NATO troops and Russian saber-rattling along the borders

Tens of thousands of troops set in motion in the area from the Baltic to the Black sea — NATO and Russia begin a series of military exercises of such a scale that the continent not seen since the cold war.

Both sides claim that military maneuvers involving aircraft, warships, tanks and artillery, are purely defensive in nature. However, it is clear that they are intended to demonstrate new technologies and capabilities, as well as to show not only the strength of alliances, but also how quickly the soldiers and heavy equipment can be relocated to eliminate threats at the border.

The most ambitious action on the part of NATO maneuvers Saber Guardian 17 is, in fact, more than a dozen separate military exercises involving up to 25 thousand troops from 20 countries, and they are held in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

Submitted by local military leadership, and the script looks like this: advanced technology ground troops entered the territory of NATO and threaten the Alliance as a whole. These exercises include testing of defense, the firing of tank guns with live ammunition, support aircraft and helicopters movement on the ground, conducting electronic warfare and landing. “To curb need the right capabilities, it needs to be sure that every potential enemy is well known: we are ready to do everything necessary, — said in an interview with reporters during the exercise the commander of land forces, Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges (Ben Hodges). — Leads to the escalation of our weakness and lack of connections, lack of training — that is the pretext for aggression”.

However, the increase of military capabilities does not mean that the war begins, he added. “The Russians only respect strength, and if we show unity, if we show that we are together that we are ready, then I think we have nothing to worry about”.

This rapid review highlights the General feature of the planning exercise Saber Guardian, the documents of which Russia is not mentioned as the enemy, but obviously meant the Kremlin.

The script for these maneuvers based on the invasion of NATO territory equipped with modern weapons of the enemy armed forces, the purpose of which is to capture economic assets black sea countries. In the educational battle on the training ground the Cliff in Romania American Romanian helicopters and the Apache helicopters coordinated the work of artillery on the ground, and help the infantry units to deter enemy attack was supported by American Abrams tanks and 650 different vehicles.

The United States plans to spend about 23 million dollars for the expansion of this Romanian base in order to be able to carry out in the future, even more ambitious, more complex exercises. And on the other side of the fence is the containment of Russia, which is preparing to host in the coming weeks a series of exercises called “West”, which will be used 100 thousand soldiers. Approval of the Kremlin, 12700 servicemen will take part in doctrines “the West” on the territory of Belarus and Russia. However, Western experts believe that Moscow is likely to increase the number of people employed in these maneuvers of soldiers on tens of thousands of people. According to the Vienna document, adopted in 2011, foreign observers should be present on any exercise, which involved more than 13 thousand troops.

Reducing that number, but at the same time pursuing several other major exercises, Moscow could avoid the presence of observers and to control the message about the effect of her troops. But NATO is wary of it.

Given the fact that Russia used a large-scale military exercises in 2014 to distract attention from their invasion of Crimea, and occupied South Ossetia in Georgia in 2008 against the background of other teachings, concealing the movement of troops, the Western Alliance carefully watching the “West”.

“Based on the experience relating to previous teachings, we have every reason to believe that these maneuvers will involve considerably more troops than indicated in official reports”, — said recently the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, responding to a question about the teachings of the “West”.

“We do not believe the current teachings of the “West” immediate threat (NATO), or a front for some kind of attack, — added the head of the coordination office of the national security and defence of Estonia Christian Prick (Kristjan Prikk) in the course held in Washington July 11 conference. — However, we should bear in mind that Russians have bad habit to hide their true military intentions behind the veil of exercises”.

During the previous teachings of the “West” in 2014, focused on how quickly Russia can move its troops from one part of the country to another, it has been demonstrated that the Kremlin underestimates the number of troops participating in their closely-related inspections of combat readiness.

Under statements of Moscow, in the exercises in 2014 was attended by 22 thousand soldiers, but external observers later came to the conclusion that they were involved in more than 70 thousand people when you add all of the smaller, but associated with “West” exercises.

Whatever the final number of soldiers, Moscow “is going to, in fact, to send a signal that it can do militarily, and what is not,” said Olga Oliker (Olga Oliker) from the Center for strategic and international studies (Center for Strategic and International Studies). Russia, in fact, are often attracted to their nuclear forces while conducting routine exercises, and this adds uncertainty for NATO and the West.

This year “I will be watching to see what will be the role of Kaliningrad in the exercise, as well as what additional and coincides exercises will be conducted in Belarus and in Kaliningrad”, (the Russian exclave on the Baltic sea), said Oliker.

In accordance with the announced plans July 21 to Kaliningrad there will arrive the Chinese warships to participate in a series of exercises with the Russian naval, and aerospace forces.

Next week will be conducted antisubmarine and antiship operations, and will develop communication and coordination between the military of both countries. “The main objectives of the exercises is to increase the efficiency of cooperation between the two navies to combat threats to Maritime security, working out the coherence of actions of crews of the Russian and Chinese warships”, — reads the statement of the Russian Ministry of defense.

Similar naval activity in the Baltic takes place several months after NATO deployed a new brigade in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, and was moved there American tanks and heavy armored vehicles. In addition, in June, the air force, the U.S. sent to Europe the B-1 bomber and B-52 to participate in large-scale exercises BALTOP together with their Baltic allies, in which 50 ships were developed defensive nature to protect the Northern flank of NATO.

Earlier this month, American ground forces deployed anti-aircraft missile complexes Patriot in Lithuania for use during another war game, and thus for the first time these units were placed in the Baltic region, where Russia has considerable capabilities in the area of air and missile defense. This placement is temporary, say U.S. officials, however, Lithuania would like to purchase these systems. Romania in July this year signed deals worth $ 3.9 bn on the acquisition of seven missile complexes Patriot.

Even closer to the borders of Russia and Crimea, NATO is holding maneuvers called Sea Breeze 2017, and they too are relevant to the teaching of Saber Guardian. The organizers of the ongoing 12-day exercises in the Black sea are the United States and Ukraine. Participate in the American cruiser USS Hue City, USS Carney destroyer, and a total of 16 countries sent their troops to Odessa. In the exercise also involved an American reconnaissance aircraft and units of the Navy seals the U.S. Navy.

These naval maneuvers closely watching the Russian military, who are actively engaged in the Black sea and has significantly improved its capabilities in Crimea, in the region of interest. In the past year, Russian planes constantly hovered over us warships in the Black sea and approached the U.S. aircraft in the region, what caused the protests in Washington.

In February of this year armed with missiles, Russian aircraft at low altitude flying over the American ship USS Porter, and in may, an armed Russian fighter jet a few meters closer to who were in the area of American reconnaissance aircraft.