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By Joseph E. Fallon and Robin Ashby

Baltic Fleet 42 bigIs Russia a threat in the Baltic area? S.B. Ivanov, former Russian Federation Defence Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister, discussing the meaning of "threat" a decade ago, said that its content had drastically changed from the purely standard military threats to the so-called uncertainty factors, which are understood by the Russian Federation Defence Ministry to mean the situation, conflict or process, "which can bring about a significant change of geopolitical environment in the regions of Russia's vital interests, or can directly endanger its security."

The Baltic Sea is a major theatre in what's being described as the new Cold War between NATO and Russia. It is a relatively small body of water on the northeastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by landmasses in nearly all directions. Its surface area is slightly larger than Finland's and its mean depth is only 54 metres. The Baltic Sea is connected to the world oceans only by the narrow Danish straits, which connect it to the North Sea. The Danish straits are formed by two straits immediately next to each other: The Öresund strait on the coast of Sweden and the Belt Sea on the coast of Denmark, which is comprised of the Skagerrak and Kattegat

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The name HMS Pickle, a schooner with only five cannon, may not call forth patriots today, but it was a stirring sight on the night of 5-6 June 1829 when, after a deadly exchange of cannon fire at close range, she captured the slaver Voladora off Cuba, with slaves bound for American plantations.

The Voladora was larger and had a crew twice the size, but the Pickle under J.B.B. MacHardy closed, and after an action of 80 minutes the Voladora, the mainmast shot away, the sails repeatedly holed, and rigging trailing over the stern, surrendered. The British had lost four men, their opponents at least fourteen. 223 African men and 97 African women who had been bought in Africa were freed. 32 slaves had already died on the voyage. The British crew imprisoned the slavers in their own chains. The victory was celebrated in Britain, with memorable paintings depicting the plucky triumph of the smaller crew.

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UKR gunThe outbreak of a major war in Europe has been a shock to many. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 has shaken the west out of its post Cold War torpor. The increasing belligerence of Putin's Russia led NATO members to increase their readiness, including the deployment of forces close to the eastern borders of the Alliance. It has also meant a recapitalisation of equipment in many NATO members including the UK. In July 2023 Nick Watts was able to visit an AS 90 self-propelled gun that the UK has gifted to the Ukrainian armed forces. They were in a location somewhere in southern Ukraine.

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Dr Evan Ellis downloadEvolving political dynamics and international tensions in the year 2024 pose significant challenges to the rules-based world order, writes Dr Evan Ellis. A series of events that have contributed to the deterioration of the normative structures established by the Allied powers at the end of World War II are analyzed. From territorial threats and military aggression to the proliferation of illiberal governments and the strategic influence of the PRC, key factors that are transforming the global scene are explored. The interconnectedness between changing political, economic and security dynamics reveals the complexity of contemporary challenges and highlights the urgency of critically examining the international system's ability to address these evolving problems. This article seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of current events impacting the global order and offers insights into possible future directions.

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668px-Edward Teach Commonly Calld Black Beard bwThe UK Defence Forum has done quick media trawl.

Houthi rebels have used one-way attack (OWA) drones and anti-ship missiles to target shipping in the Red Sea.

https://www.centcom.mil/MEDIA/PRESS-RELEASES/Press-Release-View/Article/3605010/houthi-attacks-on-commercial-shipping-in-international-water-continue/

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joseph.fallonIn the undeclared war in the Red Sea and Yemen, the U.S. has misjudged the Houthis, "part of the Bakil confederation, the largest tribal group in Yemen", as it previously had misjudged the Taliban. In doing so, Washington has provided the Houthis, as it did the Taliban, an opportunity to "bleed' America of money and material, undermining an aging U.S. military machine already overstretched, underfunded, undermanned, and lacking the means to successfully fight wars simultaneously in Europe and Asia. This is the real threat Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea pose to U.S. national security, writes Joseph E Fallon.

In "Who are the Houthis and why are they attacking Red Sea ships?," January 15, 2024, the BBC reported "Following the start of the war in the Gaza Strip, the Houthis started firing drones and missiles towards Israel. Most have been intercepted. On 19 November, the Houthis hijacked a commercial ship in the Red Sea and have since attacked more than two dozen others with drones, missiles and speed boats. US-led naval forces thwarted many of the attacks. The Houthis say they are targeting ships which are Israeli-owned, flagged or operated, or which are heading to Israeli ports. However, many have no connections with Israel."

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Rose 10382129 10152575359311122 29431050027067224 oWe mark the passing of those who have served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome. Contact curator

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Dr Evan Ellis downloadRevisiting the Monroe Doctrine - first proclaimed in 1823 by US President James Monroe - should lead us to ask anew how to appropriately engage with our neighbours in Latin America, a task made all the more imperative today by the troubling and often unnoticed activities of China, Russia, and Iran in the hemisphere we share, writes Dr Evan Ellis

As the Monroe Doctrine turns 200, its continued success depends on Latin America's choices, rather than its obedience. If Latin America stands in solidarity with the U.S. against the new generation of extra-hemispheric threats, it'll be not because the U.S. demands it, but because the region recognizes that doing so is in its own self-interest.

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MoDIMG 20181218 1521345 2Promotions in and appointments to the military division of the most honourable order of the Bath

As Knight Commander

Lieutenant General Robert Andrew MAGOWAN, CB, CBE

As Dame Commander

Lieutenant General Sharon Patricia Moffat NESMITH

The remainder of the list is in the next page

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