A tremendously dangerous situation in global politics that we have right now, forces experts to analyze not only US-Russia relations but NATO-Russia- relations as well. It is well known that on 1 April 2014, NATO unanimously decided to suspend cooperation with the Russian Federation, in response to the Ukraine crisis. Since then misunderstanding has become even worse. NATO and Russia start to fortify their borders deploying more troop, military equipment and vehicles. Thus the balance of power in the region has been broken.
The main indicator of an attempt to show superiority is a number and scale of military exercises conducted by the Alliance in Europe.
It should be said that these NATO’s moves contradict Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation signed in Paris, France in 1997. It is stated in the document that “the member states of NATO and Russia reaffirm that states parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) should maintain only such military capabilities, individually or in conjunction with others, as are commensurate with individual or collective legitimate security needs, taking into account their international obligations, including the CFE Treaty.”
As far as the Alliance is concerned, since 2014 it has been constantly increasing the number of deployed troops in the Baltic region. NATO has found the good excuse not to break the Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security-building Measures formally which also imposes restrictions on military activities in Europe. NATO deploys troops in the region on a rotating basis and conducting exercises. But this stratagem cannot lower the tension between the opponents.
It is interesting that the scale of NATO manoeuvres near Russia borders (as well as NATO member states involvement) increase from year to year. It is also noteworthy that the hidden aim of the exercises is to insure the ability to move troops quickly closer to the borders of the Russian Federation.
To achieve this goal, in fact, NATO is creating in Europe “military Schengen”, with the help of which the Alliance hopes to minimize the time for troops deployment.
The more so, the improving logistics and transport infrastructure within Europe has become a new priority in NATO. Now the Alliance is working on the transatlantic moving of its troops, as well as on constructing in the Baltic region and Poland stockpiles of weapons, military equipment and ammunition.
In addition, eight NATO Force Integration Units have been set up in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which can coordinate planning, rapid reinforcements and deployment of military contingents if needed.
According to the former commander of the U.S. Army Europe, Lieutenant General Frederick Benjamin Hodges, the rapid redeployment of troops during the exercises is one of the most serious challenges to NATO forces. He repeatedly stressed that the movement of the allies is hindered by a number of obstacles – from infrastructure to bureaucratic, for example, the issuance of documents.
It should be noted that NATO is preparing a real provocation – Anaconda 2018 exercise, which is not even announced. These manoeuvres promise to become the most ambitious since the end of the Cold War. According to a number of military experts, the exercise should become an Alliance’s answer for the “Zapad” exercise. In the event, planned for November in Poland and the Baltic states, according to Polish sources, will take part about 100,000 troops, including 20,000 from Poland. Troops from several NATO countries and five partner countries will participate in the drill. 5,000 vehicles, 150 aircraft and helicopters, 45 warships will be used in the exercise.
The declared goal of the Anaconda exercise is to strengthen the interaction between the commands of the Polish Armed Forces, NATO member states and partner countries “within the framework of the joint defensive operation in the face of the emergence of hybrid threats.” Among them is the use of weapons of mass destruction and attacks in cyberspace.
Though it is not a secret that any military exercise is a real combat training of troops. It is worth paying attention to the statement made by Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak, made during the meeting with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis in February, on the possible increasing presence of American troops in Poland.
Currently, about 4,000 US military personnel are deployed in Poland, which comprise one armored brigade and separate units of NATO multinational forces.
Apparently, under a cover of Anaconda 18 exercise, another US brigade could be deployed in the country. Taking into account this fact as well as the deployment of four NATO multinational battalion-size groups in the Baltic states and Poland and the additional deployment of the US 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, NATO will eventually deploy a whole mechanized division – hundreds of Abrams main battle tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Paladin self-propelled howitzer.
All these steps are taken in defiance of all statements, and not caring about any international treatments.
*Viktors Domburs is an engineer, born in Latvia, and now lives in the United Kingdom.