Tag: Baltic Fleet

Zapad-2017: Large-scale Russia-Belarus military strategic exercise in photos

The main stage of Zapad-2017 military exercises, at Luzhsky range near St. Petersburg. Mikhail Metzel/TASS

The drill involves almost 12,700 servicemen, about 70 planes and helicopters and up to 680 equipment units, including about 250 tanks, almost 200 weapons, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, as well as 10 ships.

Under the scenario of the exercise small groups of militants had infiltrated into Russia’s territory across the border to have merged into several large units each having a strength of up to 500 men for staging terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage.

Servicemen of a Russian Baltic Fleet unit takes part in Zapad military exercises, at Pravdinsky range. Mikhail Metzel/TASS

They seized a large number of light aircraft and drones at airfields near the border. For this reason air defense artillery systems Pantsir-S1, air defense missiles Strela-1 and other counter-weapons had to be used.

On the ground, the enemy was attacked with support provided by artillery and armored vehicles, including T-90 tanks, the newest tank support vehicles Terminator, front-line bombers Sukhoi-24, fighter-bombers Sukhoi-34 and also Mi-24, Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters.

The drill involves almost 12,700 servicemen, about 70 planes and helicopters and up to 680 equipment units, including about 250 tanks, almost 200 weapons, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, as well as 10 ships. Mikhail Metzel/TASS

The concerted attack against the hypothetical terrorists on the ground was accompanied by an air assault. The intruder forces were sealed off and eliminated.

The strategic exercise Zapad-2017 is the last phase of joint training by the armed forces of the Union State of Russia and Belarus this year.

Observers and military attaches from more than 60 states were invited to one of the central episodes of the Zapad-2017 military drills. Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Russia’s air defense artillery systems Pantsir-S1, air defense missiles Strela-1 and other counter-weapons were used. Mikhail Metzel/TASS
The main stage of Zapad-2017, joint Russian and Belarusian military exercises, at Luzhsky range. Mikhail Metzel/TASS
MINSK REGION, BELARUS. A helicopter insertion during Zapad 2017, joint Russian and Belarusian military exercises, at Borisovsky range. Ramil Nasibulin/BelTA/TASS
MINSK REGION, BELARUS. Belarus’ Mil Mi-8 helicopters take part in Zapad 2017, joint Russian and Belarusian military exercises, at Borisovsky range. Ramil Nasibulin/BelTA/TASS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russian Baltic Fleet helicopters destroy maneuver enemy submarine during Zapad-2017 drills

Kamov Ka-27PL

KALININGRAD, September 17. /TASS/.

Crews of the Russian Baltic Fleet marine aviation helicopters stopped and destroyed a submarine of the maneuver enemy during the Zapad-2017 (West-2017) strategic drills, the fleet’s spokesman, Roman Martov, said on Sunday.

“A maneuver enemy submarine was detected in the area of sea routes. Ka-27PL marine aviation helicopters were sent to the designated area. The crews used radar and hydro-acoustic tools to detect and chase the submarine,” he said, adding that once spotted the submarine was destroyed with the use of air bombs.

Earlier in the day, the Ka-27PL helicopters were used to back Baltic Fleet warships which destroyed another submarine of the maneuver enemy.

A large-scale exercise Zapad-2017 began in Russia and Belarus on September 14. The drills are held at three proving grounds in Russia and six in Belarus involving 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian), about 70 warplanes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and ten warships.

The main purpose of the exercise is to improve the compatibility of command and control centers, test new documentation and let commanders of all levels practice planning and control of operations on the basis of experience gained in the latest military conflicts.

The exercise will last till September 20.

 

Baltic Fleet corvettes destroy air, sea and coastal targets during Zapad-2017 drills

Russian Navy Ship Boiky (532) (Бойкий – Brisk) Steregushchy-class corvette, deployed with the Baltic Fleet,

KALININGRAD, September 17. /TASS/.

Corvettes of the Baltic Fleet destroyed aerial, naval and coastal targets during the Russian-Belorussian Zapad-2017 military exercise, fleet spokesman Roman Martov said.

“As part of the joint West-2017 strategic exercise in waters of the Baltic Sea, crews of the Soobrazitelny, Stoikiy, Steregushchiy and Boikiy have successfully trained tasks to repel an aerial attack of a simulated enemy and hit naval and coastal targets,” he said.

He said the ships’ crews fired at simulated targets representing a group of warships and a simulated enemy’s coastal artillery.

In addition, the corvettes repelled an aerial attack, simulated by Su-24 attack aircraft and Ka-27 anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

A large-scale exercise, Zapad-2017, began on Thursday at three training grounds in Russia and six in Belarus. It involved 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian servicemen taking part), as well as about 70 planes and helicopters, 680 pieces of military hardware, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars. Ten warships are also taking part.

The exercise will continue until September 20. The second stage begins on Sunday.

 

 

Baltic Fleet’s ships go to sea to participate in Zapad-2017 exercise

BALTIISK, September 16. /TASS/.

About 20 ships and support vessels of Russia’s Baltic Fleet went to sea to perform tactical tasks of the Zapad-2017 strategic exercise, head of the Western Military District’s press service on the Baltic Fleet Captain 1st rank Roman Martov said on Saturday.

“Corvettes, small missile and anti-submarine ships, minesweepers and missile boats, and various vessels of the auxiliary fleet have formed a few tactical groupings,” he said. “They are ready to fulfil task as assigned – in anti-submarine and air defense, to carry out test artillery firing on different types of targets, simulating sea and air targets.”

Zapad-2017 exercise

A large-scale exercise Zapad-2017 began in Russia and Belarus on Thursday at three proving grounds in Russia and six in Belarus with 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian ones taking part). Also involved in the exercise are about 70 planes and helicopters, 680 ground vehicles, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and ten ships.

The Stoikiy (545) – (Steregushchy-class corvette) with her Kamov Ka-27 helicopter

The main purpose of the exercise is to improve the compatibility of command and control centers, test new documentation and let commanders of all levels practice planning and control of operations on the basis of experience gained in the latest military conflicts.

The exercise will last till September 20.

 

 

Zapad 2017: Will tensions between the West and Russia run high – What the experts say

By Andrej Matisak

Is the Russia-Belarus exercise Zapad 2017 is a reason for concern for NATO?

Russia-Belarus exercise Zapad 2017 started today. Experts are asked what the most important strategic objectives of the Russia-Belarus exercise Zapad 2017 are, especially from the Russian point of view and whether Zapad 2017 is a reason for concern for NATO.

Will tensions between the West and Russia run high during the exercise?

This is what they said:

Johan NorbergSenior Analyst at FOI (Swedish Defence Research Agency)

The main strategic objective is to train and if possible consolidate the capability to launch and wage high-intensity war fighting operations on the war-theatre level. I base this on an analysis of Russia’s strategic military exercises in 2011 – 2014 report and on (yet unpublished) work covering 2015 and 2016. The West should worry about Russia’s capability intentions, what type of wars they want to be able to fight, not that this exercise takes place in Western Russia and Belarus right now (it does once every 4 years).

Tensions are political. The military exercises are in my understanding primarily for building military capabilities. I do not expect the exercise as such to create more tension than there already is. Yes, there is a theoretical higher risk of incidents since there will probably be more reconnaissance aircraft and ships active than usual.

Michael KofmanResearch Scientist, CNA Corporation, Fellow, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center

There are three elements to this exercise. First, Russia is testing its ability to command combined arms formations and the logistics involved in moving heavy ground forces into the Baltic region. Second it is a large civil-defense drill designed to test how the military and civilian authorities would behave at a time of total war, de facto mobilization of the state for a conflict with an existential threat. In that respect it tests the National Guard and other authorities in their response to internal instability, protests and the like. Finally the exercise is important in signaling to the United States that Russia has the capability and resolve to intervene in Belarus, defend its interests, and see NATO down in a potential fight. The scenario is defensive but some elements of Russian strategy are principally offensive since they involve compelling the adversary during a crisis or conflict.

Absolutely, any time a country conducts large scale military exercises it is a time for prudent vigilance and caution on the part of neighbours. This is especially so because Russia has a mixed history of having used some announced and unannounced exercises in the past to prepare for combat operations against another state, most notably Kavkaz-2008 and the snap readiness inspection in February 2014. Tensions do run high in the context of the wider confrontation between Russia and the West, but few truly expect this exercise to be a prelude to some nefarious plan, or risky adventure. Most of the reactions among NATO members have been calm, although there is always some unfortunate panic and media sensationalism that takes place during such events.

Paal HildeAssociate Professor, Centre for Norwegian and European Security, Institute for Defence Studies/Norwegian Defence University College

A major military exercise like Zapad 2017 generally has many objectives, ranging from narrow military aims to overtly political ones. What the most important strategic objectives of Zapad 2017 are from the Russian point of view is hard to determine with certainty. There are probably several such objectives and their relative significance will likely vary among different actors. From the military perspective, the exercise will be another occasion to test new concepts, including lessons learned in Ukraine and Syria. On the more political level, to show the Russian population, notably in Kaliningrad, as well as NATO that the Russian military is able to move quickly to defend the exclave may be another objective. Russia might also want to intimidate Belarus and other neighbours. More generally, military prowess has been a key tool in Putin’s attempt to re-establish Russia’s status as a “great power” in international affairs; including in Europe and the Middle East. Showing off military force, including in highly publicised exercises, is seemingly also useful for the Putin administration in domestic political mobilisation. The massive attention Zapad 2017 has gained in both Russian and international media is in itself a sign that such exercises are a highly useful political tool.

The speculations that Zapad 2017 might be a cover for plans to invade the Baltic states or Ukraine seem to be just that – speculations. Russian officials have obviously rejected such accusations and it is hard to see what Russia would want to achieve with such a military adventure. There is thus more reason for worry regarding situations where NATO and Russian military forces come close and where accidents or unplanned and unfortunate events spin out of control. Both sides are aware of this danger and will presumably seek to maintain safe distances and quickly deescalate if necessary. The most tangible and obvious concern from the point of view of NATO is of a political nature, however. Russia has claimed that only 12 700 personnel and a small number of military equipment will be involved in the exercise, bringing it below the threshold in the Vienna Document for inviting observers. Much suggests that the total military manpower and equipment that will be involved in the series of other exercises that run in parallel with the official Zapad 2017 will be vastly larger – perhaps up to 100 000. If this is the case, Zapad 2017 will represent a blatant Russian violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Vienna Document. It will thus represent yet another setback for arms control and confidence building in Europe.

Garret MartinProfessorial Lecturer, School of International Service, Editor at Large at the European Institute, American University

This is a bit of a speculation but we can assume that Zapad 2017 might serve the following interests/objectives for Russia. First, there is the declared aim of conducting an exercise against a simulated terrorist or asymmetric threat. But, in addition to that, it is likely that Russia is also keen to display its power and in particular to emphasize its ability “to impose substantial costs on a technologically advanced adversary, i.e. the United States” (see the very good piece from War on the Rocks that covers Russian thinking – https://warontherocks.com/2017/08/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-zapad-2017/ ). To cite the same piece, Zapad is also a way to establish Russia’s coercive credibility.

Is Zapad 2017 a cause of concern for NATO and a possible source of tension? That may be overstating it. Apprehension sure, but tension is too strong a word. It is true that Russia staged large drills before the conflict in Georgia in 2008 and before annexing Crimea in 2014. And Russia is most likely dramatically understating the number of troops involved in Zapad 2017 (announcing 12,700 troops, which puts it just under the threshold of 13,000 by which Russia would have to invite outside observers).

But on the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to keep Zapad 2017 in perspective. Many countries conduct such exercises, and Russia has conducted many before that were not prelude to actual operations. Moreover, part of the exercises will take place well inside Belarus and from a healthy distance away from the Polish and Lithuanian borders. Not to mention that it would be quite foolish for Russia to try and use the exercise as a smokescreen for an actual operation when NATO states are keeping a close eye on the region.

Konrad MuzykaEurope and CIS Armed Forces Analyst, IHS Jane’s

The overall objective of Zapad is to test how Russia, its C2 structures, armed forces units, and civil organisations will react if country went to war with NATO. Zapad has always had an anti-NATO character so it should not at all be surprising that NATO is target here.

That said, Zapad is much more than a military exercise. A significant part of country’s C2 structures, civil organisations are involved in Zapad as Moscow will want to see how they mobilise, move, develop, conduct operations in a state of war or increased emergency. The current movement of troops, readiness tests (such as the one from early September that tested readiness of the 11 ICBM regiments) likely fall under what Russia’s call a “threatening period”. This is when Moscow realises that threats are real. These threats need to be addressed by troop deployments, flexing muscles, and improving readiness. These moves are also a part of Zapad. How Russia mobilises pre-official start of Zapad will also be closely assessed by the civil-military leadership post-exercise.

In short not really. Zapad is going to be provide a great insight on the progress of the Russian Armed Forces reforms, how and how quickly it mobilises, how it seeks to deter potential adversaries. We should learn from it and how to be afraid of it.

It is very likely that aircraft will be intercepted over the Baltic Sea by both sides, NATO will deploy SIGINT and ELINT assets to take a peek into what’s going on in the Kaliningrad Oblast. I don’t expect tensions to run higher compared to what we have experienced in the past two-three years.

Dmitry Gorenburg, Senior Research Scientist, CNA Corporation

In conducting these large capstone exercises, Russia has pursued both military and political aims. On the military side, Russia seeks to highlight its abilities to conduct large-scale joint operations that involve multiple branches of its armed forces and require the activation of logistics networks that include the transfer of forces from one part of the country to another. Zapad 2017 and other exercises in this series also seek to develop military cooperation between Russia and Belarus, since Belarus is Russia’s most capable military ally and serves as a critical buffer zone between Russian and NATO member states. What’s more, a NATO intervention in Belarus is seen in Russia as one of the most likely causes for a major military confrontation between Russia and the West.

On the political side, Zapad-2017 is aimed at deterring the West by highlighting Russia’s preparedness to counter any aggressive actions by NATO or its individual member states. Despite Western perceptions of Russian aggressiveness, Russia continues to feel relatively weak when compared to the United States and its allies. As a result, it seeks to highlight its capabilities to defend itself, against both a direct attack and regime change efforts. The recent Western media stories highlighting the potential size of the exercise are very helpful in Russia achieving this goal.

NATO should treat Zapad 2017 as an opportunity to study the Russian military’s strengths and weaknesses and also its defensive strategy for its Western border. I don’t see any reason for tensions to be high during the exercise, except for the misplaced concerns expressed by politicians in neighboring NATO states about the possibility of the exercise being a cover for a Russian invasion.

Statements that Russian military exercises on its borders are inevitably a precursor to foreign intervention are a prime example of selection bias. Russia conducts military exercises on its borders many times a year, usually with little notice from non-specialists. Only on two occasions have these these exercises been followed by foreign interventions, and in both cases these took place during major international crises, not as a surprise attack. Russia has repeatedly indicated that it is not interested in a forceful intervention in the Baltic, both because it has no desire to occupy hostile territory and because its leaders continue to have faith in NATO’s willingness to back its Article 5 guarantees to its Baltic member states with armed force.

Russian intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs ready to welcome crew for sea trials

Russian intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs, ready to welcome crew for sea trials. Photo: Severnaya Verf Shipyard.

Representatives of the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet naval base in Leningrad inspected the recently-launched intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs deeming it ready to welcome its first crew members.

According to Severnaya Verf Shipyard which built the vessel, the Project 18280 ship is set to be crewed in the coming days.

The official inspection checked the overall state of readiness of the vessel, including berthing, medical provisions and the galley which was tested during the inspection.

Project 18280 manager Anatoly Denisov said the vessel is being prepared to start sea trials in October with delivery to the Russian Navy expected to take place before the end of the year. Ivan Khurs will be starting sea trials one month later than initially expected.

Launched in May this year, Ivan Khurs is the second of overall four planned vessels in the Yury Ivanov-class.

Named after Russian Vice-Admiral Ivan Khurs, the vessel is 95 meters long and displaces 4000 tons. It has a cruising range of 8000 nautical miles and is crewed by 131 sailors.

Project 18280 ships are used for signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic warfare in addition to fleet management roles. Leadship Yury Ivanov was launched in September 2013 and entered service with the Northern Fleet in July 2015.

 

 

Russian Zapad military exercise in Belarus raises tension

Mil Mi-24P Russian Air Force

It is being billed as a military exercise, but when Russian and Belarusian forces start Zapad-2017 this week, many neighbouring countries will be looking on nervously.

Zapad-2017 (“West-2017”) is a joint strategic-level exercise involving Russian and Belarusian military forces, expected to begin on 14 September in Russia’s western military district Kaliningrad, and across Belarus.

It is scheduled to last about a week, but may well go on for longer. The exercise is part of a four-year rolling cycle of manoeuvres that focus each year on one broad region or “front” (“West”, “Eastern”, “Central” or “Caucasus”). This year’s Zapad exercise though is drawing much greater attention than did its predecessor in 2013.

The context has changed significantly. Russia has seized and annexed Crimea; it has supported a separatist war in eastern Ukraine with weaponry, training and, for periods, its own combat units. Russia is thus seen by several Nato countries as much more threatening.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has described Russia’s build-up for the exercise as “preparations for an offensive war on a continental scale”. Ukrainian border defences, he said, are being bolstered.

He also pointed to the fact that in his view, Russia has form here, using the pretext of an exercise to mobilise and position forces to conduct offensive operations. President Poroshenko said he could not rule out the possibility that the drill “may be used as a smokescreen to create new Russian army assault groups to invade Ukrainian territory”.

Russia’s T-90A Main Battle Tank

Units on the move

Nato watchers and insiders do not necessarily share this concern about an all-out invasion of Ukraine.

Russia expert Keir Giles, a fellow at Chatham House think tank, acknowledges that “previous Russian exercises on this scale have prepositioned troops for undertaking military operations, against Georgia in 2008 and against Ukraine in 2014”.

However, he says, “both of those moves were precipitated by an immediate political crisis – currently absent in Europe.

“And there have been plenty of other major Russian exercises in between,” he says, “which did not end up with somebody getting invaded”.

US backs Baltics against Russia ‘threat’

Nato fears fast-moving Russian troops

Eastern Ukraine: A new, bloody chapter

Russia’s information warfare in Europe

Nonetheless, the fear of a resurgent and more aggressive Russia is real enough. That is why, over the past year, Nato has sent small multi-national units to Poland and to each of the three Baltic republics to underline its deterrent message. And that is why this year’s war games will be watched so closely.

Just how closely is a contentious issue. Russia, unlike Belarus, has been far more reluctant to invite Western observers in any number. This despite the fact that, as a member of the OSCE international security body, it is obliged to send out broad invitations if an exercise numbers more than 13,000 troops.

Mr Giles notes that, while Russia may be “content to see Europe alarmed at the prospect of Moscow throwing its military weight around”, Belarus seeks instead to calm the situation. The siting of the exercise in ranges across the middle of the country – not near the Polish and Lithuanian borders – was a deliberate policy decision intended to reduce the chances of misinterpretation, or incidents when Russian troops and aircraft come close to Nato borders.

Yuri Smityuk/TASS

Belarus has been much more open towards international observers. Clearly satellites, airborne radars and other national intelligence collection measures will be used by Nato countries.

In addition, efforts are under way to mobilise concerned citizens in Belarus to observe military movements in their area and post them online for the benefit of non-government, open-source analysts and experts.

How many troops?

So just how big is this exercise and what will Western analysts and observers be watching for? Here assessments differ widely.

The Russians say some 12,700 troops will be involved in total, including a significant contingent from Belarus. (Notice this takes it below the 13,000 OSCE threshold.)

Western experts watching the preparations, especially the marshalling of railway flat-cars – the main way of moving heavy armoured formations to the exercise areas – say it will be considerably more.

Some estimates suggest that up to 100,000 troops could be involved, but since there are a range of drills, exercises and spot mobilisations it is hard to be precise about numbers.

Russia will be testing its capacity to contain and respond to some form of outside aggression and will be deploying units from different services: heavy armour; airborne troops; “spetsnaz” elite reconnaissance teams; and electronic warfare specialists.

The Baltic Fleet will be involved, as will units from the 14th Corps based in Kaliningrad. One point of interest may be the part played at the tactical and strategic levels of “information operations troops” – a relatively new formation in the Russian order of battle.

Indeed, while there may be much to learn about Russia’s use of artillery, its capability in electronic warfare (already manifest in the fighting in Ukraine) and the growing importance of precision-guided munitions in Russia’s thinking, it may be this information aspect that is most important. For beyond the troop movements, Zapad-2017 is part of a wider propaganda effort to influence and shape opinion in the West.

Atmosphere of suspicion

The US analyst Michael Kofman in a fascinating piece on the War on the Rocks website, describes Zapad as “a good window into the Russian mindset.

“For all the modernisation and transformation of the Russian armed forces,” he writes, “in reality the Russian leadership is probably still afraid: afraid the United States will try to make a bid for Belarus, afraid of American technological and economic superiority, afraid the US seeks regime change in Moscow, and afraid Washington desires the complete fragmentation of Russian influence in its near abroad, or even worse, Russia itself.”

“Zapad,” he argues, “is the most coherent manifestation of these fears, and a threat from Moscow to the United States about what it might do if the worst should come to pass.”

And what of those lingering fears in some quarters that this could be much more than just an exercise? Mr Giles remains unconvinced by much of the media hyperbole surrounding Zapad.

But he has this caution: “The time to watch troop deployments most closely,” he says, “is likely to be after the exercise proper has ended.”

The final day of Zapad is 20 September but, he notes, “Russian troops are only scheduled to leave Belarus by 30 September – after the observers have departed, and when the media interest will have died down. That will be the time to decide whether Zapad this year has in fact passed off peacefully.”

 

Belgian jets conduct first Baltic air policing intercept of their deployment

TALLINN, Sep 06, BNS – Just after taking over the augmenting role for NATO’s Baltic air policing mission at Amari air base in Estonia, Belgian F-16 fighter jets were scrambled by the alliance’s Combined Air Operations Center in Germany on Tuesday for the first time to respond to an air incident in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, NATO’s Air Command said in a press release.

On Tuesday afternoon, a NATO radar picked up two Russian air force fighter jets leaving Kaliningrad airspace heading north in international airspace. The military aircraft did not communicate their identity and were not in contact with civilian air traffic control agencies, the release said.

In line with standard procedures, the Belgian F-16s then took to the skies to identify the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 jets, which subsequently joined up with a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 heavy cargo aircraft. All Russian aircraft returned to Kaliningrad and the Belgian F-16 jets safely landed at Amari air base.

At present the Baltic air policing mission is led by U.S. Air Force F-15 fighters deployed to Siauliai, Lithuania, and the Belgian F-16s in Amari, Estonia.

 

Russia mobilizes for ZAPAD 2017. But how prepared is the Baltic Region?

 

A pair of Sukhoi Su-24M Heavy Strike Aircraft

The Russian practice, known as Zapad-17, seems to be the biggest exercise in the history of the Russian Federation. Ukraine’s Security Council has concluded that a total of 230,000 to 240,000 people will participate.

Western reviewers have talked about up to 100,000 participants.

Zapad-17, which starts officially on September 14th, can be described as a seizure exercise in which Russia’s ability to mobilize and go to war quickly will be practiced. The exercise takes place every four years, where the main exercises rotate between the different Russian military areas.

At the 2009 exercise, Russia was pursuing Warsaw in Poland with tactical nuclear weapons. Outside the exercise period, but the same year as Zapad-13, Russia practiced tactical nuclear weapons attacks against Sweden.

This year’s training activities are located both to neighboring Belarus and to Kaliningrad, Leningrad, Pskov and Smolensk oblast, as well as in the Baltic Sea.

Russia will also put its rail system on trial, as well as cyber-fighting units and nuclear weapons forces.

Officially, Russia is hacking up its exercises, all in order to avoid current Western inspections. According to the OSCE’s Wi-Fi document, more than 13,000 exercises have to be pre-advertised, as countries such as Sweden and Finland, as well as the NATO Alliance, have the right to send their own observers.

But this border is on the side of Russia, and takes advantage of the opportunity to test preparedness.

Emergency preparedness checks need not be pre-notified in accordance with the Wiendokument and are without obligation to invite observers. So what the paper is a little exercise, or several small ones is in fact a giant exercise that Russia keeps visitors away from.

And here’s an important difference between NATO’s open, transparent and long-term practice and Russian secret culture.

The exercise also means full mobilization in Kaliningrad, and that the reserves for the 76th airland division in Pskov have been called up.

The Russian Federation enclave of Kaliningrad.

Exercise in Russia has also been used several times to mask future military operations against other countries. During Kavkaz-08, the Russian troops remained in the field to shortly attack Georgia.
Zapad-13 was used to pinch and plan for the aggression against Ukraine, which was then carried out in 2014.

Center-15 was used as “cover up” to hide what kind of help was sent to Assad in Syria.

Last week, two Russian fighter aircraft violated Swedish airspace east of Gotland. It is based on this experience that nervousness in the West is particularly great, what really happens after the exercise? US Commander in Europe, General Ben Hodges, has been warned that Zapad may be a “Trojan horse” that places Russian soldiers and equipment in Belarus and can then be moved on.

And there are signs of increased number of provocations. Last week, two Russian fighter aircraft violated Swedish airspace east of Gotland.

Russia’s attempt to send the Kruzenstern school ship with 164 cadets on board to Mariehamn on Åland during Zapad-17 was stopped this week. Åland’s demilitarized position means that Finland is responsible for the defense of Åland without being allowed to prepare for this in peacetime.

The Russian Navy Cadet Training Ship Kruzenstern

But Finland also has the power to deny “state ships” to call at Åland. What is now used with Kruzenstern. The Finnish Chief of Staff has announced refusal, without further explanation. The most likely is Russia wanted to test Finland’s reactions with the visit, although a nightmare scenario is the ship would have been used for “green men”. “Green men” refers to masked soldiers in unmarked green army uniforms and carrying modern Russian military weapons and equipment that appeared during the Ukrainian crisis of 2014.

Åland’s demilitarized status and the legal basis of the 1921 Åland Convention and the bilateral peace agreement with the Soviet Union in 1940 (as confirmed in Paris 1947) makes the island’s vulnerability at least as great as Gotlands in the increasingly hot Baltic region.

Instead, the Russian propaganda now learns to grind additional laps of fears of terror from the event surrounding the school ship.

The official reason behind the planned schooling visit was a visit because Mariehamn wants to host Tall Ships Race 2021. Instead, the Russian propaganda now learns to grind additional laps of fears of terror from the event surrounding the school ship.

But already the week before the current visit, Åland is visited by a Swedish-Russian “peace action”. There, activists from Sweden and Russia will conduct activism during an escalating scenario. From Sweden, two environmentalist parliamentarians, Carl Schlyter and Annika Lillimets participate.

No participant from Finland is expected to have a strong reaction to being just an external influence on Åland. “Peace activists” thus help to increase the security policy tension.

Finland has also announced that it is running local defense exercises to improve government cooperation, among other things. It should also be read in plain text to be able to handle “green men”. The troops practice in Kajanaland, South Karelia, South Savolax, Southern Finland and Satakunta.

Finnish Civil Defence Exercises are underway as of 30 August 2017

The message that Finland is close to its friends was strengthened when President Niinistö visited Donald Trump in the White House on Monday evening, Swedish time. There, the US President stressed the ties to Finland and that the USA was “very protective, extremely protective” in the Baltic Sea Region.

At the same time, Trump avoided direct questions if he regards Russia as a threat, yet stressing that if threats appear “we’ll handle them.”

“We are doing everything to preserve peace in the Baltic Sea area,” said President Sauli Niinistö from the Speaker’s Court in the White House. “When I met Putin a few weeks ago, I asked about the Chinese navy practicing Russia. Putin replied that that exercise was not aimed at anyone. Then I found out that we are practicing with the United States and Sweden, and it is not aimed at anyone either. ”

Prior to Zapad’s practice, NATO has strengthened with, among other things, 600 skid hunters in the Baltics. It is not an impressive numeral but should be seen as a signal to Russia that if one finds something, one gets to fight with more Americans, and in itself it can be war-restrained.

In Sweden, Zapad partially coincides with its own defense defense exercise Aurora 17 (18-27 September), where almost half of the Swedish defense team participates in 19,000 people together with connections from Finland, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, France and the United States.

Aurora is the largest Swedish exercise of nearly a quarter of a century and an important reconciliation in the work of getting a defense consisting of two brigades. This is comparable to the fact that the Swedish defense in 1971 had 31 brigades.

Preparations are in full swing for the Swedish Armed Forces exercise Aurora this September. All Swedish air wings will participate.

But despite the fact that the Russian exercise is expected to be closer to five times as big as the total Swedish defense and twelve times as high as Aurora-17, the Swedish debate and media reports are more dominated by various peace activists demonstration plans and questioning of Swedish practice.

One who walks in these footsteps is Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt who equals the level of provocations between the Russian offensive nuclear weapons exercise with the defense force’s defense exercise.

Some major protests against the Russian aggressive exercise, including nuclear weapons, we can not see from the peace movement in Sweden. So Gudrun Schyman, Sven Hirdman, with several teachings, continues to wear shades, earlobes and eyelashes to continue living in another reality.

And as the Ukrainian Security Council notes on its website: “Zapad-17 is another step for Russia to promote confrontation on the European continent. It requires a truly serious response from both West and Ukraine. The state leadership, Ukrainian defense and other security and detention agencies are now taking the necessary steps to protect our state. ”

The warning for autumn storms in the Baltic Sea area is thus here. There may be a lot of cold to handle both accidental and deliberate incidents.

By the way, Peter Hultqvist is the best defense minister Sweden can have in this position.

Swedish Defence minister Peter Hultqvist and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

By Patrik Oksanen, security and defense policy consultant for several of the MittMedia Group’s liberal and center party leader pages. Oksanen is a daily editor of Hudiksvalls Tidning and currently a political editor at ÖP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 70 ships of Russia’s Baltic Fleet go to sea during combat readiness check

Baltic Fleet Ship Boiky (532) (Бойкий – Brisk) Steregushchy-class corvette

KALININGRAD, August 30. /TASS/. Around 2,000 troops, over 70 warships and support vessels, as well as around 200 pieces of military and special equipment, are involved in a routine combat readiness check of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, the fleet’s spokesman Roman Martov said on Wednesday.

“The check, involving more than 70 warships and support vessels, is aimed at assessing the possibility to put the navy on full alert, as well as the alert forces’ capability to implement their tasks,” Martov said.

Russia’s Baltic fleet was stablished on May 18, 1703. Baltic fleet is the oldest Russian Navy formation. The Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet was created during the Great Northern War at the initiative of Czar Peter the Great, who ordered the first ships for the Baltic Fleet to be constructed in 1702 and 1703.

The fleet is based in Baltiysk and Kronshtadt, with its headquarters in the city of Kaliningrad. The fleet includes two submarines and 56 surface ships. See the best ships of Russia’s Baltic fleet.

Russia’s Northern Fleet Put to sea yesterday with 40 combat ships and auxiliaries. See The Baltic Fleet article: Russian Northern Fleet warships take to sea in combat readiness check.

 

 

 

1,000 Baltic Sea Fleet marines take part in wargame in Russia’s northwest

The 336th Guards Marines Brigade of the Baltic Fleet

About 1,000 marines of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet take part in a wargame that simulates action to protect the seacoast, fleet spokesman Roman Martov told TASS on Wednesday.

He said the active phase of the tactical exercise involving Baltic Sea Fleet’s marines is underway at the firing ground Khmelevka in Russia’s north-western enclave Kaliningrad region. “About 1,000 military, 150 pieces of weapons and military hardware take part,” Martov said.

Acting on alert, marines marched from the site of their permanent stationing to the area of the military drill. On the march, they trained tasks of battle defense, passage through contaminated terrain, action to counter subversive and reconnaissance groups. Air defense units acted to rebuff airstrikes of an imaginary enemy.