Thursday, 23 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
It's no surprise that Istanbul is at the top of so many people's travel lists. From historical sights to atmospheric cafés and restaurants, there's something for all tastes and budgets. As they are more likely to visit an abundance of centrally-located tourist attractions, most visitors are unlikely to learn about two facets plaguing everyday life for İstanbullular: the city's traffic congestion and lack of green spaces. Istanbul is the city with the least amount of green space in Europe, amounting to just 2.2% of its total area (compared to 40% in Helsinki). [1] [2] In fact, only Middle Eastern cities like Baghdad, Cairo, Dubai and Riyadh have less green space. [3]

Friday, 17 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Amid the delivery of more than 230 T-72 MBTs from Poland, 126 M777 howitzers from the U.S. and Harpoon anti-ship missiles (AShMs) from the Netherlands, it is easy to overlook smaller equipment donations to Ukraine even though many more countries have contributed in their own respective ways. [1] One of these nations is Lithuania, which in addition to supplying Ukraine with military equipment from its own stocks, has also been the scene of several remarkable crowdfunding campaigns such as those launched by local journalist and TV anchor Andrius Tapinas.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Republic of Lithuania managed to grab headlines with its successful crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Almost 6 million euro was raised in just three and a half days mostly by Lithuania – a country of only 2.8 million people. During a visit to Baykar to discuss the delivery of the TB2 (which Baykar decide to donate free of charge) in June, Lithuania's Deputy Defence Minister Vilius Semeška revealed that the acquisition of six TB2s for the Lithuanian Air Force had also been discussed. [1]

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
As much of Western Europe appears to have finally woken up to the necessity of concrete military power for security, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania already realised the requirement to prepare themselves to deal with Russian aggression in the Baltic region since Russia's annexation of Crimea in early 2014. Correspondingly, each country has since drastically expanded the size and readiness of its armed forces. Whilst initially mostly purchasing small arms, ATGMs and MANPADS to equip active and reserve forces, further investments have meanwhile paved the way for the acquisition of air defence and anti-ship missile systems, long-range artillery and hundreds of AFVs.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

Transnistria, officially known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), has churned out a number of highly interesting armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) designs over the past decade. Unable to replace its dated inventory of Soviet weaponry ever since proclaiming independence in the early 1990s, the country has instead sought to supplement its vehicle park with a number of homegrown vehicle designs. Many of these are based on already existing AFVs, which are then modified to suit an entirely new role. Arguably the best examples of this are the MT-LB SPAAG and the BTRG-127 'Bumblebee' APC, the latter of which originally started its career as the GMZ-3 minelayer vehicle. [1]

Friday, 10 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. (By Desmond Tutu)

Western countries have scrambled to provide the Ukrainian military with an expansive arsenal of military hardware and ammunition to help it fend off an onslaught of Russian offensives throughout Ukraine. Many of these weapon systems are relatively easy to use and readily available from Western stocks, while others are of greater complexity, in some cases requiring weeks of training for Ukrainian servicemen to master their new mounts. This includes types such as the PzH 2000 self-propelled gun (SPG) delivered by the Netherlands and Germany, as well as M270 and HIMARS multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) donated by the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. [1] [2]

Thursday, 9 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Türkiye's Navy is set to dominate the depths of the Aegan Sea and beyond through the introduction of six locally-assembled Type-214TN Reis class submarines featuring air-independent propulsion (AIP) throughout the 2020s. [1] Their entry into service is to be followed by the design and production of the MILDEN class of submarines, a fully indigenous type of hunter-killer submarine that will be armed with indigenous 533mm AKYA heavyweight torpedoes, 220+km ranged Atmaca anti-ship missiles (AShMs) and 1000+km ranged Gezgin land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs).

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
 
Russia's anti-aircraft artillery forces are perhaps best known for operating large numbers of vicious-looking 2K22 Tunguska and Pantsir-S1 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SPAAGs). Limited numbers of ZSU-23 Shilkas continue to see service as well, with at least four of them lost during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. [1] Newer fighting vehicles in this category and modernisation packages for them continue to be developed to this day, including newer variants of both the Pantsir and Tunguska. Perhaps it's all the more ironic therefore that the latest addition to Russia's anti-aircraft arsenal is in fact a DIY SPAAG currently deployed with the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) in the breakaway state of Transnistria.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

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By Joost Oliemans and Stijn Mitzer

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is about to mark its one hundredth day. With its goals unreached, its army struck back, a country in ruins, and the scope of its destruction ever escalating, the Special Operation is increasingly starting to resemble the war that should never have been fought – the one that determines not just the future of Ukraine, but also of Russia and with it the entirety of Europe. The Russian military now finds itself in an entirely new phase of the conflict, wherein the dice of fate are recast as Russian objectives have taken on a much more limited and realistic character, yet stocks of modern weaponry are depleting, and Ukraine is beginning to field ever more advanced NATO-supplied armament. [1]