BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Sending Patriot missiles to Turkey has a hidden benefit for Europe’s shrinking armed forces: it helps them to justify expensive and little-used weapons systems at a time when their governments are slashing military spending.
The German and Dutch armies have both held media opportunities to show off their deployment of two Patriot missile batteries and up to 400 personnel each in response to Turkey’s request for NATO to bolster security along its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria.
VREDEPEEL, The Netherlands (Reuters) – Dozens of camouflaged military trucks streamed out of an army base in the southern Netherlands on Monday carrying Patriot missiles to defend Turkey from what the Dutch defense chief called the real threat of missile attack from Syria.
Five convoys totaling 160 vehicles ferried two Dutch Patriot missile batteries from an army base near Eindhoven to the port of Eemshaven, where they will be loaded onto a ship for a two-week voyage to Turkey.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. soldiers who will man Patriot anti-missile batteries to protect Turkey from the spillover of Syria’s civil war began arriving in the country on Friday, the U.S. military said, but the missiles themselves are due later.
Turkey formally asked NATO for the missiles in November to bolster security along its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, which has been torn by a 21-month insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders are likely to clash over issues ranging from Syria to trade, energy and human rights on Friday when Putin holds his first talks in Brussels since his re-election as president in May.
Relations between the 27-nation bloc and Russia, its main external supplier of energy and a key trading partner, have been soured by rows over gas pipelines and brewing trade disputes over cars and pigs.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have dropped sharply this year but piracy remains a viable “business model” and could bounce back if international naval forces in the region are cut back, the outgoing commander of the NATO mission said on Monday.
Hijackings of ships in a vast area of the Indian Ocean off Somalia have dropped to seven in the first 11 months of this year compared to 24 in the whole of 2011, although Dutch Commodore Ben Bekkering said 136 hostages were still being held.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Several Scud missiles fired at rebels by Syria have landed “fairly close” to the Turkish border, NATO’s top military commander said on Friday in a blog explaining why Patriot anti-missile batteries are being deployed to Turkey.
The comments by U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, were the first to confirm that Scuds have come down near the border of Turkey, a NATO member state.
BRUSSELS, Dec 14 (Reuters) – European Union leaders pledged
on Friday to plug the gaps in Europe’s military capabilities and
strengthen its arms industry as austerity budgets threaten to
damage both the continent’s military capabilities and its
The leaders also pledged at a Brussels summit to try to
boost the EU’s role in tackling international crises now that
the U.S. military focus is shifting to Asia, creating demand for
a bigger EU security presence in Africa and the Mediterranean.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russia accused NATO on Friday of moving towards involvement in the Syrian conflict, three days after the alliance decided to station Patriot missiles to protect Turkey from spillover from the violence.
The charge came from Russia’s new ambassador to NATO, and came in spite of NATO assurances that the Patriots, which will be placed near Turkey’s border with Syria, are intended purely for defensive purposes.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday it was crucial that NATO allies stick to their commitments to fund Afghanistan’s security forces after Western forces end their combat role in the country in 2014.
Afghanistan’s foreign backers have pledged $4.1 billion per year to fund Afghan security forces after 2014, but there are concerns that European countries hit by austerity cutbacks may not be able to meet their commitments.
BRUSSELS/BEIRUT, Dec 4 (Reuters) – NATO told Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday that any use of chemical
weapons in his fight against encroaching rebel forces would be
met by an immediate international response.
The warning from NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen came as U.S. government sources said Washington had
information that Syria was making what could be seen as
preparations to use its chemical arsenal.