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Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

The Somali cabinet formally approved a defence and economic cooperation agreement with Turkey on Wednesday, authorising Ankara to build, train and equip the Somali navy and reportedly defend its territorial waters amid tensions with Ethiopia. The agreement strengthens Turkish political and military position in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region amid increasing concerns about security in the strategic waterway. Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre described the agreement at the cabinet meeting as a “historic” one that would become a “legacy” for the Somali nation in the long run.  “This agreement will put an end to the fear of terrorism, pirates, illegal fishing, poisoning, abuse and threats from abroad,” he said, according to the local reports. A Turkish defence official declined to comment, saying that the contents of the agreement would be public simultaneously as it is ratified by the Turkish parliament and the president. “We cannot reveal the details as it has a long way to be ratified,” the official added.  The Turkish Navy already operates off the shore of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden under a UN mission to combat piracy and armed robbery since 2009. 

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Aurora 23 military exercise kicks off in Sweden, 26,000 soldiers from 14 countries take part

Aurora 23 military exercise kicks off in Sweden, 26,000 soldiers from 14 countries take part

Sweden has commenced its largest military exercise in 25 years, involving some 26,000 soldiers from 14 different countries. The Aurora 23 exercises kicked off yesterday, on Monday (17 April) and will run until 11 May. Other than Sweden, participating nations are the US, UK, Poland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Austria, Germany, France, Finland, who joined NATO on 4 April this year, and Ukraine. In a statement released two weeks ago, the Swedish Armed Forces said that the purpose of Aurora 23 is "to enhance the collected capability to counter an armed attack on Sweden", with drills taking place "in the air, on the ground and at sea". The exercise will focus mostly on southern Sweden and the strategically important island of Gotland in the south-east, which lies in the middle of the Baltic Sea and approximately 350km north of the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Drills will also be taking place in northern Sweden, the country's Armed Forces added. The biggest military exercises held in Sweden in 25 years come amid the country's stalled NATO membership application. Stockholm, along with Helsinki, applied for NATO membership in May after being rattled by Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
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Poland, Czech Republic pledge more military aid to Ukraine as Zelensky visits Warsaw

Poland, Czech Republic pledge more military aid to Ukraine as Zelensky visits Warsaw

Poland has announced a swathe of new military aid to Ukraine as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Warsaw on Wednesday (5 April). Speaking in Warsaw, Zelensky announced that he and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda had agreed on the supply of armoured personnel carriers, self-propelled mortars and air defense systems. Additionally, President Duda announced that Poland will increase its donation of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to 14.  Poland had previously donated four, has prepared to transfer four more, and is currently preparing to transfer six further jets that "can be transferred quite soon", according to President Duda. This is on top of 13 MiG-29 fighter jets that had been previously pledged by Slovakia. During the same visit, Poland and Ukraine also signed a joint memorandum on the reconstruction of war-damaged areas of Ukraine as well as on the production of 125mm tank rounds. On the same day, the Czech Republic also pledged a package of military aid worth $30m, including equipment that was currently in storage and "not needed" for the country's defense, according to Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová.
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Finland officially joins NATO military alliance

Finland officially joins NATO military alliance

Finland has officially joined the NATO military alliance after handing over the instrument of accession in a ceremony at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday (4 April). Finland has therefore become the 31st member of the bloc, and in doing so has doubled the length of NATO's border with Russia. Previously, the only NATO member states who shared a border with Russia were Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. "It’s a great day for Finland and an important day for Nato,” said Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö. "Russia tried to create a sphere around them and … we’re not a sphere. I’m sure Finns themselves feel more secure that we are living in a more stable world." The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, "This will make Finland safer and NATO stronger...President Putin had a declared goal of the invasion of Ukraine to get less Nato along its borders and no more membership in Europe, he's getting exactly the opposite." Finland and their nordic neighbour Sweden both abandoned decades of military non-alignment to apply for NATO after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. With an active force of about 30,000, and able to call on 250,000 reserves, Finland has a well-equipped and trained armed forces.
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Finland set to join NATO after Turkey finally approves membership

Finland set to join NATO after Turkey finally approves membership

Finland is set to become the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance after approving its membership in a parliamentary vote late on Thursday (30 March). After months of stalling over claims that Finland, along with its nordic neighbour Sweden, were supporting Kurdish "terrorists", the Turkish parliament finally approved Finland's membership in a vote of 276 MPs voting for, and 0 voting against. While Finland will now be formally admitted into the military alliance at its next summit in July in Lithuania, Sweden's membership bid, which was submitted at the same time as Finland's, is still being held up by Ankara and Budapest. In a statement following the Turkish vote, the Finnish government said joining the alliance would strengthen the country's security, and improve stability and security in the region. Meanwhile the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin tweeted, "as allies, we will give and receive security. We will defend each other. Finland stands with Sweden now and in the future and supports its application."
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Hungarian Parliament approves Finland NATO membership

Hungarian Parliament approves Finland NATO membership

Over 10 months after Finland applied to join the NATO military alliance, the Hungarian Parliament has ratified Finland's application to the currently 30-member bloc in a vote on Monday (27 March). The vote was passed by 182 votes for and only 6 votes against. In order to become a NATO member, an applicant country must be approved by every member state individually, and following Hungary's approval yesterday only one country remains, Turkey. Turkey's approval of Finland's application to NATO is indeed expected soon as the country after the country's parliamentary committee on foreign affairs approved their application last week. A parliamentary vote on accession is expected before the country's presidential elections on 14 May. Yesterday's vote comes after months of delay in both Budapest and Ankara over Finland and Sweden's NATO membership prospects. While Hungarian officials had spent months insisting that they simply busy with other business, at the end of last month the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán threatened to throw a spanner in the works over Finland and Sweden's history of open criticism of rule-of-law in Hungary.