Investigation against officers from German police office’s security group: According to a team from the „Tagesschau“ newspaper, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office is investigating several bodyguards from the security group (SG), which is responsible for protecting government members, members of parliament and state guests. The investigations are specifically targeting a chat group in which racist and sexist content was shared. In addition, investigators are examining threats, missing ammunition and contacts with private security companies. The investigations are primarily concerned with the BKA unit that is responsible for providing protection on trips abroad.
Czechs say Russian retaliation stronger than expected: The Czech Republic said on Monday Russia’s eviction of 20 Czech embassy employees in response to Prague’s expulsion of 18 Russian staff was a stronger than expected reaction and the government will consider further steps. Acting Czech Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said Russia had expelled more diplomats than the number of intelligence officers that the Czech Republic had expelled. He asked the EU for a show of solidarity. On Sunday, Russia ordered 20 Czech diplomats to leave the country within a day in response to the Czech government’s expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats it identified as spies from the GRU and the SVR, Russia’s military and foreign intelligence services. The Czech government has said it has reasonable suspicion that two Russian intelligence agents accused of a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were behind the ammunition depot blasts four years before that killed two people. On Monday, Industry Minister Karel Havlicek announced that the Czech government will not invite Russia’s Rosatom to take part in security assessments before a planned tender for a new unit at the Dukovany nuclear power plant.
reuters.com, apnews.com, reuters.com
Opponents of Myanmar coup form unity government: Opponents of Myanmar’s junta announced a National Unity Government on Friday including ousted members of parliament and leaders of anti-coup protests and ethnic minorities, saying their aim was to end military rule and restore democracy. Meanwhile, EU countries expanded sanctions against Myanmar’s military leadership, targeting ten individuals and two military-controlled companies, Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC). The EU said the individuals targeted by sanctions are all responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar/Burma, and for repressive decisions and serious human rights violations. The goal of the punishments, said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, is to force the military into talks. “We’re turning up the pressure in order to get the military to the negotiating table,” Maas said.
reuters.com, consilium.europa.eu, politico.eu
Germany promises help for local staff amid Afghan withdrawal: NATO allies are set to join the United States in pulling their remaining troops out of Afghanistan, starting on May 1. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wants the country to take in Afghan nationals who helped the German military during the war in Afghanistan, she told the German news agency DPA in remarks published Sunday. “We are talking here about people who in some cases have worked for years by our side, at danger to their own safety, also have fought with us and made their personal contribution,” she said, adding that Germany had a deep obligation not to leave these people behind unprotected. Kramp-Karrenbauer also said that helping local personnel was a responsibility of all international forces in Afghanistan to ensure the safety of the Afghan staff.
Somalia’s president signs law extending his term: Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has signed a disputed law extending his mandate for two years, the state news agency reported, drawing condemnation from the United States and other allies who viewed it as a naked power grab that could upend faltering efforts to establish a functioning state in Somalia and defeat the insurgency by the extremist group Al Shabab. The move represented a worst-case scenario for United Nations and Western officials, who had been shuttling for months between Mohamed and Somali regional leaders locked in a bitter dispute over when and how to hold parliamentary and presidential elections that were scheduled to take place by early February.
US Secretary of Defense: US adds 500 troops in Germany, despite Trump pledge apnews.com
Defense: Deal on new European fighter jet needed by April – minister reuters.com
Gun register: 5,300 fewer private firearms in Thuringia thueringer-allgemeine.de
Covid: Italy stops vaccinating soldiers with AstraZeneca rainews.it
Ukraine conflict: Biden, Merkel call on Russia to draw back troops from Ukrainian border france24.com
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At least 2,700 people have been killed in Mozambique since the first attack by the “al-Shabab” militia three and a half years ago.
Bundeswehr researches drone swarms: In various projects, the military and the defense industry are investigating the networking of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. For the Air Force, they could in small numbers support air combat; for the Army, they can detect and destroy nearby targets in large swarms. From 2022, the European Defense Agency wants to fund corresponding research. The planned project is called „Autonomous, Reconfigurable Swarms of Unmanned Vehicles for Defense Applications“ (ACHILLES); the unmanned aerial vehicles are to carry out surveillance tasks. The project also includes the possible integration of the networked drones into the airspace controlled by civilian air traffic controllers.
NRW data protection authority sees inadmissible data mining in use of Palantir software: Police in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been using the data analysis software from Palantir since autumn 2020 in order to be able to take action against criminal offenses more quickly. The state data protection officer has now told news magazine „Spiegel“ that he has concerns about this use of the software. According to a recent data protection assessment by the authority, the use of Palantir was classified as inadmissible. At the request of the news magazine, it was said that there was currently „no legal basis for using“ the software. Using it regardless would be illegal. The software „Cross-Database Analysis and Research“ (DAR), which has been in test operation since October, is based on the Gotham software of the US company Palantir and is intended to help the police fight serious crimes. However, not just data that the police already have is processed, but also data from external databases – residents‘ registers, national weapons register, VISA information system, etc. North Rhine-Westphalia’s interior ministry spoke of a „possible misunderstanding“, saying the software was not collecting data automatically, only accessing it with „manually initiated individual queries“, which, according to the ministry, is not data mining.
Drone defense has not yet been used in Bavarian prisons: It has been almost six months since the Bavarian justice ministry invested around 75,000 euros in a drone defense system for prisons. In response to a request from the German Press Agency (dpa), the ministry has now stated that the system has yet to be used. „Fortunately, drone overflights are not the order of the day here,“ said a ministry spokeswoman. Only on November 18, a drone was spotted over the Straubing prison. However, since it was at a great height, it was not shot down. According to Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich, between 2015 and 2020, 57 drones were sighted on the premises or in the immediate vicinity of Bavarian prisons. People tried to smuggle in things twice: sometimes a cell phone, sometimes drugs. This was never successful anyway.
„The great administrative assistance of the Bundeswehr in combating the pandemic helps to improve the population’s opinion of the Bundeswehr.“
The defense commissioner of Germany’s parliament, Eva Högl, believes that the work of the Bundeswehr at home in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic will help it gain a better reputation in society.
Biden confirms $23bn arms sales to UAE: US President Joe Biden’s administration has confirmed a $23 billion weapons deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including advanced F-35 jets, armed drones, and other weapons, reported Reuters. A State Department spokesperson said the administration would move forward with the proposed sales to the UAE, “even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials” related to the use of the weapons.