EU states agreed to set up a new HQ for military training missions on Monday (6 March) in what some see as the nucleus of a future European army.
The HQ, to be called a Military Planning and Conduct Capability facility, will be housed in an EU building on Avenue Cortenbergh in Brussels which already hosts EU military experts, the EU Military Staff.
The HQ is to start work in April and to take charge of three existing EU training missions - in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Mali, and in Somalia - in the next few months.
A senior EU official said on Monday that the HQ would take care of the missions’ administrative and financial needs and would brief EU diplomats on what they were doing.
The official said that, under current arrangements, military commanders in the field in Mali or Somalia, for instance, had to go back and forth to Brussels to do the work.
“Now the field commander can concentrate on field issues”, the official said.
The official said the HQ would also help to coordinate the missions' logistical, medical, legal, and communications' needs.
The official added that the HQ might, following a review in 2018, take charge of military missions that have a combat element, such as Sophia, the EU naval operation designed to fight human smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea.
France, Germany, and Italy have led the push for deeper EU military integration as a reaction to the UK’s decision to leave the bloc and due to increasing instability in Europe’s eastern and southern neighbourhood.
Italy, in a “vision” paper last September, called for the creation of a “powerful and usable European Force that can also be employed in support to Nato or UN operations”.
Nuclear-armed North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as global condemnation of the regime swelled.
Three of the four missiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump.
In a phone call, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the threat from North Korea had "entered a new stage".
The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday after a request by Washington and Tokyo to discuss additional measures following the launch.
Under UN resolutions, Pyongyang is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology, and the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world "won't allow" North Korea to continue on its "destructive path".
But six sets of UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.
Kim Jong-Un gave the order for the drill to start, the North's official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
"Feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets", he praised the Hwasong artillery unit that carried it out, it said.
"The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation, he said," the agency added, referring to Kim.
The military units involved are "tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency", KCNA said.
Once again, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian military's Anti-Terror Operation (ATO) took to the podium on Sunday to announce that the Russian-backed fighters had broken the ceasefire more than 100 times in the previous 24 hours.
Ten Ukrainian soldiers were wounded and one killed in 110 incidents across the front. Of particular note, heavy weaponry such as 122 mm and 152 mm artillery pieces were reportedly used -- weapons that are banned by the Minsk agreement, the current peace process that has failed to produce a sustainable ceasefire since it was introduced in September 2014.
In the Mariupol sector, "122mm artillery systems and mortars of various calibers" were used to shell villages across the front, according to Unian.info. In the Lugansk sector, both 122 mm and 152 mm artillery was used.
Tanks, mortars, and sniper fire were also reported in multiple locations across the Donetsk sector.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports that civilian casualties in the affected region of the Donbass have doubled in just the last month:
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