La Vigie Nr 201: Wild geese | What to think of the SCO ? | Lorgnette : Tigray, a forgotten war

Letter from La Vigie dated 28 September 2022

The wild geese

After having had the wind in their sails at the articulation of the XX° and XXI° centuries, private military companies are being singled out because of Wagner’s actions. The latter is however not a singularity but an illustration of what such a company can be. Its use, which reveals the weaknesses of the Russian army, should also raise questions for those who claim to be strategists. Is the development of such companies compatible with a national strategy?

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What about the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has just held its annual summit in Samarkand, and it has received exceptional attention from the Western media, which is on the lookout for the slightest dissension between Russia, China and India in support of Moscow. But the important thing is not there but in the enlargement of the organisation to include Iran and the acceptance of a dozen countries, notably from the Middle East, as observers.

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Lorgnette: Tigray, the forgotten war

Here is a war that has been going on for two years, between a federal state that wants to bring a federated state of 6 million people to heel. There have already been 500,000 victims, aerial bombardments of civilian refuges, countless war crimes (including the use of starvation), drones, clashes between army groups of more than 20 divisions each, a 5-month truce suddenly broken, a backhanded attack by a neighbouring country, the regular use of armed drones.

It’s all happening in September 2022 and no, this is not Ukraine, but the conflict between Tigray and the Ethiopian federal government. So war is not back, it has never left our world, but who cares what happens in the Middle East, Yemen, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa?

Yet the modalities of these wars are not so far removed from what we observe in Ukraine, despite the supposed evidence of “high intensity”, in fact common to all wars. The difference lies not in the armoured-mechanised dimension of one war compared to the other, but in its ultra media coverage.

The emotion in the face of the misfortunes of our fellow human beings should be the same. This is not the case. Wealth is not just about money.

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JOCVP

Crédit photo : odi.org

La Vigie Nr 188 : A difficult awakening | Attrition in Ukraine | Lorgnette : Economic backlash

Letter from La Vigie dated 16 March 2022

Difficult awakening from a long strategic sleep

Ukraine is the revelation of the strategic sleep of the Euro-Atlantic world seeing a threat suddenly appearing on its doorstep. The outsourcing of defence, the primacy of economic factors, the prevalence of national interest: these are all reasons for this abstention. Does the EU still have a heart for strategy after years of lethargy?

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Attrition in Ukraine

The armed conflict in Ukraine is in its third week of fighting. The strategist observes it from multiple angles: first of all, from a military strategy point of view, with several focuses: the course of operations on the ground, aspects of information warfare, the fate of populations or vital infrastructures. He also broadens his view to other aspects, diplomatic or geopolitical, whether they concern Russia, Europe, America or the rest of the world.

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Lorgnette: economic backlash

The economic sanctions are already causing a chain reaction that we do not yet fully understand. They are occurring in an economic context that was already convalescing from the pandemic from which we had not yet fully recovered. Now, the sanctions against Russia are hitting us and many countries around the world as a backlash.

First and foremost, the hydrocarbon market (oil and gas) is permanently affected. No supplier can replace Russia in the short or medium term, contrary to what some hope. The decisions taken in favour of electricity and against nuclear power are a clear obstacle here. In addition to this rise in costs, the fall in the euro is aggravating inflation.

The situation for cereals (wheat, maize, sunflower, nitrogen fertilisers) is even more worrying, as the sanctions affect Russia, while Ukraine can no longer export (and will soon be unable to sow). Many countries in Africa and Asia are likely to experience a violent food crisis, not to mention our farmers. It is not only Russia that will be affected by the sanctions.

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JOCVP

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LV 131 : Sahel : just before the rubble | EastMed and gas | Lorgnette : Challenges of DG Defence

Letter from La Vigie dated 11 December 2019

Sahel: just before the rubble

The motives put forward by some (economic interests) or others (fight against terrorism) are struggling to convince of the French strategy in the Sahel. As a result, because we define the enemy poorly, we are stalling, knowing that the authorities in the region do not have the same priorities as France. This addition of misperceptions, false pretenses, miscalculations and misunderstandings hinders many initiatives. It is time to make a real diagnosis and start from the bottom.

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Eastmed (Medor ) and gas

The geopolitics of the eastern Mediterranean is now stimulated by the abundance of natural gas that has recently been found on its seabed. The region’s balances are all the more affected by this as the liquefaction of LNG from this gas now allows its production, diffusion and storage in situ, certainly with heavy investments. This rapid evolution creates a strategic dynamic of competitions, alliances and cooperation that has a strong impact not only on the local residents but also on the region near the Levant and even on the green economy, whose regional situation is changing.

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Lorgnette: challenges for DG Defence

The new European Commission is finally in place and presents its innovations. Among these, a “DG Defence Industry & Space”, named Défis (Defense Industry & Space – Challenges in French) and already named “DG Defence” like the CESDP which was quickly established as a European defence. But collective defence is still NATO for most EU Member States (LV 129), as the President of the Commission pointed out.

The result of the partition of DG Industry, this DG will be a stimulus and an arbiter for the EU’s defence industry. We see it as the spearhead of a reconquest by Europeans of their strategic autonomy, a decisive step on the road to a Security and Defence Union, which is obviously complementary to NATO. With the permanent structured cooperation of the 25/27, the €13 billion FEDEF over 7 years and Galileo, we will thus have a catalogue of structures that will complement the COPS, the EUMS, the EDA and prepare the European army that some see emerging.

To counter the Russian threat and meet the Chinese challenge? We’ll judge on the basis of the evidence. But what has been lacking so far is will and strategy; structures will not replace them.

JOCV

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