A look at the Defence news 14 – 20 February

The Defence ministers of the NATO countries met in Brussels last week. The meeting was held against the backdrop of the tense security situation unfolding in Russia and Ukraine. The NATO allies remain as concerned as ever about the build-up of Russian troops. NATO has failed to confirm earlier Russian reports of the withdrawal of troops. There was, however, cautious optimism as Moscow appeared to be prepared to continue the dialogue.

Enlarge image Minister of Defence, Kajsa Ollongren.
Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren (left) during a meeting with her counterparts.

“We stand by our values, such as sovereignty of countries to make their own choices,” the Netherlands Minister of Defence, Kajsa Ollongren said. The situation remains worrying and unpredictable, as Russia’s true intentions are not clear. “Our primary commitment is de-escalation through dialogue and diplomacy.”

Increased readiness of NATO standby units

The Netherlands Ministry of Defence is increasing the readiness of its military units in order to meet the required NATO response times. This preparation is aimed at the ability to deploy units at very short notice at NATO’s request. The Netherlands MoD has not provided any information as to which military capabilities this involves. NATO has increased the readiness of the NATO Response Force, its rapid reaction force.

Netherlands prepared to provide military equipment to Ukraine

The Netherlands is planning to supply Ukraine with military equipment. In doing so, the Dutch government responds to the Ukrainian request for military support due to the Russian threat at the border. This involves 3,000 combat helmets and 2,000 flak jackets with corresponding armoured plates. In addition, Defence will supply 30 metal detectors and 2 wire-guided detection robots for mine detection on land or at sea. Finally, the Netherlands is capable of providing 2 battlefield surveillance radars and 5 weapons location radars, and 100 sniper rifles with 30,000 pieces of ammunition.

Takuba Task Force in Mali comes to an end

The deployment of the Takuba Task Force is going to end. France, which is in command, has decided to withdraw its force from Mali. This is an immediate result of the opposition the task force is experiencing from the Malian transition authorities. On behalf of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, 2 staff officers were active in Takuba. One of these officers was stationed in Mali, and will soon be leaving the country. The Netherlands sees no reason to withdraw its military personnel involved in other missions in Mali.

General Burkhard interested in increased military cooperation with the Netherlands

The French Chief of Defence General Thierry Burkhard visited the Netherlands last week to meet with his Dutch counterpart General Onno Eichelsheim. Their agenda included discussing options for more cooperation. The current tensions surrounding Ukraine call for increased cooperation between various armed forces. That is why the French and Dutch armed forces intend to conduct more joint exercises. Further cooperation is sought during new missions, while military interoperability is also a  point of focus.