China Overtakes France as 4th Largest Major Weapons Exporter
- The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) updated its database to include 2013 arms sales, and sees China’s share of international arms exports above France’s, as China gained the 4 percentage points that France lost from the 2004-2008 period to 2009-2013. The completion of a couple large French sales to India and the Middle East could still reverse that trend in the 4 years ahead. Trends in international arms transfers [PDF].
Ukraine/Russia: What to Watch Beyond Military Movements
- As Russia didn’t even pretend to massage the outcome of the Crimean referendum to make it look somewhat credible, the EU and the US have agreed to a new set of financial and travel sanctions targeting a few influential Ukrainians and Russians.
- As DID pointed out earlier this month, there’s no sign that London is ready to apply real state-to-state financial pressure, while Paris appears unwilling to cancel its Mistral contract with Russia. You know how the joke goes: in paradise the police are British and the cooks are French. In hell…
- The most likely explanation for a massive drop of custody holdings at the US Federal Reserve last week is that Russia moved some of its Treasuries to another central bank such as Belgium’s. Note that Russia didn’t sell these bonds, they presumably moved them out of direct US reach. An advisor to Putin recently made threats against the market for US Treasury market, were the US government to seize Russian assets.
- Lest you think Russians threats are empty, the BBC quotes former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, talking about the 2008 financial crisis:
“Here I’m not going to name the senior person, but I was meeting with someone… This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, ‘Hey let’s join together and sell Fanny and Freddie securities on the market.’ The Chinese weren’t going to do that but again, it just, it just drove home to me how vulnerable I felt until we had put Fanny and Freddie into conservatorship.”
- The (broke) Ukrainian government approved $600M in emergency military spending and mobilized its active and national guard troops. They are also saying they repelled Russian troops out of the Strilkove village in the Kherson oblast, just north of Crimea, though whether their effort was actually successful is disputed.
- Rostec’s Russian Helicopters grew their sales by 10% to RUB183B ($3.8B) in 2013.
Italy to Revisit JSF Buy
- Roberta Pinotti, appointed as Italy’s defense minister last month, said the country’s F-35 buy will be “rethought, reviewed, and reduced” as the new government is reviewing spending. A point of contention is whether parliament’s control of military spending will be overridden by the executive branch. Italy’s defense ministry is going to sell real estate, close facilities, and reduce its quantity of active troops. Pinotti is a former school teacher, but as a member of parliament she worked on defense matters and was for a few months a defense shadow minister (Italian governments have an short life expectancy). Sky TV interview [in Italian] | Il Fatto Quotidiano [in Italian] | Reuters.
Taking Care of Your Oil Tankers so You Don’t Have To
- Last week the Libyan government proved unable to prevent rebels from hijacking an oil tanker, leading to the sacking of the prime minister. Fear not, US Navy Seals took control of the tanker which will soon be returned to Libya.
Meanwhile in Pyongyang…
- While Ukraine and missing flight MH370 hog the headlines, North Korea fired 18 short-range missiles toward East Sea.
RHIBs from LCS
- Today’s video shows US marines launching and recovering rigid hull inflatable boats from USS Freedom (LCS 1):