GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 625, 28 March 2022

Europe: The new focus on defence
Ankit Singh

What happened?
On 24 March, while chairing the NATO summit, the NATO Chief mentioned Europe’s ‘new security reality,’ affirming the organization’s resolve to defend its members. On the same day, Estonia’s defence minister announced additional funding for defence with a hike of USD 523 million. The country becomes the eighth in the European Union to have hiked up its defence expenditure for capital investment in conventional warfare platforms. 

What’s the background?
First, the EU’s reluctance to invest in defence expenditure until now. For years, Europe had preferred development over defence; former US President Donald Trump told Europe earlier for ‘not doing enough’ on defence. Now, the Russian aggression in Ukraine has jolted many countries on the issue. 

Second, the priority of air-defence platforms. The Russian invasion has brought attention over superior air warfare platforms. The EU member states have sought to secure their air defence capabilities as a primary objective. Estonia, for example, has majorly contracted for short- to mid-range air defence systems.

What does it mean?
First, the EU’s new attention on defence to face the military might of Russia. The Eurasian landmass military balance has been skewed in favour of Russia. Now, the war in Ukraine has woken up the EU. JPMorgan also framed a “fundamentally changed” landscape of the Europe Defence Sector, and defence spending would be an important parameter in the ratings of the multinational consultancy for its assessment of prospects in the EU market. 

Second, the return of land warfare. Russia is waging fifth-generation warfare using fourth-generation platforms. The emphasis on tanks and missiles will reinforce the conflicts across the world. A return to territorial defence will propel territorial nationalism, leading to conservative leaders gaining traction. This development would divert the commitment to the common problem of climate change and transition to net-zero emissions. 

Third, the renewed zeal for sixth-generation warfare. Europe’s defence spending would push the member states to research and invest more in advanced artificial intelligence platforms and drone swarming. Ongoing projects would be fastened; there would be an increased divide over technologies of war between countries across the world.

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