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18 juin 2015 4 18 /06 /juin /2015 12:50
European Council, 25-26/06/2015

18.06.2015 European Council

Agenda highlights

The European Council meeting on 25 and 26 June will discuss migration. Leaders are expected to focus on relocation, resettlement and return policy. They should also look forward to the Valetta Conference with countries of origin and transit in Africa.

The heads of state or government will focus on the security challenges facing the European Union. They will discuss a review of the European security strategy and take stock of on-going work in the fight against terrorism.


Leaders will also discuss economic issues, concluding the 2015 European Semester, taking stock of the state of play concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the European Fund for Strategic Investments.  
The European Council will further discuss and provide orientations on the digital agenda and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) report on better economic governance in the euro area.

These agenda highlights set out the main items that the European Council is expected to address at its meeting. It is not an exhaustive list and may yet be modified.

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22 mars 2015 7 22 /03 /mars /2015 08:50
photo Marina Militare

photo Marina Militare


March 19, 2015 Defense News (AFP)


ROME — Italy said Thursday it would increase its military presence in the central Mediterranean, describing a deadly attack on a museum in Tunis as fresh evidence of a growing threat from extremist groups.


"Following a worsening of the terrorist threat, dramatically demonstrated by yesterday's events in Tunisia, an increase in our air and naval deployments in the central Mediterranean has become necessary," Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told the parliamentary defence and foreign affairs committee.


At least two Italian tourists died in Wednesday's attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis.


The minister said the increased military presence was required to defend Italy's multiple interests in the area in light of the growing risk posed by the presence of extremist groups and to ensure consistent levels of maritime security.


"North Africa has to represent our primary concern," Pinotti told lawmakers.


On top of the forces usually deployed, Italy has moved additional naval units, a maritime protection team, helicopters, planes and drones into the area, she added.


Pinotti said the extra resources were needed to protect communication lines, merchant shipping and offshore platforms and to facilitate increased surveillance of potential jihadist activity.


Italy has been on a heightened state of alert on its own territory for the last month following Islamic State's execution of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya and threats by the group that it could seek to carry out terror attacks on the former colonial power.


Italian security chiefs are concerned that IS appears to be gaining a foothold in conflict-wracked Libya and could use it as a base to mount attacks on merchant ships or on Italy.


The chaos in Libya is also seen as a key factor driving an acceleration in the number of migrants arriving on Italy's shores by boat with current rates pointing to more than 200,000 landing this year.


Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni warned last month that IS loyalists could team up with battle-hardened militia fighters in Libya and seize control of parts of the country.


Rome says it is ready to lead a peacekeeping operation in Libya on condition that the warring parties agree to lay down their weapons and the UN issues a green light.

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7 mars 2015 6 07 /03 /mars /2015 17:40
The guided missile cruiser Varyag (L) and the Varshavyanka class diesel submarine (photo Vitaliy Ankov RIA Novosti)

The guided missile cruiser Varyag (L) and the Varshavyanka class diesel submarine (photo Vitaliy Ankov RIA Novosti)


March 03, 2015 RT.com


Russia and Egypt have agreed to hold a joint naval drill in the Mediterranean and to carry out joint anti-terrorist exercises, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement following talks between ministers of the two countries.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his Egyptian counterpart Sedki Sobhi agreed to sign a deal on military cooperation between the two countries. The agreement will “determine the vector of our military cooperation for years to come,” said Shoigu following the talks.

“The parties agreed to continue the practice of inviting Egyptian military to Russian exercises in the capacity of observers, and also to hold a naval exercise in the Mediterranean this year and an anti-terrorist exercise of rapid reaction forces,” Russia’s Defense ministry said in a statement.


Read more

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14 novembre 2014 5 14 /11 /novembre /2014 12:30
Terrorists attack Egyptian Navy vessel in Mediterranean


13 November 2014 naval-technology.com


A terrorist attack on an Egyptian Navy vessel in the Mediterranean Sea has reportedly injured five servicemen, with eight others missing.


During the attack, which comes a day after a car bomb injured ten people in the Sinai Peninsula, the vessel reportedly came under fire some 70km off the northern port of Damietta.


According to an Agence France-Presse report, the attackers deployed 'fishing boats' and did not appear to use any rocket propelled grenades or heavier weapons.


Egyptian military spokesperson Mohamed Samir was quoted by the local daily Youm Sabah as saying: "In addition to what has been posted regarding the terror attack, the five servicemen who were injured during the attack have been transported to military hospitals for the necessary care."


The Egyptian military destroyed four vessels used by the assailants and arrested 32 people. Reports also revealed that the Egyptian Air Force was used in response.


The attack follows the remote detonation of a car bomb in the town of El-Arish, north of the Sinai Peninsula, by the police in a controlled explosion.


However, there were no signs of attacks by Sinai-based militants, who have stepped up attacks against police and soldiers since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown last year.

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20 janvier 2014 1 20 /01 /janvier /2014 23:50
Italy Warns of Continued Security Threat


Jan. 20, 2014 - By TOM KINGTON and VAGO MURADIAN – Defense News


WASHINGTON AND ROME — Italy’s defense minister has warned that criminal groups with potential links to terrorism are profiting from running migrant vessels across the Mediterranean to European shores and is calling on the US to keep focused on resurgent Islamic terrorism in the region.


Mario Mauro told a small group of reporters that Italy is using drones and submarines to counter the profitable trafficking of migrants from North Africa, which was potentially bankrolling terrorism.


“European governments and public opinion see this as a problem of illegal immigration — this is not my vision,” Mauro said during a trip to Washington last week to see US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.


“My thinking is that the situation is linked to the problem of international security and the security of the Mediterranean,” he said.


Mauro and Hagel — who also discussed Afghanistan and the Joint Strike Fighter program — agreed to raise the Mediterranean refugee issue at the upcoming NATO Military Committee meeting in Brussels this month.


The traditional flow of migrants from Africa to Italy, usually on ramshackle boats that head for the Italian island of Lampedusa, has stepped up in recent years, initially boosted by an outpouring of migrants from Tunisia, and more recently from Syria. Migrants also make the arduous desert crossing from Sub-Saharan Africa through Libya, where they have often been jailed and tortured before being allowed to board boats.


After hundreds of migrants drowned last year when their boats sank, the Italian Navy mounted regular patrols to pull people off unseaworthy, overcrowded vessels.


Mauro said the normal flow of boats from Libya is being augmented by sailings from Egypt organized by “criminal multinational organizations,” which had handled 25,000 paying passengers in the past year, the majority fleeing the war in Syria.


Traffickers are using mother ships, he said, which would tow smaller and less seaworthy vessels to within about 200 kilometers of the Italian coast, at which point about 1,000 passengers would be loaded onto the smaller vessels and released.


On one occasion, an Italian submarine surfaced 100 meters from a mother ship, allowing Italian special operations forces to board it and arrest the traffickers, he said.


With each passenger paying around $3,000, each sailing was netting about $3 million, he said, with proceeds heading to international criminal organizations, not excluding some possible links with terrorist groups in Syria and Somalia.


“The problem is not just illegal migration but international security,” Mauro said. “It’s important that the US understands better what is going on in the Mediterranean.”


In Libya, he added, it is hard to tell the difference between criminal and terrorist groups involved in trafficking.


“There are 28 brigades that call themselves jihadists, but they are often criminals,” he said. South of the Libyan border, he added, “chaos” reigns, with thousands of terrorists at large.


Mauro said he believes the ships could also have been used to ferry terrorists into Europe.


“I was in Kosovo where I learned that about 500 Kosovars who had been involved in the Syrian war were coming home. How can we discover if they are in these boats?” he said.


Right now, he added, the Italian Navy is receiving assistance in its patrols from the Navy of Slovenia.


“Lampedusa is the border of Europe, not just Italy,” he said. “We are convinced that Europe has to do more to guarantee security in the Mediterranean.”


Robert Fox, an independent UK defense analyst, said “Libya left a conduit open which will be a channel for al-Qaida into Europe, and this means Afghan veterans, not just a loose alliance of African groups. If the US is still interested in security, it needs to stay focused on the Mediterranean.”


Mauro also warned of the potential of the Syrian war to spill over into Lebanon, stating, “Hezbollah is now fighting an offensive war for the first time, which is very dangerous,” while in Syria, “there are Chechen and Yemeni brigades as well as Saudi fighters, as well as Sunni rebels fighting each other due to different backers and different visions of Islam. And with the jihadists losing, there is the problem of a spill over into Iraq.”


During their meeting, Hagel and Mauro discussed the Middle East and Italy’s offer of the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro for the switching of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile from Danish and Norwegian vessels to a US ship configured to neutralize the weapons at sea.


Tension and violence in the Middle East will not vanish, Mauro said.


“The results of the last 10 years suggest we will live with this situation for a long time,” he said. “I am determined to convince our allies to share a long-term common vision, and we probably need a new strategy for the area and one crucial element is the role of the US.”


That, he said, requires a stronger relationship between the US and Europe, “an Atlantic perspective, not just a European or an American perspective.”


And that, in turn, requires a stronger Europe, he said. “We need more Europe, and that means we can guarantee the US it will be less alone facing an international crisis. A more united Europe is a good opportunity for the US,” he said.


But that requires more coordination of fractured defense spending — Europe’s apparently unresolvable problem.


“This was discussed at the EU summit in December for the first time in five years,” Mauro said. “Without a common strategy of defense, there is no guarantee for the political project which is the European Union.”

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12 novembre 2013 2 12 /11 /novembre /2013 20:50
Nuclear Cruiser Leads Russian Task Force in Mediterranean


MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti)


The Russian Northern Fleet's nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky was assigned on Monday to lead the country’s permanent naval task force in the Mediterranean.

“The Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser has joined warships in Russia’s task force in the eastern Mediterranean and is now leading the group,” the Northern Fleet’s spokesman, Capt. 1st Rank Vadim Serga, told reporters.

According to the official, the headquarters of the operational command of the task force, which includes warships from all four Russian fleets, was transferred to the Pyotr Veliky from the Black Sea Fleet’s Moskva missile cruiser on Sunday.

The Moskva has completed its mission in the Mediterranean and is expected to return to its home base in Sevastopol on November 15.

The Russian standing task force in the Mediterranean currently comprises the Varyag missile cruiser, the Smetlivy frigate, several large amphibious landing ships, as well as two reconnaissance ships.

Russia began its military buildup in the Mediterranean Sea last year “to protect its interests in the region.” The Kremlin later said the deployment of the naval task force in the region was prompted in part by the Syrian crisis.

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27 septembre 2013 5 27 /09 /septembre /2013 15:50
Major NATO exercise underway in the Mediterranean

27 September 2013 defenceWeb


A large fleet of warships from NATO’s Response Force (NRF) is currently taking part in the maritime exercise Brilliant Mariner 2013 in the Mediterranean Sea conducted in conjunction with the Italian Navy’s Exercise Mare Aperto 13.


The warships are participating in demanding training evolutions that will enable them to respond to crisis situations anywhere in the world at short or no notice. The exercise, which ends on October 6, is taking place in the Tyrrhenian Sea between Sicily and Sardinia.


Over 5 000 military and naval personnel from 12 NATO nations comprising Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany , Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States are taking part in this major annual exercise.


Twenty-five warships, including an aircraft carrier, 12 frigates, one amphibious warfare ship, one auxiliary ship and seven mine countermeasures vessels are involved, alongside a variety of aircraft, submarines and embarked marines. Two submarines and a maritime patrol aircraft have also been deployed for the exercise.


NATO’s Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, UK is responsible for directing the exercise, ensuring the NRF is faced with a realistic and demanding scenario, presenting a number of challenges for the participants.


The first part of the exercise focuses on inter-operability training in asymmetric multi-threat and maritime warfare operations. This will help units to be ready to work together for the second phase of the exercise during which the force will undertake demanding responses within a complicated, crisis response scenario.


“Brilliant Mariner will not only hone multi-national maritime skills to preserve our readiness, but it is also a tangible demonstration of what NATO’s maritime power can bring to the various security challenges we are likely to face in the coming years. A key attribute of Maritime Forces is the ability to exert influence at range, offering political choice and a broad range of military options. To do so we must train hard,” said NATO’s Maritime Commander, Vice Admiral Peter Hudson of the Royal Navy.


This exercise is part of NATO's efforts to further develop connected and inter-operable maritime forces at a high-level of readiness through dynamic and demanding exercises. The goal is to make sure the maritime component of the NRF is able to respond swiftly to any challenge

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12 septembre 2013 4 12 /09 /septembre /2013 11:30
Russia’s ‘carrier-killer’ Moskva enters Mediterranean

September 12th, 2013 By TV-Novosti - defencetalk.com


Russia’s Moskva missile cruiser, dubbed a “carrier-killer” by NATO, has passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and is now heading toward the eastern Mediterranean to assume command of the Russian naval force there.


The Russian Navy said in a statement that the Moskva cruiser passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on September 10.


Interfax news agency added that the Moskva cruiser, “commanded by Sergey Tronev, Captain 1st Rank of the Guards… has enough room for maneuver now.”


“The Black Sea flagship entered the Russian Navy’s area of responsibility in the Mediterranean at 11:00 pm Moscow time yesterday,” the agency reported a military source as saying.


The missile-carrying cruiser is expected to join its final destination in eastern Mediterranean on September 15 or 16.


Upon arrival, the command of the Russian Navy unit in the Mediterranean, currently stationed onboard the Admiral Panteleyev anti-submarine ship, will be relocated to the Moskva.


“The armaments and technical equipment of the missile cruiser are in working condition. The crew is ready to perform combat missions,” the source said.


The missile cruiser, initially known to Western naval intelligence as “Slava” (Glory), was launched in 1979 and entered service in 1983. It was later renamed the “Moskva” in 1995. Designed to be carrier-killers, the cruisers of Class 1164 are equipped with 16 anti-ship launchers P-1000 Vulkan, or Volcano (SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles, according to NATO classification).


Another two vessels, the landing ship Nikolay Filchenkov and the guard ship Smetlivy, will join the Russian naval unit later. They will be pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits by September 12-14 and will then head to the eastern Mediterranean.


Russia’s Defense Ministry has said the maneuvers are part of the “stage-by-stage rotation of warships and support ships of the standing naval force in the Mediterranean.”


The recent deployments are aimed at “complex monitoring” of the situation around Syria, military sources told Interfax earlier.


Russia’s standing naval force in the Mediterranean now involves landing craft carriers “Aleksandr Shabalin,” “Admiral Nevelskoy,” “Peresvet,” “Novocherkassk” and “Minsk” of Russia’s Black and Baltic Sea Fleets, as well as escort vessel “Neustrashimy,” and the anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleyev.”


Russian naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean come amid growing tension in the region, which sparked speculation that Russia was boosting its naval presence ahead of a possible US strike against Syria.


Previously, Russia’s defense officials cautioned against making connections between the relocation of warships and the Syrian crisis, saying the maneuvers do not depend on the situation and “will continue after it.”


‘Moskva’ weaponry


    16x SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles

    8×8 (64) S-300PMU Favorit (SA-N-6 Grumble) long-range surface-to-air missiles

    2×20 (40) OSA-MA (SA-N-4 Gecko) SR SAM

    1x twin AK-130 130mm/L70 dual-purpose guns

    6xAK-630 close-in weapons systems

    2x RBU-6000 anti-submarine mortars

    10x (2 quin) 533mm torpedo tubes

    Armor: Splinter plating

    Aircraft carried: 1 Ka-25 or Ka-27 helicopter

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4 septembre 2013 3 04 /09 /septembre /2013 12:50
HMS Westminster (left) and Italian ship Francesco Mimbelli [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]

HMS Westminster (left) and Italian ship Francesco Mimbelli [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]

3 September 2013 Ministry of Defence


A Royal Navy warship deployed in the Mediterranean has been testing her skills in an anti-submarine warfare exercise with the Italian Navy.


HMS Westminster is working as part of the Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) which is on an annual deployment to the Mediterranean and the Gulf to test the flexibility and capability of the force.

Part of their tasking includes working alongside NATO allies – and in Westminster’s case this came in the form of the Italian destroyer Francesco Mimbelli and submarine Salvatore Pelosi.

Taking turns to practise hunting for each other, the sailors from both ships and the submarine were put through their paces in an action-packed few days. As well as testing sensors and weapons skills, the exercise also tested the reactions of those on board.

There was also the chance for some of the sailors to experience life on board a partner nation’s vessel. From HMS Westminster, Medical Officer Lieutenant Moira McLellan spent 2 days on the Francesco Mimbelli.

Italian ship Francesco Mimbelli, HMS Westminster and Italian submarine Salvatore Pelosi
Italian ship Francesco Mimbelli, HMS Westminster and Italian submarine Salvatore Pelosi taking part in an exercise [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]

She said:

It was a very enjoyable visit and interesting to see the similarities in the day-to-day workings of both navies. However, the culinary differences were very apparent, with pizza being served on Mimbelli’s bridge at 10 in the morning.

Aside from the anti-submarine exercise, HMS Westminster has been busy undertaking a wide range of tasks including flying, gunnery and boarding as part of her Cougar deployment and also in preparation for operations further afield.

HMS Westminster is due to leave the Cougar force before the end of their deployment and take up station in the Gulf as one of the Royal Navy’s long-standing commitments to the region.

HMS Westminster's 30-millimetre gun
Smoke emanates from HMS Westminster's 30-millimetre gun after firing [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]

The Commanding Officer of HMS Westminster, Captain Hugh Beard, said:

The ship’s company of Westminster have been working hard as part of our Cougar 13 deployment and also in preparation for our future mission.

As a former submarine commanding officer, I am a poacher-turned-gamekeeper and I have really enjoyed my experience with the capabilities of Westminster to try to defeat the Italian submarine Pelosi.

The ships of Cougar 13 will operate in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Gulf and around the Horn of Africa.

A Royal Marine fast ropes from a Lynx helicopter
A Royal Marine from HMS Westminster fast ropes from a Lynx Mk8 helicopter [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]

This annual deployment involves exercising with partner nations and will show the UK Armed Forces’ capacity to project an effective maritime component anywhere in the world as part of the RFTG, which is being commanded by Commodore Paddy McAlpine from the fleet flagship HMS Bulwark.

The RFTG is the United Kingdom’s high readiness maritime force, made up of ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, at 5 days’ notice to act in response to any contingency tasking including humanitarian disaster relief and international military intervention.

As well as HMS Westminster there are 3 other Royal Navy ships – HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious and HMS Montrose – taking part and all are being supported by 5 Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.

Royal Marines conducting a boarding exercise
Royal Marines conducting a boarding exercise which involves searching people on the flight deck of HMS Westminster [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]
A member of HMS Westminster's gunnery team
A member of HMS Westminster's gunnery team fires his general purpose machine gun [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]
Members of the firefighting team
Members of the firefighting team on deck during an exercise [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dan Rosenbaum, Crown copyright]
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2 juin 2013 7 02 /06 /juin /2013 17:40
The Russian Navy only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was scheduled to go on the dry dock at Severodvinsk to begin a four-year upgrade, but due to the hightened tension in Syria it is likely to continue service unchanged, joining the new Mediterranean Task Force the Russian Navy is deploying to the Mediterranean sea.

The Russian Navy only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was scheduled to go on the dry dock at Severodvinsk to begin a four-year upgrade, but due to the hightened tension in Syria it is likely to continue service unchanged, joining the new Mediterranean Task Force the Russian Navy is deploying to the Mediterranean sea.

June 2, 2013 by Tamir Eshel - Defense-Update.


The Russian Navy plans to deploy its single aircraft carrier in support of its newly formed Mediterranean task force, Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov said, a declaration that could further escalate rhetorics over the Syrian conflict. The carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” will be ready to join the naval task force by the end of 2013. Defense-Update reports.

Last year the Russian carrier was deployed off the Syrian coast supporting a two-week naval mission in the Mediterranean. The carrier returned to its home base in Severomorsk on February 17 2012 and was scheduled to enter a four year mid-life upgrade by year’s end.

The Russian Navy sought to replace the P-700 Granite anti-ship missiles with catapults, more hangars and new air defense systems, enabling the carrier to operate with more aircraft (MiG-29K fighters would have replaced the current Su-33s.)

The Russian Navy sought to replace the P-700 Granite anti-ship missiles with catapults, more hangars and new air defense systems, enabling the carrier to operate with more aircraft (MiG-29K fighters would have replaced the current Su-33s.)

The overhaul to be carried out by the Severodvinsk Sevmash shipyard would include the removal of the P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles, installing of catapults to the angled deck, and upgrading of the vessel’s powerplants. The air wing currently operating Su-33 fighters would expand, and convert to modern MiG-29K jets. Upgrades to the ship’s electronics and sensor equipment were also planned, along with the installation of the new anti-aircraft system. Admiral Kuznetsov was scheduled for a relaunch in 2017. Pushing back the refit seems to be a blow to the Navy, as the ‘Kuznetzov’ is already considered a ‘goulag’ for seamen, due to appalling living conditions on board.

This ambitious refit is now cut short, enabling the vessel to redeploy, responding to  heightened tension in the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base is at the Syrian port of Tartus. Moscow has been reinforcing its Mediterranean presence as the conflict in Syria has worsened. In March, warships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet entered the Mediterranean for the first time in decades to become part of what Moscow says is a permanent task force. That task force also includes vessels from the Northern, Baltic, and Black Sea fleets.

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