This fall in Europe and in the Baltic region in particular is very “hot” from the military point of view. Russia thinks that NATO exercises in the region are not just single episodic maneuvers but a chain of successive events, a well-designed scheme of conducting large-scale exercises that are offensive in nature.
This point of view is disputable but certainly Russian experts have the reasons to feel threatened.
These days NATO exercise dubbed Anakonda 2018 is conducted on the territory of Poland and three Baltic States. If taken separately, Anakonda 2018 is not so large-scale, as for instance, Trident Juncture, held between October 25 and November 7 in and around Norway (that was just one of NATO’s military exercises this year.) But taking into account a series of NATO military events that were conducted and planned this autumn, Anakonda 2018 exercise distrusts Russia.
Thus, in parallel with and just after Trident Juncture exercise in Europe and in the Baltic region, smaller NATO exercises are united by a common concept and held against a common background.
These are Baltic Host 18 in the Baltic States (November 1–30), Iron Wolf 18 in Lithuania (November 5–18), Brave Lion in Denmark (November 5–23), Arcade Fusion 18 in the UK (November 5-27), Anakonda 18 in Poland and in the Baltic States and the Baltic Sea (November 7-16), Citadel Bonus 18 in France and Poland (November 10-20).
By the way, this year NATO has already coordinated approximately 100 exercises, 20% more than during the same period in 2017.
During exercises NATO, as it was officially stated, trains and assesses multinational battle groups abilities to plan and conduct “defense/offense in decisive action environment and improves the level of interoperability of multinational forces.”
One more fact shows the offensive nature of NATO exercises. This is a clear intention to train troops under severe weather conditions. Such a climate is typical only to some countries in the world including Russia. So, are NATO troops going to fight on Russian territory? This automatically means the offensive nature of Alliance’s maneuvers.
The more so, the accelerating of rearmament in the Eastern European countries, the deployment of new bases, the renewal of NATO infrastructure, new military formations in the region, and specifically in the Baltic countries – all this suggests that the main goal of the exercises is not to defend NATO member states, but to prepare to attack.
*Viktors Domburs is an engineer, born in Latvia, and now lives in the United Kingdom.