop migrants and refugees from crossing into Greece, but said in 2020 that it could no longer implement it.

Journalist Romy van Baarsen was told by a member of the Greek special forces that she was under government instructions to drive the boats back

The court has forwarded the findings of its investigation to the Greek coastguard. It replied that its staff had worked “tirelessly with the utmost professionalism, a strong sense of responsibility and respect for human life and fundamental rights”, adding that they were “in full compliance with the country’s international obligations”.

“It should be highlighted that from 2015 to 2024, the Hellenic Coast Guard rescued 250,834 refugees/migrants in 6,161 incidents at sea. The flawless execution of this noble mission has been positively recognized by the international community.

The Greek Coast Guard has previously been criticised for its role in the largest migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean in the last decade. More than 600 people are believed to have died after the Adriana sank in Greece’s demarcated rescue zone last June.

Greek officials have insisted the boat is not in trouble and is safe en route to Italy, so the coastguard has not attempted a rescue.


Lockheed Martin SPY-7 radar hits milestone for Spain’s F-110 frigate – Military News – June 17, 2024

Artist’s impression showing an F-110 frigate at sea. The Almirante Bonifaz-class ship will be the first ship in the world to carry the AN/SPY-7 radar at sea. Lockheed Martin image.

Lockheed Martin and Navantia Sistemas have revealed that the AN/SPY-7(V)2 S-band radar selected to equip the Spanish Navy’s new F-110 Bonifaz-class frigates has passed the Critical Design Review (CDR) stage and moved into production.

Richard Scott 17 June 2024

Meanwhile, a SPY-7 engineering development model (EDM) will soon begin testing at Lockheed Martin Rotary &; Mission Systems’ Moorestown facility in New Jersey as part of an integration and test facility for the F-110 combat system core.

Intended to replace the F-80 Santa María-class frigates, the F-110 design is intended to provide the Armada Española with a multi-mission surface combatant that combines a primary anti-submarine warfare mission with an additional anti-air warfare capability. Navantia received a five-ship manufacturing contract in April 2019, with the first Almirante Bonifaz-class (F-111) scheduled for delivery in 2028.

Navantia Sistemas has assumed the role of combat system design agent for the F-110 program and is providing the indigenous combat management system (CMS) Sistema de Combate de los Buques de la Armada (SCOMBA). SCOMBA will integrate with the AN/SPY-7(V)2 radar and International Aegis Fire Control Loop (IAFCL), provided by Lockheed Martin under a US government foreign military sales contract.

The AN/SPY-7(V) family of radars is derived from the long-range discrimination radar previously developed by Lockheed Martin under contract with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The AN/SPY-7(V)2 variant has been scaled to meet the specific needs of the F-110 program. AN/SPY-7(V)1 is being developed for the Japanese Aegis or ASEV-equipped ship, and AN/SPY-7(V)3 is being developed for the Canadian Surface Combatant or CSC.

Addressing a joint media roundtable on 11 June, Mike Koch, Lockheed Martin’s senior manager for European mission systems, revealed that the AN/SPY-7(V)2 was passed through CDR in late May in a series of technical sessions involving Navantia, Lockheed Martin, the Spanish Navy, the US Navy and MDA.

“This is a very important milestone for the programme. These sessions were held at our Moorestown, New Jersey facility and included a complete design review, integration and test status, and system readiness for production.

Mike Koch, Lockheed Martin senior manager for European mission systems

“During this review, we validated all of our technical radar performance measurements [and] that they are on track, we validated that the design aspects are sound and will support the Spanish Navy’s mission requirements.”

He continued, “This week in Madrid, we are holding executive sessions with the Ministry of Defence, and then we will work with them in the coming weeks to officially close the CDR milestone.”

With the completion of the CDR and the completion of the radar system design, the AN/SPY-7(V)2 will now go into full production to meet the hardware delivery dates for Navantia’s F-110 programme. “Production has now started and we are on track to support system deliveries starting late next year,” Koch said.

EDM, which completed production in late 2023, is currently undergoing near field testing. This demonstration system is planned to begin live tracking events later this year as part of the Aegis-SCOMBA Integration Center (ASIC) already established at Moorestown, Koch said. “This is where we’re bringing SCOMBA [CMS] together with the Aegis weapon system [and] the SPY-7 radar. So we’ll be able to test this end-to-end combat system capability.”

According to Cristina Abad, director of Navantia Sistemas, several combat system integration test events have already taken place at the ASIC facility to demonstrate that SCOMBA and IAFCL can exchange leads. “The next steps,” she said, “are the installation in 2025 of Aegis tactical programs in Navantia Sistemas’ ground test site in Spain to conduct integration tests of both Aegis and SCOMBA systems.”

Koch added: “This [integration] is a new concept [because] it’s actually the first time Lockheed Martin is not the combat system engineering agent for an Aegis weapon system,” Koch explained. “Naval Systems has that role, and SCOMBA is the primary combat system here… the International Aegis Fire Control Loop concept allows us to encapsulate the Aegis weapon system and interface with an international combat management system.”

“It’s been in development for several years and is part of our Aegis Common Source Library.”

The first AN/SPY-7(V)2 to come to Spain will arrive in 2026 to equip the Spanish Navy’s Centro de Integración de Sistemas en Tierra (CIST) ground test facility in Rota. The system delivered to CIST will be integrated into a mast structure with sensors representative of that which will be fitted to F-110 frigates. “This will allow the integration and testing of the SPY-7 radar in a coastal / maritime environment, along with the other radars and sensors that will equip the ship,” Abad said.

Almirante Bonifaz will be the first ship in the world to take the AN/SPY-7 radar to sea. “The positive results of the land-based integration and testing are essential to proceed with the first integration and testing of the SPY-7 radar on board the F-111, which is planned for 2027,” Abad said.

At one point, it was expected that Spanish systems house Indra would collaborate with Lockheed Martin to provide digital transmit/receive modules to populate the AN/SPY-7(V)2 array. However, that plan has now changed, Koch said. “It started as a technology collaboration for [Indra] to develop some of these solid-state radar technologies. Unfortunately, these technologies were not ready to support the shipbuilding phases for the F-110.”

“So we pivoted on that model and are now working with Indra to build components of our SPY-7 radar. They will be receiving purchase orders from us in the coming months to build elements of the sub-array suite [as] build-to-print.”


Russian nuclear submarine ‘Kazan’ ends visit to US yard; Northern naval fleet returns – EurAsian Times – June 17, 2024

Russian warships led by the frigate Admiral Gorshkov have ended their visit and left the Havana port in Cuba. The Russian venture into the US backyard has stirred the American media, despite US officials calling it a regular visit.

“Today, a group of Northern Fleet ships, led by the Soviet Union Fleet Admiral Frigate Gorshkov, ended their unofficial visit and left Havana port in the Republic of Cuba,” the press office said in a statement.

After leaving Cuba’s territorial waters, the Russian Northern Fleet naval group will continue to carry out missions in accordance with its long-range deployment plan.

The press office said Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s visit to the frigate Admiral Gorshkov and the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan was a remarkable event for the Northern Fleet sailors.

Earlier, the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan and Admiral Gorshkov conducted exercises on the use of high-precision missile weapons in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Russian Defence Ministry. The report previously noted that the frigate and submarine crews were practicing the use of high-precision missile weapons using computer modeling against naval targets, indicating naval groups of a fake enemy located more than 600 kilometers away.

The Russian nuclear submarine Kazan, which was traveling without nuclear weapons, was widely reported to be stationed just 90 miles from Florida.

The Kazan is a Yasen-class submarine. It is extremely quiet and “on par” with the latest American submarines.

Edward Geist of the RAND Corporation in the US describes Yasen-class submarines as “the crown jewel of the contemporary Russian navy and perhaps the pinnacle of current Russian military technology”.

The 13,800-tonne Yasen-class submarine was designed by the Malakhit Marine Engineering Bureau and built by the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk. Another upgraded version, the Yasen-M, has a quieter nuclear reactor, additional sensors and new silencing technology. The submarine is 119.8 metres long and can travel 31 knots when submerged.

Because the Yasens are effectively cruise missile submarines, they are frequently assigned the unique ship classification “SSGN” rather than “SSN”. The letter “G” stands for “guided missile”. The Kazan is capable of attacking other submarines and ships and eliminating enemy ballistic missile submarines. It can quickly strike ports and naval sites and is designed to take out carrier battle groups.

Analysts have determined that the US Navy’s Virginia class and the Royal Navy’s Astutes, the primary Western equivalents of the Russian Yasen-M class, are substantially smaller.

The Kazan can carry Onik (3M55) missiles, which have a range of 320 nautical miles (or 592.64 kilometers). Submarines used for land attacks can carry 1,600 nautical miles (3963.2 km) of Kalibr missiles. Land attack missions can also be carried out with Oniks.

There are eight ΡМ-346 (3-14B) complex vertical launch tubes for Onik and Kalibr cruise missiles on any Yasen-class submarine. The system can launch missiles using the submarine’s surface and underwater positions. The submarine can also be equipped with hypersonic missiles.

Alexei Rakhmanov, general director of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), said earlier that the 885(M) project will deploy Zircon hypersonic missiles on Yasen-class nuclear-powered submarines, with preparations already underway.

Writing for Naval News in 2021, naval analyst H.I. Sutton said, “Yasen-M class boats are larger and carry more weapons than their Western counterparts. They will also be faster to launch hypersonic weapons (although the introduction of the service is slower than previously reported). But they carry fewer cruise missiles than the expanded Block V Virginia class. This will significantly close the gap even before the US Navy adds hypersonic weapons and anti-ship capable Tomahawks.

That said, Yasen-class submarines are known for operating near the United States. When asked about the threat posed by Chinese and Russian cruise missile submarines operating near the US mainland, USNORTHCOM commander General Glen VanHerc said last year that Russia has deployed its Yasen-class nuclear-powered cruise missile attack submarines more regularly in recent years.

“[The risk is] absolutely increasing. In the last year, Russia has also deployed [Yasens] in the Pacific,” he said. “Now, not only the Atlantic, but we have them in the Pacific as well, and it’s only a matter of time – probably a year or two – before this is a persistent, 24-hour threat. That impact has reduced the decision-making space for a senior national leader during a crisis.”


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