Quotulatiousness

October 20, 2017

Operation Albion Concludes – Allied Failures In Belgium I THE GREAT WAR Week 169

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 19 Oct 2017

100 years ago this week, Operation Albion comes to a successful end for the Germans, as revolution is on the horizon in Russia. The Allies aren’t faring quite so well on the Western Front, where the weather continues to worsen and the death toll climbs ever higher. Haig believes a breakthrough is imminent and German morale is tested. The stalemate continues, but sooner or later the Battle of Passchendaele must come to an end.

October 9, 2017

Great Northern War – Lies – Extra History

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 7 Oct 2017

Could Sweden have won the Great Northern War? Was Charles XII actually assassinated? James answers questions from our Patreon supporters in this special edition of Lies!

December 11, 2016

Baltic Sea Battles – Tanks On Other Fronts I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 10 Dec 2016

Indy sits in the Chair of Wisdom again to answer your questions about World War 1. This week we talk about naval battles in the Baltic Sea and the use of tanks on other fronts than the Western Front.

March 27, 2016

The Russian Navy – Submarines – Trench Mortar I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 26 Mar 2016

More pictures from Flo’s Great Grandfather: https://imgur.com/a/R1T92

It’s chair of wisdom time again and this week we talk about the Russian Navy in the Baltic Sea, submarine warfare and trench mortars.

April 25, 2015

Finnish divers binge on 200-year-old wine and beer

Filed under: Europe, History, Wine — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Perhaps “binge” isn’t quite the right word to use…

Finnish divers recently discovered several crates of champagne and beer from a sunken ship that had been at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for nearly two centuries. The experts carefully identified, researched, and analyzed the alcohol…then they drank it.

The divers discovered the wreck just south of Aaland, a Finland-controlled archipelago of some 6,500 small islands in the Baltic Sea. Inside the sunken schooner, they found 168 bottles of champagne and an undisclosed amount of bottles of beer. The ship itself likely dates back to the second quarter of the 19th century, making its cargo almost certainly the oldest alcoholic drinks in existence. By comparison, the oldest wines in private hands are only thought to date back to the very end of the 1800s.

This entire story is a good reminder of a basic scientific truth — when in doubt, start drinking the 200-year-old booze. The divers first discovered the champagne was drinkable when changing pressures caused the cork to pop off one of the bottles, and a diver decided to take a swig. He expected to taste seawater that had seeped into the bottle over the last 200 years — which raises very legitimate questions about just why he decided to take a sip in the first place — but was shocked to discover the wine still tasted fine.

H/T to Never Yet Melted, for linking to a story from 2010.

April 22, 2015

Denmark’s Bornholm Island draws Russian attention

Filed under: Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

At Strategy Page, Austin Bay talks about the unusual attention paid to a Danish island in the Baltic Sea by Russian military forces:

Denmark’s Bornholm Island apparently troubles Vladimir Putin’s 21st-century Kremlin war planners as much as it vexed their Cold War Soviet-era predecessors.

More on Bornholm’s specifics in a moment, but first let’s cover one more example of Putin Russia’s aggressive wrong doing. According to an open-source Danish security assessment, in mid-June 2014, three months after Putin’s Kremlin attacked and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, Russian aircraft carrying live missiles bluffed an attack on Bornholm. Though the report doesn’t provide the exact date, the bomber “probe” occurred during the three-day period the island hosted a touchy-feely “peoples festival.” The festival’s 90,000 participants were unaware they were seeking peaceful solutions on a bulls-eye.

The Bornholm faux-attack reprised Soviet Cold War “tests” of Danish defenses and is but one of a score of serious Russian military probes since 2008 designed to rattle Northern Europe. These Kremlin air and naval probes, backed by harsh rhetoric, have led Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland to reassess their military defenses. “Nordic cooperation” with an emphasis on territorial defense was the first formulation. The Nordics, however, acknowledged ties to Baltic states (and NATO members) Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since the Crimea invasion, Denmark and Norway (NATO members) want to reinvigorate NATO military capabilities. Continued Russian aggression in Ukraine has led a few habitually neutral Swedes to voice an interest in joining NATO.

Bornholm Island (via Google Maps)

Bornholm Island (via Google Maps)

Back to Bornholm: the island’s location and geology irritated Soviet-era Kremlin strategists. Located in the Baltic Sea east of peninsular Denmark, north of Poland’s coast and to the rear of what was East Germany, Bornholm gave the Free World outpost north of and behind Warsaw Pact lines.

Soviet communications security officers despised the place. Bornholm’s electronic intercept systems, quite literally, bugged them.

As for geology, unlike Jutland’s flat peninsula, Bornholm is rock. In the 1970s, while serving a U.S. Army tour in West Germany, I heard a senior officer describe Bornholm as “sort of a Gibraltar.” His exaggeration had a point. Dig tunnels and Bornholm became a hard target for Soviet conventional weapons.

February 28, 2015

How worried are Russia’s neighbours? Norway reacts to re-opened northern bases that have been shut down since the Cold War

Filed under: Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:18

In the Guardian, Julian Borger reports on restructuring in Norway’s defence establishment in reaction to Russian expansionism:

Norway’s defence minister has said her country’s armed forces will be restructured so they can respond faster to what she called increased Russian aggression.

Ine Eriksen Soreide said that Russia had recently re-opened military bases in its far north that had been shut down after the cold war, and that there had also been an increase in flights by Russian warplanes close to Norwegian airspace.

“We have seen in the first couple of months of this year a certain increase compared to the same period last year and … an increased complexity. We see they fly longer, they fly with more different kinds of airplanes and their patterns are different than they used to be,” Soreide told the Guardian during a visit to London.

“They have not breached our territory and that is different from what is happening in the Baltic Sea area. They are breaching territory there all the time and in the Baltic area they have also seen three times as many flights as normal or usual,” she added.

Soreide said Norway was stepping up military cooperation with the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — as a means of reassuring them that they were fully covered by Nato’s collective security umbrella. Furthermore, Norway was “absolutely” ready to expand training of Ukrainian soldiers, she said, predicting that more Nato states would follow the British example of dispatching trainers and non-lethal equipment to support Ukraine.

“On the political level I think it is important to define what we are seeing, that this is aggression — whether you see it as cyber threats or information campaign and conventional warfare, it is aggression what they are doing in Ukraine. And I think it’s important to say this, and that we do not accept this towards Nato countries,” the defence minister said.

Update: Re-worded the headline to reflect the fact that it was Russian bases being re-opened, not Norwegian facilities.

February 25, 2015

How worried are Russia’s neighbours? Lithuania just re-introduced conscription

Filed under: Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

A report from the Lithuania Tribune details a change in Lithuanian defence policy:

The State Defence Council, comprising of the Lithuanian president, prime minister, parliament speaker, defence minister and army chief, decided on Tuesday to reintroduce military conscription in Lithuania.

The conscription, which was suspended several years ago as Lithuania opted for the professional army, should be reintroduced in light of the changes in geopolitical situation, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said after the meeting.

“We must reinforce the country’s defence capacities. Under new geopolitical circumstances, the army must be properly prepared for the country’s armed defence even in times of peace. Today’s geopolitical situation requires that we strengthen and speed up the manning of our army. Therefore the State Defence Council has decided that it is necessary to temporarily, for five years, reintroduce compulsory military draft,” President Grybauskaitė said.

Under the proposal, compulsory military service would apply to men between the ages of 19 and 26. The plan is to draft between 3,000 and 3,500 men each year. Exemptions would apply to university students, single fathers, men with health issues or otherwise unsuitable for military service.

In Newsweek, Damien Sharkov reports on the high tempo of Russian “training” missions near the Baltic states:

Increasingly frequent snap military drills being carried out by Russia near its eastern European neighbours could be part of a strategy that will open the door for a Russian offensive on the Baltic states according to defence expert Martin Hurt, deputy director at Estonia’s International Centre for Defence and Security.

The Lithuanian and Estonian defence ministries have expressed alarm at the increased military activity, and drawn comparisons with moves prior to the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Commenting on Russia’s announcement last week that its armed forces will not cease holding snap military exercises, Hurt, who has previously worked for Estonia’s Ministry of Defence as well as for the armed forces of both Estonia and Sweden, warned against taking this news lightly.

“My take would be that the Russian authorities want to raise the readiness of their forces and also make European nations more relaxed to a new norm where the Russian Armed Force often conduct snap exercises,” Hurt says.

According to him, a relaxed European attitude about increased Russian military activity would be “extremely dangerous” for the democratic governments of Europe and particularly for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“A realistic scenario against the Baltics would be a ‘normal’ Russian snap exercise that without notice turns into a quick assault on one or several of the Baltic states’ capitals. Such an attack would have greater probability of success than the hybrid scenario we saw in Crimea,” Hurt adds.

“A decisive move by Putin assuming that the weak leaders of Europe will not react quickly and ‘avoid escalation’ is a possible scenario,” Hurt adds, highlighting that “the higher readiness NATO forces have, the better it is for the democratic part of Europe.”

October 12, 2014

Finnish research vessel harassed by Russian navy ships

Filed under: Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:29

Uutiset reports on a Finnish marine research ship’s run-ins with the Russians in the Baltic Sea:

Finnish research vessel SS Aranda near Turun Linna

Finnish research vessel SS Aranda near Turun Linna (via Wikipedia).

The Russian Navy has twice interfered in the movements of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) marine research vessel Aranda in international waters. According to SYKE, the two incidents occurred in August and September, when Aranda was conducting research for the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute off the coast of Sweden. In both incidents, the Russian warship attempted to prohibit the research vessel from accessing a sampling location in international waters east of the Swedish island of Gotland.

In the first incident on August 2, the Russian warship made radio contact with Aranda and urged it twice to change course. The Aranda initially obeyed the request, but at the second warning, the ship’s crew replied that it would not deter and intended to stop at the research point as planned. At this time, the crew of the Aranda observed a submarine moving along the surface of the water.

The second incident on September 2 saw a Russian helicopter approach Aranda several times. After this, a nearby Russian warship took a course directly towards the ship’s stern, passing the boat in very close proximity. The Aranda maintained its course and speed throughout the incident.

October 23, 2009

Wreck of WW1 British submarine found in Baltic

Filed under: Britain, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:48

BBC News reports on a recent discovery by the Australian descendent of the only survivor of the sinking:

The wreck of a British naval submarine lost for more than 90 years has been found in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Estonia.

HMS E18 – with its complement of three officers and 28 ratings – went out on patrol in May 1916 and was never seen again.

The submarine was one of a handful sent to the Baltic during World War I by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, to disrupt German shipments of iron ore from Sweden and support the Russian navy.

E18 left its base in the Russian port of Reval – now Tallinn, the capital of Estonia – on the evening of 25 May 1916 and headed west.

The following day she was reported to have engaged and torpedoed a German ship.

A few days later, possibly 2 June, she is believed to have struck a German mine and sunk with all hands.

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