RIMPAC 2022 Kicks Off in Hawaii With 21 Partner Nation Ships

A total of 21 United States partner nation ships, including one submarine, from 14 countries are now docked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022) exercise that kicks off today. Twenty-six nations, including the United States as the host, are taking part in the exercise scheduled to […]

Indonesian Navy frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 26, 2022 to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

A total of 21 United States partner nation ships, including one submarine, from 14 countries are now docked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022) exercise that kicks off today.

Twenty-six nations, including the United States as the host, are taking part in the exercise scheduled to go through August 4 in and near the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

The largest contingent is from the Republic of Korea (ROK), which sent three ships and one submarine, followed by the Royal Australian Navy, with three ships. Canada, Japan and Mexico sent two ships each, while Chile, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines and Singapore each sent a single ship. Several of the ships included embarked helicopters for the biennial drills.

Although the U.S. Navy has not yet officially issued the list of partner nation ships taking part, official news releases over the past month from the navies and defense ministries of the countries taking part have allowed USNI News to compile the list below:

Australia

  • Landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02)
  • Frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152)
  • Replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195)

Canada

  • Frigates HMCS Vancouver (FFH331) and HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338)

Chile

  • Frigate Almirante Lynch (FF07)

France

  • Frigate FS Prairial (F731)

India

  • Frigate INS Satpura (F48)

Indonesia

  • Frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332)

Japan

  • Helicopter Destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183)
  • Destroyer JS Takanami ((DD-110)

Malaysia

  • Corvette KD Lekir (FSG26)

Mexico

  • Frigate ARM Juárez (POLA-101)
  • Landing ship tank ARM Usumacinta (A412)

New Zealand

  • Replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoa (A11)

Peru

  • Corvette BAP Guise (CC-28) – corvette

The Philippines

  • Frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151)

Republic of Korea

  • Landing helicopter platform ROKS Marado (LPH-6112)
  • Destroyers ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991) and ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976)
  • Attack submarine ROKS Shin Dol-seok (SS-082)

Singapore

  • Frigate RSS Intrepid (69)

Thirty-eight surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, over 170 aircraft and about 25,000 personnel will take part in the drills, according to a U.S. 3rd Fleet news release about RIMPAC 2022.

Countries participating include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Countries not represented by ships at the exercise will be represented by ground elements, along with participation either in the various combined command and staff groups or as observers.

Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to participate in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, June 28. U.S. Navy Photo

Four countries – Australia, India, Japan and the ROK – have confirmed that their fixed wing aircraft will join, with two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), an Indian Navy P-8I MPA, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) P-1 MPA and a Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) P-3 Orion MPA.

Ground elements disclosed include:

  • A Joint Landing Force from Australia, which will have a platoon from His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga, an Indonesian Marine Corps platoon, a Mexican Marines company, and a New Zealand Army Joint Fires Team that will include Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.
  • The ROK will field a substantial ground element with a ROK Marine Corps company, four Naval Special Warfare Flotilla teams and a Naval mobile construction squadron.

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) element of 40 personnel will also participate in RIMPAC, though Japan has yet to specify what the JGSDF element will be doing in the exercise.

Prior to Tuesday, a number of the ships taking part in RIMPAC carried out joint sailing and exercise activities. Canadian frigates Vancouver and Winnipeg, Chilean frigate Almirante Lynch and Peruvian corvette Guise – along with U.S. Navy ships that included destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) – conducted a joint sail from San Diego to Hawaii that included maneuver, gunfire, replenishment and communication exercises.

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) pulled into Hawaii on Tuesday ahead of the start of RIMPAC.

After the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and the Australian RIMPAC 2022 contingent sailed together last week, Japanese helicopter destroyer Izumo and destroyer Takanami carried out a replenishment exercise with USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187) on Sunday before doing a joint exercise with French frigate Prairial on Monday.

Royal Malaysian Navy corvette Lekir also carried out a replenishment exercise with Henry J. Kaiser before docking into Pearl Harbor on Tuesday.

New AUKUS Caucus Bill Calls for U.S.-Australia Sub Training Pipeline

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would help the Royal Australian Navy train its future submarine warfare officers with U.S. sailors. Dubbed the “The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act,” the legislation would allow Australia to send at least two of its submarine warfare officers to train with American sailors each […]

Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Benjamin Stewart participates in an Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise with a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine during Exercise ARC21 in 2021. Royal Australian Navy Photo

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would help the Royal Australian Navy train its future submarine warfare officers with U.S. sailors.

Dubbed the “The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act,” the legislation would allow Australia to send at least two of its submarine warfare officers to train with American sailors each year. The Royal Australian Navy officers would first attend the Navy Nuclear Propulsion School, then take the Submarine Officer Basic Course, and finally deploy aboard a U.S. submarine after finishing the basic course, according to text of the bill.

“The new bipartisan bill will establish a joint training pipeline between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, and will enable the start of U.S.-based training of Commanding Officers for Australia’s future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance,” the AUKUS working group said in a news release.

The bill would mandate that the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy begin the training exchange in 2023 and continue it in the years to follow.

The legislation is the product of Congress’ AUKUS working group, which lawmakers created in April to help advance the new partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The bill comes as the U.S., the U.K., and Australia continue an 18-month evaluation period to determine what’s necessary for Australia to develop nuclear-powered submarines.

“The AUKUS alliance is the most important national security partnership that America has entered into in decades. Its centerpiece is creating an Australian nuclear-powered undersea fleet of submarines, which all three allies are actively designing. While that work is ongoing, it makes sense to open the U.S. Navy’s nuclear training programs to Australia’s naval officers to acquire proficiency in the operation of nuclear submarines,” Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), a member of the AUKUS working group who is also the chair of the House Armed Services seapower and project forces subcommittee, said in a statement.

Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) and Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarine HMAS Rankin (SSG-78) operate together in waters off Rottnest Island, Western Australia on March 4, 2015. Royal Navy Photo

Courtney, Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Blake Moore (R-Utah) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) – all co-chairs of the AUKUS working group – sponsored the bill, as did Reps. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).

“The Australia-U.S. Submarine Officer Pipeline Act will help facilitate the delivery and ensure the future success of Australia’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance. Because the delivery of such submarines to Australia will require the appropriate training and development of future commanding officers, and in order to uphold the stewardship of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, the bill establishes a program for Australian submariner training between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy,” the AUKUS working group said in the release.

Last September the Biden administration announced the new trilateral AUKUS alliance, which includes both broader technology sharing and sharing the nuclear propulsion technology required to develop nuclear-powered submarines. The United States has only ever shared nuclear propulsion technology with the U.K. in 1958.

Building nuclear-powered submarined would require billions of dollars and years of investment in infrastructure on Australia’s part, as the country does not have a shipyard that can build or maintain nuclear-powered vessels, USNI News understands.

“It is imperative that we strengthen our undersea capabilities and increase submarine production for our national security interests, and the training exchange program outlined in the legislation will help us achieve that goal,” Moore said in a statement about the bill.

U.S., NATO in for a ‘Long Haul’ Conflict with Russia, Says Polish PM

NATO and the West must be “in the fight for the long haul” economically, diplomatically and militarily in supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression, Poland’s prime minister said Tuesday. Although drawing the line at direct military confrontation, Mateusz Morawiecki, in prepared remarks delivered by a Polish chancellery official at the Atlantic Council, said, “it’s up to […]

U.S. Army Sgt. Keegan Davis, assigned to 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, walks towards his Soldiers after laying out parts of machine guns onto the front of an M1A2 Abrams tank after conducting a live-fire accuracy screening test as part of Defender 22 at Mielno Range, Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, May 11, 2022. U.S. Army Photo

NATO and the West must be “in the fight for the long haul” economically, diplomatically and militarily in supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression, Poland’s prime minister said Tuesday.

Although drawing the line at direct military confrontation, Mateusz Morawiecki, in prepared remarks delivered by a Polish chancellery official at the Atlantic Council, said, “it’s up to us to win the battle” of protecting Ukrainian sovereignty and blunting possible Kremlin moves against alliance members.

“Ukraine is fighting this war not only for its security but ours.” He said the Feb. 24 invasion “turns out to be a wake-up call” to all of Europe about President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions in eastern and central Europe.

In response to the invasion, the prime minister added, “we, the Europeans, have to step up our defense spending.”

Poland already meets the NATO threshold of spending 2 percent of its gross domestic product on security. In light of the war in Ukraine, Warsaw intends to raise that percentage in coming years.

Morawiecki praised the United States for its “stepped-up presence” on NATO’s eastern flank to signal to Russia that the alliance is serious about defense.

Mark Brzezinski, American ambassador to Poland, said that in Warsaw, there are now 12,600 American soldiers on Polish bases. Either arriving with them or coming soon are M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

“We are being tested, and Poland is under threat,” he said when explaining the reasoning behind the U.S. troop levels there.

Former ambassador to Poland, Daniel Fried, said, “we don’t know who will win” in Ukraine, but the Ukrainians “have a reasonable chance of success.” He said the West has to keep the pressure on Moscow. “We can’t screw this up.”

Brzezinski added that the movement of so many U.S. forces and so much equipment eastward from the U.S. and other bases in Europe “allow[s] NATO to stand firm.” He said the American build-up and similar moves by the United Kingdom further underscore Washington’s and London’s commitment to the alliance.

“Sanctions will not stop Russia today,” Katarzyna Pisarska, chair of the Warsaw Security Forum, added. “But we need more of them” to weaken Putin, his coterie and the nation’s economy over time.

Europeans also need to become more energy independent from Moscow to cripple Putin’s ability to wage war by cutting off revenues from his largest source of foreign revenue, said Georgette Mossbacher, who also served as an ambassador to Poland. By building liquified natural gas terminals and exploring nuclear energy, Mossbacher said Warsaw took these steps when Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Foreign energy sales provided revenue for 36 percent of Russia’s released 2022 budget, according to a Reuters report from earlier this year.

Pisarska said the Russian leader has been steering his country into “self-isolation” since 2008 to consolidate power. A large part of self-isolation is playing out in domestic propaganda to build support for the regime’s war, which it calls a “special military operation,” and in other propaganda denigrating Ukraine, Poland and other eastern and central European nations as ruled by Nazis. The unrelenting stream of stories and postings on these points also makes the Russian audience more accepting of crimes and atrocities committed by its soldiers, she added.

For years, the Russian public has been fed a steady diet that “mass genocide has been carried out in Donbas” by the Ukrainians. Days before the invasion, Putin recognized two provinces in Donbas, where there are large numbers of Russian speakers, as independent of Kyiv. Separatists in the two provinces, backed by the Kremlin, have been engaged in a civil war with the Ukraine government for eight years.

The secretary general of the United Nations said Russia’s claim violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and integrity as a nation.

When the disinformation and propaganda turn outward, Pisarska said it plays on nationalist feelings that oppose allowing more Ukrainian refugees to enter Poland and other NATO and European Union countries.

“You see that in the comment lines” on social media, and this digital campaign “never stops,” despite constant monitoring by social media firms, said Marta Poslad, director of central and eastern European public policy for Google. “The technology is constantly changing,” and that makes removing hated-filled disinformation even more difficult, she added.

Despite the Russian propaganda aimed at Poland’s nationalists, Brzezinski called Warsaw “a humanitarian superpower.” He cited citizens driving to the border to greet and help refugees and others opening their doors to house them as examples of how ordinary Poles have responded to the invasion. Rafal Trzaskowski, Warsaw’s mayor, estimated that the Polish capital was now housing 300,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Czech Foreign Minister Calls for West to Send ‘Weapons, Weapons, Weapons’ to Ukraine

The Czech foreign minister’s three words of advice to the Biden administration are to send “weapons, weapons, weapons” to Ukraine from American and western arsenals so Kyiv is not relying on leftover Soviet Union stockpiles. “U.S. industry and [the American] Army play a key role” in “weakening Russia” and setting the stage for Ukraine victory […]

A Joint Honor Guard member holds the Ukrainian flag during an honor cordon ceremony, as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III welcomes Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., April 21, 2022. DoD Photo

The Czech foreign minister’s three words of advice to the Biden administration are to send “weapons, weapons, weapons” to Ukraine from American and western arsenals so Kyiv is not relying on leftover Soviet Union stockpiles.

“U.S. industry and [the American] Army play a key role” in “weakening Russia” and setting the stage for Ukraine victory in the war now entering its third month, Jan Lipavsky said Tuesday at an online Atlantic Council forum.

Ukrainian armed forces have proven they can effectively “use highly efficient drones … to help artillery” destroy Russian targets and also use anti-air systems, including Stinger missiles, to prevent Russian dominance of the skies, Lipavsky said. He added that training times for proficiency could be reduced under the pressures of combat.

On the PBS NewsHour Monday, Lipavsky admitted that “there may be issues” with Soviet-era equipment shipped from the Czech Republic and Poland to Ukraine. To correct the problems, he said Prague “is helping with repair work” so the armor can be fielded quickly, as Moscow shifts its forces eastward.

Prague has also shipped multiple launch rocket systems, artillery and armored personnel carriers to Kyiv since the Russians attack, news organizations have reported.

“Honestly, I think our [NATO’s and the European Union’s] policy decisions were right” to come to Ukraine’s side with weapons and economic assistance, including humanitarian aid, Lipavsky said at the online forum. The United States’ and the United Kingdom’s decisions in the late fall and early winter to ship weapons before the Feb. 24 invasion staved off a quick Russian victory in the ground war, he said.

Asked whether Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin went too far when he said it was the U.S.’s intention to weaken Russia and provide for a Ukrainian victory, Lipavsky said, “I’m very happy for those words.”

The House this week sent to President Joe Biden an updated version of the Lend-Lease Act to aid Ukraine for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, as the U.S. did with Great Britain in World War II. The bill also calls for the reduction of red tape concerning foreign arms sales and shipments to Ukraine. The Senate passed the measure earlier this month.

Speaking from the White House Thursday, Biden called on Congress to quickly pass an additional $33 billion supplemental aid request for Ukraine. About half of the request would cover arms costs to hold back Russian forces as they conduct new attacks in Ukraine’s east and south. In making the announcement, Biden said the $3.5 billion authority Congress granted last month to help Ukraine was almost exhausted.

In his remarks, Lipavsky said the reason to support Kyiv comes down to “the will of Ukraine for freedom, open society, for democracy, for values of freedom of speech. [Ukrainian president Volodymr] Zelensky was democratically elected, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin [was] not. That’s the difference.”

Lipavsky said at the Atlantic Council forum that “it’s a really dark time for Russian democratic forces,” as Putin has cracked down on all forms of opposition from public rallies, to forcing the closure of independent media to threatening jail time for anyone using the word “war,” instead of the phrase “special military operation” to describe the invasion.

Earlier at the forum, Lipavsky said “we all agree this is a brutal, barbaric war” of aggression.

Russia’s unprovoked attack has shown the value of NATO and European Union memberships to Czechs, he said. With the invasion, Finland and Sweden “don’t trust neutrality” as a means to protect their sovereignty.

The Western reaction to the attack also has “proven we have reflexes” to recognize phony crises that Putin tried to create between Belarus and Poland over immigration to justify the invasion.

While economically “Putin’s Russia [is] crumbling in on itself” from the pressure of severe sanctions and the high cost of continued fighting, “China is a systemic rival” that nations in NATO and the E.U. must take into account in imposing its version of international order.

Lipavsky said Prague’s trade with Russia is at a level comparable to its Belgian transactions, but with Beijing the economic stakes are much higher for manufactured goods and the supply chain. Despite this, he added, “we have a very good trade relationship with Taiwan.”

Russian Navy Taking on Resupply Role Nearly 50 Days Into Ukrainian Invasion

Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea are currently resupplying troops in Ukraine instead of playing an offensive role, a senior defense official said Monday. Day 47 into the Ukrainian invasion, and the Russian Navy continues to mostly support the invasion. The country has a couple dozen ships in the Black Sea and the Sea […]

Amphibious warship RTS Olenegorsky Gornyak (012) entering the Black Sea on Feb. 9, 2022. Photo by Yörük Işık‏ used with permission

Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea are currently resupplying troops in Ukraine instead of playing an offensive role, a senior defense official said Monday.

Day 47 into the Ukrainian invasion, and the Russian Navy continues to mostly support the invasion. The country has a couple dozen ships in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the senior defense official told reporters.

Those ships have contributed to some missile strikes in the Donbas region, but those are a small percentage of the Russian missile attacks, the senior defense official said.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Monday that there are no indications the ships are there for minesweeping operations and that the Department of Defense believes the ships are part of resupply efforts for the south of the Donbas region.

“I can’t read out Russian naval activity with any great level of specificity,” Kirby said.

The United Kingdom has pledged to send anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, although it is unclear what kind.

The senior defense official could not say what missiles the British were sending, referring reporters to Downing Street. He did confirm that the United Kingdom announced they would send coastal defense cruise missiles.

A U.K. defense official told USNI News on Monday the missiles were short-range, Soviet-era anti-ship weapons.

About half a dozen of the Russian warships are in the Sea of Azov, most of them surface combatants, the defense official said. They are there to help resupply efforts in Mariupol, the official added.

Mariupol remains in Ukrainian hands, although the city is still seeing heavy fighting. The city’s mayor said 10,000 civilians have died so far in the siege, predicting that the death toll will be higher, according to The Associated Press.

“I think we’re all bracing for when the rest of the world gets to see what happens in Mariupol, what has happened [during the siege],” the senior defense official said. “I think we’re certainly bracing ourselves here for some potentially really, really horrible outcomes.”

While Russia saw more success in the southern part of Ukraine than it did in the north, troops still failed to achieve the goal of capturing population centers like Mariupol, the defense official said.

“They have been no closer to taking Mariupol today than they were last week,” the official said.

Mykolaiv is also still under Ukrainian control, while Kherson is currently controlled by Russian troops. The areas between Mykolaiv and Kherson are contested.

Panel: Beijing Closely Tracking Global Reaction to Ukraine Invasion

China’s Xi Jinping is closely monitoring what is happening to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reputation following the invasion of Ukraine, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones said Monday. Xi is looking at how the world views Putin as a gauge of global reaction he might face should Xi move against Taiwan, Jones argued. Jones, who […]

Xi Jinping President of the People’s Republic of China speaks at a United Nations Office in Geneva on Jan. 18, 2017. UN Photo

China’s Xi Jinping is closely monitoring what is happening to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reputation following the invasion of Ukraine, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones said Monday.
Xi is looking at how the world views Putin as a gauge of global reaction he might face should Xi move against Taiwan, Jones argued.

Jones, who also served as the national security adviser and top commander in Europe, said the reaction could range from hailing Putin as a world leader who is “welcomed once again to the Munich Security Conference” to condemning him as a war criminal.

“I think the Taiwanese are as willing to defend their homeland” as the Ukrainians have been, he said.

Xi and Putin “have concluded the U.S. commitment to our regional relationships are not what they used to be” when they signed a cooperative agreement package during this year’s Olympics in Beijing, prior to the invasion. With Russian forces stalled, Xi is “walking a tightrope” in his relationship with Putin, said Michelle Flournoy, former civilian policy chief at the Pentagon.

At the Atlantic Council online forum, Jones and Flournoy said in both cases – Ukraine and Taiwan – it is a struggle between democracies and authoritarian rule. The implications of the outcomes in that struggle will be felt in the Middle East, Africa, the Western Hemisphere and in India, which is a United States partner in the Indo-Pacific. Many of those nations chose not to back the U.S. in its United Nations condemnation of the Kremlin’s unprovoked attack on Kyiv. Multiple abstained although the condemnation resolution passed.

Jones said the U.S. is not helping itself with countries – like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others – by not having permanent ambassadors in place to show American engagement with them on economic, security and diplomatic fronts. To them, the lack of ambassadorial presence demonstrates “a void of commitment” by Washington. Flournoy added the lack of U.S. presence at meetings of regional organizations like the Association of South East Asian Nations [ASEAN] allows Chinese influence to grow unchecked.

Looking specifically at Taiwan, Flournoy said, “we really need to help with an asymmetric defense” like Ukraine has used to so far to stall the Russian advance. This would be a shift away from selling Taipei large platforms like F-16 fighters to having them build-up their anti-ship, anti-aircraft and anti-tank missile defenses and maritime defenses. The island would become “a little porcupine” to overcome and slow down an invasion across the Taiwan strait. If others, like the U.S., are to help, “they need time to arrive.”

Flournoy, who recently returned from a trip to Taiwan, said president Tsai Ing-wen has emphasized the readiness of its active forces and is paying new attention to improved reserve forces. At the same time, Taipei has created a mobilization agency to use civilians and their skills in the case of natural disasters and a possible invasion from the mainland. She noted the success the Taiwanese have had in relying on volunteerism to augment its police and fire services.

Both said there was no need to abandon “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to the defense of Taiwan. But, “frankly Beijing is going to pay a lot more attention to our actions than our words,” Flournoy added, like helping Taipei build strong invasion defenses.

“I put the responsibility of de-escalation [of tensions over Taiwan and in the South China Sea] on Beijing.” The message being sent is: “We’re going to do [Freedom of Navigation operations] when you threaten Taiwan” with air and maritime incursions, said Flournoy.

Xi’s “preferred approach is to create so much economic leverage” over Taiwan that there would be no resistance to its total alignment with Beijing. She cited China’s increased economic ties with the island in key industries there like investing in semi-conductors, encouraging Taiwanese businesses to operate across the strait and the increased recruiting of young Taiwanese to work on the mainland for higher pay and more career opportunities.

Taiwan is not the only entity or nation seeing increased Chinese business interest in its activities.

China’s economic influence, especially through its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and regional trade pact, is widely felt across the Indo-Pacific. Washington needs to create a “counter-vortex” of economic investment across the region, Jones said. He noted 25 percent of South Korea’s gross domestic product is tied to China and the percentage is growing yearly. “That can affect South Korea’s politics at some point,” he said.

Likewise, China is Japan’s and Australia’s largest trading partner.

President Tsai Ing-wen reviews a Marine Corps battalion in Kaohsiung in July 2020. Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China

“We want to keep putting meat on the bones of the Quad,” the informal security and economic arrangement between the U.S., Australia, Japan and India, Flournoy said. She called for near-term technology wins in the Australia-United Kingdom-United States [AUKUS] agreement. “We can help with that” in New Delhi’s case in wooing India away from its reliance on Russian military systems that date back to the Cold War and still require spare parts to keep the Chinese at bay in the Himalayas.

The military sales relationship, in part, explains India’s abstention in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Flournoy said citing new reports.

Both agreed applying sanctions to Beijing in the case of an invasion of Taiwan would be far more difficult than with Russia because China’s economy is much bigger, more diverse and globally engaged, including with the U.S., than Moscow’s reliance on energy exports to boost its GDP.

U.K. to Raise Offshore Wind Power Targets in Energy Security Push

By Alex Morales (Bloomberg) — The U.K. is planning to significantly raise targets for offshore wind power as part of its drive toward energy self-sufficiency in the wake of Russia’s invasion…

By Alex Morales (Bloomberg) — The U.K. is planning to significantly raise targets for offshore wind power as part of its drive toward energy self-sufficiency in the wake of Russia’s invasion...

Report to Congress on AUKUS Nuclear Cooperation

The following is the March 11, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report AUKUS Nuclear Cooperation. From the report On December 1, 2021, President Joseph Biden submitted to Congress an “Agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States for the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information.” This In Focus explains the agreement’s substance, […]

The following is the March 11, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report AUKUS Nuclear Cooperation.

From the report

On December 1, 2021, President Joseph Biden submitted to Congress an “Agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States for the Exchange of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information.” This In Focus explains the agreement’s substance, as well as provisions of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954, as amended (P.L. 83-703; 42 U.S.C. §§2153 et seq.), concerning the content and congressional review of such agreements.

An accompanying message to Congress explains that the agreement would permit the three governments to “communicate and exchange Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information and would provide authorization to share certain Restricted Data as may be needed during trilateral discussions” concerning a project to develop Australian nuclear-powered submarines. This project is part of an “enhanced trilateral security partnership” named AUKUS, which the three governments announced on September 15, 2021. The United States has a similar nuclear naval propulsion arrangement only with the United Kingdom pursuant to the bilateral 1958 Mutual Defense Agreement.

The partnership’s first initiative, according to a September 15 Joint Statement, is an 18-month study “to seek an optimal pathway to deliver” this submarine capability to Australia. This study is to include “building on” the U.S. and UK nuclear-powered submarine programs “to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.” The study is “in the early stages,” according to a November 2021 non-paper from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which adds that “[m]any of the program specifics have yet to be determined.”

Agreement Details 

The agreement, which the governments signed on November 22, 2021, permits each party to exchange “naval nuclear propulsion information as is determined to be necessary to research, develop, design, manufacture, operate, regulate, and dispose of military reactors.” As noted, this information includes restricted data; the AEA defines such data to include “all data concerning … the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy.” The AEA and 10 C.F.R. Part 810.3 define special nuclear material as plutonium, uranium-233, or enriched uranium.

The agreement, which entered into force on February 8, 2022, is to remain in force until December 31, 2023, when it will “automatically extend for four additional periods of six months each.” Any party may terminate its participation in the agreement with six months written notice. Should any party abrogate or materially violate the agreement, the other parties may “require the return or destruction” of any transferred data.

The agreement includes provisions to protect transferred data. For example, no party may communicate any information governed by the agreement to any “unauthorized persons or beyond” the party’s “jurisdiction or control.” In addition, a recipient party communicating such information to nationals of a third AUKUS government must obtain permission from the originating party. The agreement includes an appendix detailing “security arrangements” to protect transferred information.

Download the document here.

Australia to Build New Sub Base for Nuclear Attack Boat Fleet

The Royal Australian Navy will establish a new submarine base on its east coast to host its planned nuclear-powered submarines and to complement the existing Fleet Base West, Garden Island submarine base, Australian officials said on Monday. The government is considering three possible locations for the new base – Brisbane, Newcastle and Port Kembla – […]

Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN-706) and Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarine HMAS Rankin (SSG-78) operate together in waters off Rottnest Island, Western Australia on March 4, 2015. Royal Navy Photo

The Royal Australian Navy will establish a new submarine base on its east coast to host its planned nuclear-powered submarines and to complement the existing Fleet Base West, Garden Island submarine base, Australian officials said on Monday. The government is considering three possible locations for the new base – Brisbane, Newcastle and Port Kembla – down from 19 initial candidates

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement in a virtual address to the Lowy Institute, followed by a joint media release with Defence Minister Peter Dutton. Morrison stated in the address that the decision was made to support basing and disposition of the future nuclear-powered submarines, but at the same time stressed that the new base would not replace any existing Fleet Base West facilities, “This is about additional national capacity, not relocating any existing or planned future capacity for Fleet Base West. Fleet Base West will remain home to our current and future submarines, given its strategic importance on the Indian Ocean” said Morrison.

Morrison said the decision to establish an east coast submarine base has been many years in the making as part of Australia’s transition from the Collins-class submarine, and that establishing a second submarine base on the east coast will enhance Australia’s strategic deterrent capability; bring advantages in operational, training, personnel and industrial terms; and enable regular visits from of U.S. and U.K. nuclear-powered submarines.

The Fleet Base West will also receive significant funding to support Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines and enable regular visits from U.S. and U.K. nuclear-powered submarines, according to the media release. It also stated that the Australian Department of Defence estimates that more than AUD $10 billion will be needed for facility and infrastructure requirements to prepare for the future nuclear-powered submarines, including the new east coast submarine base. It also stated that Defence will engage with state and local governments to determine the optimal site, which will be informed by the ongoing work of the Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce. This initial work is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

In an interview with ABC Radio on Monday, Dutton said that Australia expects a future influx of ship maintenance and support works throughout Australia, not only from Australian ships, but also partner nation ships coming into Australia.

“We’re talking not only about Australian submarines, we’re also talking about significant visits to our country from the Astute-class [submarines]. We had an Astute-class in [Western Australia] only about two months ago. We have the prospect, I think, of significant visits from the United States fleet – not just their submarines – and also the Japanese visits, the British visits of their frigates. I think you’ll see more activity from the Indians. I just think this is the new norm, tragically, because of the uncertainty within the Indo-Pacific and we’ll see that ramp up over the next couple of years,” he said.

Dutton dismissed the prospect of an intermediate submarine class to bridge the gap between Collins class and the future nuclear-powered submarine, saying it was not feasible, “What we don’t want to do is get into an immature design of a third class of subs. Navy is going to be stretched to run the Collins-class into the mid-2040s, on top of the new nuclear-powered submarines. To have a sort of son of Collins or a daughter of Collins, as it’s been referred to, so a third class of submarines, I just don’t think it’s feasible,” he said, adding that a new class would take years to design and build.

Dutton said that buying an existing nuclear-powered submarine design was not possible given that current nuclear-powered submarine construction capacity globally is now at full capacity. He added that the planned upgrades of the Collins would be sufficient until the new nuclear-powered submarines entered service, which he believes will be earlier than the general estimate of a 2040 timeframe.

“There’s been speculation around the 2040s. That’s not my expectation. I think we can build and we can put into service much sooner than the 2040s. But we’re going through an 18-month process at the moment with both the United States and the United Kingdom talking about the transfer of that [intellectual property], talking about the way in which we can build up that capability”, said Dutton who also stated that there would be more to say on the matter in the middle of this year with the next stage of the [Australia, U.K. and U.S.] discussions.

In other developments, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface task group involved with the alleged lasing of an Australian P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft on Feb. 17, returned to the military port of Zhanjiang, Guangdong on Thursday last week. The task group is comprised of the destroyer CNS Hefei (174), frigate CNS Huangshan (570), amphibious transport dock CNS Jinggang Shan (999) and replenishment ship CNS Honghu (963). China’s Xinhua news agency reported that the group left Zhanjiang on Feb. 5 and successfully completed combat readiness patrols and offshore training missions in the South China Sea, East Indian Ocean, Western Pacific and other waters. Xinhua also added that the training was a routine part of Southern Theater Command’s annual plan, did not target any specific goals and conformed to relevant international law and accepted practice.

Japan also reported the sighting of another PLAN surface group on Friday, stating that the destroyer CNS Urumqi (118), frigate CNS Yantai (538) and replenishment ship CNS Taihu (889) were sighted 110 km east of Miyako Island and traveled north in the Miyako Strait between Miyako Island and Okinawa heading into the East China Sea. The release by the Joint Staff Office of the Japan Self Defense Force also stated that the replenishment ship JS Hamana (AOE-424) and the minesweeper JS Ukushima (MSC-686) conducted surveillance on the PLAN ships.

U.K. Diplomat: Sanctions on Russia Can Be Increased If Necessary

The harsh sanctions already imposed on Russian businesses, financial institutions and individuals following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine are “a rolling program” that can be ratcheted up as events unfold, a senior United Kingdom diplomat said Tuesday. Speaking at an online Wilson Center forum, Michael Tatham, the U.K.’s deputy ambassador to the U.S., said Washington, […]

Kremlin

The harsh sanctions already imposed on Russian businesses, financial institutions and individuals following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine are “a rolling program” that can be ratcheted up as events unfold, a senior United Kingdom diplomat said Tuesday.

Speaking at an online Wilson Center forum, Michael Tatham, the U.K.’s deputy ambassador to the U.S., said Washington, London, the European Union and Pacific partners leveling sanctions was “coordinated, synchronized and broadly consistent … for maximum impact.”

He added that sanctioning Belarus, which is backing Russia and providing a staging ground for the attack, demonstrates that flexibility.

“The locker of further measures is not empty” if the Kremlin does not reverse its policies and end its “naked aggression” that is threatening Ukrainian sovereignty, according to Tatham. Referring to the coordination between London and the EU on sanctions, he said “a mechanism for that exists” and it worked.

“We absolutely have a shared interest” in European security and preserving “a rules-based order” with the E.U., Tatham said.

“My guess is [the unity behind the leveling of the sanctions and NATO’s strong response to bolster eastern and southern defenses] are substantially greater than [Russian President Vladimir] Putin expected,” he said. In response to the sanctions, Russia has largely shut down its financial markets and bank trading this week.

“The show of resolve and unity has been impressive,” he added. Tatham, the number two U.K. diplomat to the U.S., added there has been “a kind of dynamic that goes beyond governments” in reaction to the invasion. He cited the withdrawal of BP and Shell from joint energy projects with Russian companies, Western cinema companies shutting down film distribution in Russia and sports organizations suspending Russian membership.

“Russia is becoming an international pariah,” he said.

But whether this global reaction and existing sanctions is giving Putin and the Kremlin leadership pause, Tatham said, “who knows.”

“Our criticism is directed against Putin and his regime,” not the Russian public. “Putin’s public statements lay bare the agenda. It’s not about NATO. … It’s about a sphere of influence,” reflective of an earlier age that is not the 21st century, Tatham said. The invasion was “premeditated, brutal and cynical” and also has met far more resistance from the Ukrainian government, armed forces and public than the Kremlin expected.

He noted that more than 6,000 Russian citizens have been arrested for protesting the invasion and thousands more are signing letters of protest.

On the military side, Tatham said “a number of countries are leaning in” to provide weapons and equipment to the Ukrainians. Tatham stressed that 25 or so nations, including Taiwan, are sending defensive weapons like anti-tank and air-defense systems and equipment like body armor to Kyiv not, offensive supplies.

He added that the U.K. has been training the Ukrainian armed forces since the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea on how better to defend themselves. London has stepped up its materiel support in the days after the attack.

Tatham said London is working with like-minded nations through “an informal coordination mechanism” to meet the needs of Ukrainian forces and on shipment and distribution of arms and equipment.

The invasion also reinforced to NATO members the importance of Article 5, which says “an attack on one is an attack on all.” Tatham said the United Kingdom “is increasing air policing in Poland and Romania” and dispatched a battle group to Estonia.