Tag Archives: scrap

Russia Moves to Scrap Black Sea Fleet Agreements with Ukraine

By on Monday, March 31st, 2014

Russia has begun preparations for terminating bilateral agreements with Ukraine related to the status and operation of the Black Sea Fleet, a Kremlin spokesman said Friday.

The decision was made at a meeting of the country’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

According to spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the measures to be scrapped include a 1997 agreement on the conditions of the fleet’s stay in Crimea, which was extended by 25 years in a 2010 deal by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

In exchange, Ukraine received a discount of $100 on each 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas imported from Russia, which was provided for by cutting export duties on the gas, money that would have gone into the Russian state budget.

A bill to void the agreements was submitted to the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, on Friday afternoon.

The Russian Black Sea fleet is headquartered in Sevastopol, a city with special status within Crimea, which became Russian territory last week after 60 years as part of Ukraine.

The Kremlin said earlier this month that as the base is no longer located in Ukraine, there were no legal grounds for the discount to be continued.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last Friday that Moscow would seek a reimbursement of the $11 billion Russia lost while the discount was in place.

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France May Scrap Russian Warship Deal over Ukraine Crisis

By on Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Paris will consider canceling a 1.4-billion-euro deal to deliver two Mistral-class warships to the Russian Navy if Moscow provokes further escalation in Ukraine, the French foreign minister has said.

In the interview with France’s TF1, Laurent Fabius denied the legitimacy of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea to join Russia and urged Moscow to take urgent measures to avoid “useless and dangerous” escalation in Ukraine.

The first French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, named Vladivostok, capable of deploying helicopters and tanks, was due to arrive in Russia by the year-end under a June 2011 contract signed between Russia and France.

A second Mistral-class warship, the Sevastopol, is due to arrive in 2015 and become part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquartered in Crimea.

“If Putin carries on like this, we could consider canceling these sales,” Fabius said Monday adding that the possible loss of the contracts could be negative for the French economy.

The French foreign minister said such move would be part of “phase three” of economic sanctions against Moscow. “Now we are at phase two,” he said.

Fabius emphasized that the sanctions must affect everyone and urged the United Kingdom to “do something equivalent with the assets of the Russian oligarchs in London.”

The remarks came after US and EU imposed sanctions Monday on senior Russian officials following a referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea in which voters overwhelmingly supported secession and reunification with Russia.

Those named on the US and EU lists of sanctions are banned from entry into the US and EU member states and their financial assets will be frozen.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month sanctions against Russia would cause mutual damage in the modern world, when everything is interconnected and everybody depends on each other.

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Swiss reject plan to scrap military draft

Switzerland’s voters Sunday rejected a plan to axe the country’s military draft, bucking Europe’s anti-conscription trend and sticking to a tradition as Swiss as chocolate and cheese.

Results from Sunday’s referendum showed an overwhelming 73 percent vote against scrapping compulsory military service, and just 27 percent in favour.

Armed neutrality has been the cornerstone of Switzerland’s defence policy for almost two centuries, with soldiers straddling the civilian and military worlds, keeping their weapons at home when they are not in training.

The plan was opposed by the political right and centre, as well as parliament and Switzerland’s cross-party government.

“This is a strong sign of support for our army and our security,” said Defence Minister Ueli Maurer, who currently holds Switzerland’s rotating presidency.

Christophe Darbellay, leader of the centrist Christian Democrats, also hailed the result.

“This shows how attached the Swiss are to their militia army,” he said.

The Swiss apply the label “militia” not only to their army, but also to the national tradition of part-time politicians, volunteer firefighters and others who serve the public.

Male Swiss citizens aged between 18 and 32 begin service with a seven-week boot camp and take six 19-day refresher exercises over ensuing years. Since 1992, non-military service, for example in environmental projects, has been available for conscientious objectors.

Direct democracy is another bedrock of Swiss society.

The question on Sunday’s ballot papers was a basic “Yes” or “No” for ending compulsory military service.

“The people weren’t taken in by this wrongheaded question,” said Denis Froidevaux, head of the Swiss Officers’ Association.

“That doesn’t mean that criticism or proposals should be ignored,” he added, signalling the military’s openness to reform.

For budgetary and strategic reasons, Switzerland had repeatedly reduced its number of trained troops from 625,000 five decades ago to 155,000 today.

By 2016, the headcount is set to be 100,000 — a leaner and fitter force, supporters say.

Vote about ‘Swiss identity’

But critics say that is still way too big in a nation of eight million. In comparison, neighbouring Germany has 10 times the population and 183,000 active troops.

While many Swiss cherish their military tradition, there is also an anti-army current in a country which has not been invaded since the early 1800s, despite major scares during World Wars I and II.

Anti-draft campaigners say that Switzerland should follow other European countries which have ditched the draft since the end of the Cold War.

Spearheaded by pacifists and left-wing parties, the “Yes” camp acknowledged that it had faced an uphill fight.

“I think the main reason is that the vote ended up being seen as about the Swiss identity, with citizen-soldiers standing ready to defend the borders,” said Tobias Schnebli of the anti-military group GSoA.

“But it’s the worst thing in the world to think that something is natural just because it exists,” he told AFP.

“The over-fifties have a particular vision of Switzerland. We place our hopes in today’s younger generation, the ones who don’t see it as us against the outside world.”

The pacifist campaigners will now aim to muster support for a vote against the planned purchase of 22 Swedish Gripen fighter jets.

Draft supporters say that while Switzerland is ringed by friendly nations, the army in its current shape is essential in a world of morphing threats, and plays a key role in disaster relief.

They also underline that European nations which axed conscription struggle to fill their ranks even with unemployment high amid the economic crisis.

They also say the draft helps cement a country with three main language groups — German, French and Italian — and cuts across class lines.

Critics reject those arguments, saying the prospect of invasion is a fantasy, that language groups stick together when in uniform, women do not have to serve, and almost half of draftees do not start or complete their training on health or other grounds, with middle class urban dwellers more able to avoid it.

Men who do not serve in the military pay a special tax of four percent of their salary instead.

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Former UK aircraft carrier towed to Turkey for scrap

By on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

HMS Ark Royal, formerly Britain’s flagship aircraft carrier, sailed out of its home port on Monday to be scrapped in Turkey.

Britain, which has always prided itself on its sea power, will have to do without the ability to launch jets at sea until 2020 as it tries to balance its books and two new carriers are built.

Crowds lined the harbour walls at Portsmouth on the English south coast to say farewell to the “Mighty Ark”. Some onlookers wore black armbands or waved flags.

The warship, which saw active service in the Balkans and the second war in Iraq, is being towed to Izmir on Turkey’s west coast. It was sold as scrap to recycling firm Leyal, for £2.9 million ($4.4 million, 3.4 million euros).

HMS Ark Royal and its sister aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Illustrious were the biggest ships in Britain’s navy — a key part not only of Britain’s defence but also its ability to project power worldwide.

Invincible was sold to Leyal for scrap in 2011, while Illustrious is serving as a helicopter landing platform and ministers hope to preserve her for the nation after it retires next year.

Britain will have no carrier strike capability until two new, bigger Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers come into service from 2020.

Ark Royal sailed back into Portsmouth in December 2010 as part of eight percent defence spending cuts introduced by Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government in a bid to shrink Britain’s budget deficit.

“Ark Royal, like her sister ships, has served this country with great distinction,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman told AFP.

“Retiring her five years earlier than planned was a difficult decision but it was the right one that, combined with her sale, has saved over £100 million.

“A decommissioning ceremony was held in March 2011 to pay tribute to her 31 years’ service with the Royal Navy.”

London decided to decommission the Ark Royal and also retire the fleet of Harrier jets deployed on board.

The Queen Elizabeth Class carriers were ordered in part because it would be more expensive to scrap pre-agreed contracts.

The government felt it could bridge the 10-year carrier gap by using foreign bases and overfly rights if required.

There have been five ships called Ark Royal, all of which were aircraft carriers except the first — a wooden sailing ship that saw battle in 1588 in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

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