Is Ukraine’s Military Splitting in Two?

ukraine-2010-presidential-electionMuch has been made about the presence of Russian troops —including what appear to be special forces units— in southern Ukraine. But peace and stability in the region are not threatened only by the actions of foreign troops; they are also threatened by the attitude of the armed forces of Ukraine, whose stance is likely to determine the outcome of the current crisis. The government of Ukraine has called all military reservists in the country to mobilize in order to “ensure the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. But what guarantee is there that the Ukrainian armed forces will remain united while the country is splitting in two —or three, counting the Tatars? At least 20 percent of Ukraine’s citizens consider themselves ethnically Russian, and there is little reason to believe that the ranks of the Ukrainian military, which reflect the ethnic makeup of the country’s divided population, will prove immune to rapidly intensifying sectarian tensions. Already Russian news outlets report that “the majority” of Ukrainian armed forces personnel stationed in Crimea have “switched to the side of local authorities” of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The secessionist government’s Deputy Prime Minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, said on Sunday that the Ukrainian armed forces in the breakaway region “have all but surrendered” and that many “are expected to take military oath soon”, declaring their allegiance to the Crimean Republic. Presumably these are ethnic Russians who are abandoning the Ukrainian military and joining that of the secessionist movement in Crimea out of nationalist allegiance.

On Sunday afternoon, news agencies reported that Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, who was appointed head of Ukraine’s Navy on Friday, had voluntarily defected to the ethnic Russian side. Russian media aired video footage of Berezovsky pledging his allegiance “to the people of Crimea”.  The Admiral’s defection, which occurred on only his second day on the job as commander of the Ukrainian Navy, prompted Crimea’s secessionist Prime Minster, Sergey Aksyonov, to announce the official creation of “Crimea’s Navy”, consisting of ships that have defected from Ukraine. One such ship appears to be the Hetman Sahaidachny, a frigate that was until recently in the Gulf of Aden, participating in a Western-led counter-piracy operation. On Sunday, as the frigate was returning to the Black Sea, its captain, Rear Admiral Andrey Tarasov, announced his intentions to disobey all orders from Kiev, while submitting himself to the authority of the Crimean government.

Gangs of rival protesters clashing in the streets of Kiev, Kharkov, and other Ukrainian cities, with stones and baseball bats is one thing. But if the Ukrainian armed forces split along ethnic lines, then civil war will become unavoidable. Under such a scenario, Russian and the West will in all likelihood be unable to prevent an armed conflict that will irreparably undermine the collective security of the entire Eurasian region.

Joseph Fitsanakis

Saab fights to return sub maker to Sweden

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, formerly Kockums, is developing Sweden's A26 next-generation submarine. Sweden may support a drive to put the shipyard back in Swedish hands by backing a takeover bid by Saab. (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems)
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, formerly Kockums, is developing Sweden’s A26 next-generation submarine. Sweden may support a drive to put the shipyard back in Swedish hands by backing a takeover bid by Saab. (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems)

Sweden — three years after selling its national submarine-maker Kockums to Germany’s ThyssenKrupp — is now fighting to wrest control of its indigenous sub-building capability from the German giant.

The clearest sign of deteriorating relations between Sweden and ThyssenKrupp emerged on Feb. 27, when Sweden’s defense procurement agency FMV announced that it had allocated $3.84 million to investigate Saab’s ability to design and produce Sweden’s next generation submarine.

The move drove speculation that Sweden might support a bid by Saab to take over Kockums, now called ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which would put ownership back in Sweden.

Swedish Defense Ministry officials expressed disappointment and concern over the lack of guarantees provided by ThyssenKrupp covering commitments to maintain TKMS as a large-vessel producer. More specifically, Swedish officials claim that ThyssenKrupp has still not provided a fixed price for the delivery of two new A26 generation subs and mid-life upgrades to the Navy’s Gotland-class submarines.

The emergence of Saab as a potential builder of the A26 submarine has cast doubt over TKMS’ role in the Navy’s submarine modernization project. TKMS secured the contract to design the A26 in 2010, and provisional costs were included in Sweden’s defense budget for that year.

Management and unions at TKMS’ Malmo-based shipyard warn that the prevailing uncertainty could result in the closure of the country’s only submarine construction facility should the company fail to obtain the A26 and Gotland-class construction and modernization contracts.

Fears relating to the possible loss of contracts has extended to the Malmo shipyard’s 1,000 unionized workers, who are also facing a reorganization of operations, with ThyssenKrupp reported to be planning to designate Malmo as its industrial hub for small-sized subs and surface vessels up to 1,000 tons, a prospect that has also further hurt relations with Swedish authorities given that the A26 and Gotland-class subs have a displacement of around 1,900 tons.

The lack of a fixed price from ThyssenKrupp regarding the A26 and the Gotland-class submarine programs means that to proceed to the build stage would be neither practical, sustainable or the best use of funds in respect of the armed forces or taxpayer’s money, said FMV spokesperson Louise Wileen Bjarke.

Saab, which maintains that it could quickly create the capacity needed to build and modernize submarines, has declined to comment on market reports that it is engaged in exploratory talks that could see it takeover TKMS’ operations from ThyssenKrupp.

Sweden’s MoD, the FMV and ThyssenKrupp also declined to comment on a possible state-support acquisition push.

ThyssenKrupp, through its subsidiary Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), acquired the then-Kockums Naval Systems business from Swedish industrial Celsius AB in 1999. HDW later became part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

The divestment placed Sweden’s submarine production capability under foreign ownership.

Along with Saab’s fighter production capability, submarine warfare represented the two biggest strands of Sweden’s indigenous defense industry.

DefenseNews

Turkey tops employment growth

Turkey has ranked first among 32 developed and developing countries in increasing its workforce size since the 2008 global economic crisis, marking a 22.7 percent rise.

According to figures compiled by data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the Turkish workforce increased by 4.7 million people from 2008 to November 2013.

The number of people employed in Turkey, which was 20.7 million in 2007, reached 25.4 million as of November 2013, making it the only country that achieved an increase of above 20 percent.

Israel was the country closest to Turkey in its employment increase rate with 18.8 percent, while Luxembourg with 15.3 percent, Malta with 11.5 percent and Australia with 10.9 percent succeeded in raising their employment growth over 10 percent threshold. Greece, meanwhile, is the worst performing country in employment, with a 28 percent joblessness rate, followed by Spain with 26 percent.

AA

Greece Eyes $206 Billion From Oil & Gas Deposits

Greece can potentially bring in more than 150 billion euros ($206 billion) in state revenue over the next 30 years through untapped oil and natural gas deposits, said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday, with the sum worth nearly half of Greece’s current debt mountain.

There are “very strong indications of significant” reserves off Greece’s western coast, Samaras told reporters, as cited by Bloomberg, adding that explorative work was already ongoing in waters off the island of Crete in the south.

The gulf of Patras, in the west, is thought to hold some 200 million barrels of crude oil, while another 50-80 million barrels are believed to lie near Ioannina and another three million barrels near Katakolo.

In 2012, the government commissioned a Norwegian contractor to carry out seismic surveys in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete in search for oil and gas. Drilling contracts for the region are to be issued later this year.

“We are completing the concession agreements for the gulf of Patras and Ioannina, where the indications are strongest, and they will be tabled for ratification by parliament,” Samaras said.”

Meanwhile, Greece resumed bailout talks with its international lenders on Monday, hoping to end six months of wrangling over the release of new rescue loans it needs to avoid default.

Athens has already obtained 218 billion of the 237 billion euros set aside under the bailout, which expires this year; and will require another disbursement of funds to repay 9.3 billion of bonds maturing in May.

Economy Watch

Turkey weighs NATO access to Black Sea

Reports are surfacing at several sources that China may have been able to convince Turkey not to grant permission for NATO ships to pass through the Bosphorus to reach the Black Sea. Although details of the exact Chinese argument to Turkish authorities still remain elusive, a delegation of key Chinese diplomats is said to be involved.

China and Turkey are yet to officially confirm or deny the allegations.

According to Chinese diplomatic sources, China will readily veto and decision by the UN Security Council against Russia regarding the developments in Ukraine following a UK call for an emergency UNSC meeting.

Turkey’s Power Over The Straights

The Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the straights is a 1936 international agreement that gives Turkey control over the Bosphorus Straights and the Dardanelles, and regulates the transit of naval warhips. The convention gives Turkey full control over the straights and guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime while restricting passage of naval ships not belonging to Black Sea states. The terms of the convention have been a source of controversy over the years, most notably concerning the Soviet Union’s military access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Signed on 20 July 1936, it permitted Turkey to remilitarize the straights. In went into effect on 9 November 1936 and was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 11 December 1936. it is still in force today with some amendments.

A controversial project named Kanal istanbul attempts to create a secondary, artificial canal that will be parallel to the Bosphorus and also connect the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. It may be a possible by pass to the Montreux Contention and allow greater Turkish autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships.

US, nuclear allies prepare for B61 overhaul

The US has reportedly earmarked $10 billion to upgrade its “dumb” B61 tactical nuclear bombs with a newer, guided version dubbed B61-12.

B61 is a tactical nuclear warhead capable of delivering a pre-determined nuclear yield of up to 50 kilotons,  large enough to level a whole city. Under a nuclear sharing agreement, these warheads have been deployed to bases in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Various sources indicate the number of B61 warheads kept in Turkey to be around ninety, forty of which have been “assigned for host country use” under strict NATO supervision.

The B61-12 upgrade involves the installation of a modern INS navigation system that will enable a pilot to release the nuclear bomb with a much higher accuracy, making it unnecessary to use maximum yield to achieve a similar effect, minimizing unwanted collateral damage on the civilian population.

 

Turkey to arm Seahawk with naval UMTAS

Turkey has started engineering work to adapt a naval version of its successful UMTAS missile system for its fleet of Seahawk helicopters, TR Defence sources reported on Sunday.

The project is managed by ARMERKOM, a Turkish scientific and research institute operated by the Turkish Navy, Cengiz Topel Naval Aviation Command, and Turkey’s leading missile and aerospace company Roketsan, maker of a large family of rockets and guided missiles such as the Cirit.

The new missile will operate similar to the American Hellfire system and will be named Mizrak-U. First integration of the naval missiles on Turkish Seahawks is expected in 2015.

UMTAS is an extremely effective infrared guided, fire and forget capable anti-tank missile with a range of 8 kilometers (5 miles). It can be used against both static and moving targets day and night, including under adverse weather conditions.

 

Japan loses Altay opportunity to national policy

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T) has lost a potential deal to supply tank engines to Turkey because of restrictions that remain in place on Japan’s military exports, officials in Turkey and Japan said.

The development shows the limits of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to dismantle a near total ban on Japanese weapons exports that has shut the country’s defense contractors out of overseas markets since World War Two.

Abe is pushing to ease the terms of Japan’s self-imposed weapons export restrictions in part to lower Japan’s defense procurement costs as part of a bid to build a more robust military to counter the rising regional power of China.

Mitsubishi Heavy had been under consideration to supply engines for the Altay tank being developed by Turkey’s Otokar (OTKAR.IS) since last year.

But on Thursday Murad Bayar, Turkey’s undersecretary for state-run defense industries, told reporters that the potential deal had been quietly dropped in talks with Tokyo.

“We have agreed with Japanese authorities to leave this topic off the agenda and focus on other areas of co-operation,” Bayar said.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had raised the issue of Japan’s co-operation in supplying tank engines when Abe visited Ankara in May. The approach by Erdogan sparked a round of talks between officials from the two countries and a visit to Turkey by Japanese engineers, officials in Japan said.

A spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy said the company had no comment because the discussions were a “government matter.”

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, said on Friday that he was not aware of the status of the talks with Turkey but said any  agreements would be based on the policies that limit Japan’s military.

Japan, which renounced the right to wage war in its postwar constitution, effectively banned arms exports in 1967.

Under new guidelines being developed by Abe’s coalition government, exports would be approved by the trade ministry if they were judged to serve peaceful missions or if joint development of a weapon was deemed to enhance national security, a person with knowledge of the review has told Reuters.

But the more lax arms exports standards under consideration by the Abe administration would still carry a requirement that Japan be consulted before weapons using Japanese technology were exported to other countries.

Talks with Turkey on the Altay tank broke down on that point at the working level, officials in Japan told Reuters. Turkey has hoped to export the Altay to other countries.

In a deal announced last month, India became the first country to agree to buy military aircraft from Japan since the war. Under the preliminary deal worth an estimated $1.65 billion, ShinMaywa Industries (7224.T) would supply amphibious aircraft to India’s military.

Reuters

Azerbaijan to manufacture Turkish rockets

Azerbaijan and Turkey to sign final document on joint missile production in the near future.

The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet - Russian equivalents).
The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense Industry and ROKETSAN company of Turkey will sign a final document on the joint production of missiles at an Azerbaijani facility, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) told Azerbaijan’s APA.

Technical issues on joint production have already been solved. Necessary measures are being taken to start the production.

SSM has not revealed when the final document will be signed.

According to the agreement, 107 and 122 mm caliber missiles will be manufactured at the Azerbaijani facility with the participation of ROKETSAN. The engines for these missiles will be produced by ROKETSAN, other parts in Azerbaijan.

Relevant discussions have been held since 2008. The range capability of ROKETSAN-produced 107 mm caliber missiles is more than 11 km and 122 mm caliber missiles more than 40 km (twice higher than the former Soviet – Russian equivalents).

APA

Turkish AWACS delay to cost Boeing millions

US aircraft manufacturer Boeing delivered the first airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to Turkey at the end of January.
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing delivered the first airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to Turkey at the end of January.

Turkey has demanded $183 million worth of services from U.S. aircraft maker Boeing as compensation for the late delivery of airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, a defense undersecretary official has said.

The Turkish Defense Ministry has requested an increase in the start-up support period from an initially planned two years to five years, as well as three years of software maintenance service and close to $32 million in spare parts, in return for canceling the $183 million delay penalty and accumulated interest, said Cemal Evci, a project director at the Undersecretary for Defense Industries (SSM).

He said the Boeing contract had been valued at $1.385 billion but that there had been a $59 million reduction, as some of the requirements were not met. He also noted Turkey had paid $637 million to Boeing in advance.

Under a July 23, 2003, contract, Boeing was to develop and deliver four AEW&C aircraft to the Turkish Air Force by 2008.

However, the first of the aircraft slated for deployment along the countrys Syrian border could only be delivered recently.

The AEW&C aircraft had arrived in Turkey for acceptance tests at the end of January and tests are to be followed by an inauguration ceremony Feb. 21 in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.

Last year, Defense Minister ?smet Y?lmaz had said Turkey would impose sanctions on Boeing for the delays, and the supplier and buyer parties have been attempting to reach a consensus over the cause for the delays for some time.

Some officials had said there were disagreements over whether the delays stemmed entirely from the companys shortcomings, or whether they were due to extra features that Ankara demanded be installed on the aircraft.

In yesterdays remarks, Evci said technological difficulties in developing some of the high-quality features demanded by Turkey led to the six-year delay.

The program involved the delivery of the 737-700 airframes, ground radars and control systems, ground control segments for mission crew training, mission support and maintenance support.

The 737-700 aircraft are to be used as part of Turkeys NATO capabilities. An AEW&C system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges, and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.

Used at a high altitude, the radars on the aircraft allow the operators to distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft hundreds of miles away.