Tag: Baltic

NATO’s eyes in the sky zoom in on Russian Zapad war games

NATO has said it is not expecting a major increase in Russian air activity during the country’s Zapad military exercises. However, the alliance has accused Moscow of not “playing by the rules” on the ground.

From a Baltic point of view, when NATO’s second-highest military commander in Europe says he expects the Zapad 2017 exercises to be a “pattern of normal Russian activity,” it’s not exactly reassuring. Frequent buzzing of allied and international airspace by Russian aircraft is one reason there’s a regular rotation of NATO Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) planes in the sky over the alliance’s northeastern border. Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, British Gen. Sir James Everard, was aboard the first one in the air on Zapad’s opening day, and DW’s Teri Schultz was invited along for the ride.

‘Status quo’ expected for Zapad air activity

Speaking with DW aboard the AWACS plane that flew from its Geilenkirchen base in western Germany to its Latvian mission, Everard clarified that he means he’s not anticipating a spike in Russian warplanes buzzing NATO airspace or performing provocative maneuvers over the Baltic states. That said, the existing level of engagement means there are already incidents every week of Russian planes flying near or occasionally into Baltic airspace, often with transponders off and no contact with air traffic controllers on the ground.

During the almost four-hour surveillance mission, there were two suspicious aircraft spotted by the specialists aboard. They transmitted the location to counterparts on the ground, who “scrambled” into the air to identify the aircraft and put the pilots on notice that they were being tracked by NATO.

German Air Force Lt. Col. Alex Herrmann, the mission’s technical director, said he couldn’t reveal any information that had been gained from the scramble. Herrmann, who’s been flying AWACS for almost 20 years, also sought to ratchet down tension over Russian activities even as he notes the number of AWACS flights has steadily grown over his tenure. Herrmann compared the surveillance flights with police checking for speeders on the road. “This is a question of making it safe in the air,” he explained. “Right now we are living in peacetime; there’s no hostile flying around – it’s just ‘neutral’ or ‘friendly’ or ‘of interest to us.'”

US provides pre-Zapad boost to Baltic air patrol

Nevertheless, the US has boosted its “police” force in anticipation of Zapad. Late last month, leadership of the “Baltic Air Policing” mission, which provides cover for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, rotated to the US and Belgium. The US, replacing Poland, decided to increase its fleet to seven F-15s over the four jets Poland used in the previous period. US Army Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of American forces in Europe, told DW recently that this boost would be the only US ramp-up due to Zapad.

Herrmann and Everard are monitoring Zapad from the air as part of NATO’s AWACS mission

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics agrees with Everard that Russia won’t likely launch any direct military aggression, but he doesn’t rule out other destabilizing activities.

Everard: Zapad forces highest in 36 years

While portraying the calm, unrattled exterior NATO is seeking to project during Zapad 2017, Everard conveys there hasn’t been such a huge massing of Russian troops in more than three decades, since deep in the Cold War days. “You’d have to go back to 1981 to see one the scale of this particular exercise,” Everard said, revealing more than mere skepticism about the figure of “12,700” given out by Moscow.

So what “scale” is that? Even the AWACS can’t tell, as it detects aircraft within 400 kilometers (250 miles) of airspace in all directions, but can’t view objects on the ground, which is where open-source reporting is disputing Kremlin claims of a modest-sized exercise. Self-designated observers are tracking and publicizing Russian troop movements on Twitter.

Fudging figures?

“If very close to those [reportedly 12,700] troops, several thousand more troops are exercising, it doesn’t look very honest or transparent,” Everard said, hypothesizing about Russia’s official scenario. “One of our regrets is the fact that Russia hasn’t played by the rules.” He said NATO has “bent over backwards” to be transparent about its own drills.

And despite Moscow’s obfuscation, Everard believes with the AWACS above and what he calls a “very comprehensive intelligence platform” elsewhere, “we have a good handle on what the Russians are doing.” At the same time, he acknowledged, “I know people are scared and that’s a concern.”

Many observers say that’s a military success for Moscow already.

 

Belgian fighters to conduct low-altitude flights in Estonian airspace

A Belgian Air Component (Luchtcomponent) General Dynamics (Lockheed-Martin) F-16AM Fighting Falcon

TALLINN, Sep 14, BNS –  Belgian F-16 fighter jets stationed at the Amari air base in northwestern Estonia as part of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission will perform low-altitude training flights in Estonian airspace on Thursday and Friday.

The aircraft are to fly over Estonia in areas of low-altitude flights and will do so at an altitude of at least 152 meters and preferably away from populated areas, headquarters of the Estonian defense forces told BNS.

NATO member states allocate specific areas of their air space for the training and exercises of the air force, including low-altitude flights. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also allocated specific regions of their air space for carrying out low-altitude flights. The flights are performed in agreement with the Estonian Civil Aviation Administration and the air traffic service.

According to a decision of NATO, air forces of NATO member states based on rotation participate in the air policing mission of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air space since March 2004, when the Baltic countries joined the NATO. The Baltic air policing mission is part of the NATO Smart Defense concept, the aim of which is to save the resources of the member states of the alliance by contributing together to different capabilities.

A contingent of the Belgian Air Force took over the Baltic air policing mission from the Spanish Air Force on Sept. 5. 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.

 

NATO fighters to perform training flights in Estonian air space Today

A Belgian Air Component (Luchtcomponent) General Dynamics (Lockheed-Martin) F-16AM Fighting Falcon

F-16 fighter aircraft flown by pilots of the Belgian Air Component stationed at the Amari air base are to carry out training flights above Estonia today.

The aircraft are to fly over Estonia in areas of low-altitude flights and will do so at an altitude of at least 152 meters and preferably away from populated areas, headquarters of the Estonian defense forces told BNS.

NATO member states allocate specific areas of their air space for the training and exercises of the air force, including low-altitude flights. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also allocated specific regions of their air space for carrying out low-altitude flights. The flights are performed in agreement with the Estonian Civil Aviation Administration and the air traffic service.

According to a decision of NATO, air forces of NATO member states based on rotation participate in the air policing mission of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air space since March 2004, when the Baltic countries joined the NATO.

The Baltic air policing mission is part of the NATO Smart Defense concept, the aim of which is to save the resources of the member states of the alliance by contributing together to different capabilities.

A contingent of the Belgian Air Force on September 5 took over the Baltic air policing mission from the Spanish Air Force. 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.

 

Germany disputes size of Russian wargames, predicts 100,000 troops

FILE PHOTO: German German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

TALLINN (Reuters) – Germany said on Thursday that Russia was planning to send over 100,000 troops to war games on NATO’s eastern flank this month, disputing Moscow’s version that only 13,000 Russian and Belarussian servicemen would participate.

The Sept. 14-20 exercises known as Zapad, or “West” in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, are stirring unease in NATO despite Moscow’s assurances troops would rehearse a purely defensive scenario.

“It is undisputed that we are seeing a demonstration of capabilities and power of the Russians,” German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters at an EU defense ministers’ meeting in Tallinn.

“Anyone who doubts that only has to look at the high numbers of participating forces in the Zapad exercise: more than one hundred thousand,” she said in a joint news conference with her French counterpart Florence Parly.

While Baltic nations have voiced concerns about a bigger-than-reported exercise and while NATO’s secretary-general expects more than 13,000 troops, Von der Leyen’s remarks are the first time a top Western politician has called out Russia publicly on what NATO sees as the true size of the war games.

Such numbers would be legal under international treaties on war games, but would require inviting international observers.

With less than 13,000 troops, international observation of the drills is not mandatory, Russia says.

“DEMONSTRATION OF FORCE”?

An exercises on that scale is one of NATO’s most pressing concerns. France, for one, believes the war games are no simple military drill, even though Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin told Western military attaches in Moscow in August the West had nothing to fear.

Russia accuses NATO of building up forces on its frontiers in a manner reminiscent of the Cold War. But NATO says it is protecting the interests of member states bordering Russia who are troubled by Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and links to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Previous large-scale exercises in 2013 employed special forces training, longer-range missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that were later used in the Crimea annexation and in actions in eastern Ukraine and Syria, NATO diplomats said.

“Russia has a global strategy of a visible, deliberate demonstration of force,” Parly said before heading to meet French troops in Estonia as part of NATO’s deployment of deterrent forces in the Baltics and Poland.

“They have a strategy of intimidation,” Parly said, warning that any attack on a Baltic country or Poland by Russia would be considered an attack on all of the U.S.-led NATO alliance.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Ralph Boulton

 

Belgium takes over NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission in Estonia

A Belgian Air Component (Luchtcomponent) General Dynamics (Lockheed-Martin) F-16AM Fighting Falcon

In a ceremony at Estonia’s Ämari Air Base in Estonia on Tuesday, the Spanish Air Force handed over responsibility for guarding Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian airspace to a Belgian Air Force contingent flying F-16 fighter jets.

“Active air policing is an indispensable part of NATO’s visible presence and deterrence on the alliance’s eastern flank,” Ministry of Defence Undersecretary for Defence Policy Kristjan Prikk said according to a ministry press release, noting that the outgoing Spanish rotation’s fighter jets were scrambled 32 times over their four-month period. “This hints at a complicated security situation where we live and is proof that we need continued allied support in guarding Baltic airspace.”

Estonian Air Force Chief of Staff Col. Riivo Valge presented the Spanish airmen with Baltic Air Policing missions and thanked them for protecting Estonian and Baltic airspace. He also greeted the incoming Belgian airmen, who will serve based out of Ämari for the next four months.

The Belgian air contingent, which will serve the mission with four F-16 figher jets, is based on the makeup of the Belgian Air Force’s 10th and 2nd Tactical Wings. A Belgian contingent also served at Ämari from January through April of last year.

The U.S.’ General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft originally designed for the U. S. Air Force which can be used as a fighter for airspace defense, an attack aircraft against ground and maritime targets as well as for reconnaissance purposes.

 

Estonia Confirms Arrival of 2 UK Fighter Jets at Amari Air Base – Defense Forces

The Estonian Defense Forces confirmed on Tuesday the arrival of two UK Eurofighter Typhoon fighters at the Amari air base near Tallinn.

The jets arrived in Estonia to support the NATO mission in the Baltic state.

According to the Estonian Defense Forces, the jets will participate in the joint drills with the UK contingent of the NATO battalion deployed in Estonia.

Local media also reported on Tuesday that seven US F-15C Eagle fighters arrived at the air base in the Lithuanian city of Siauliai.

NATO is boosting its presence in the Baltic region on the threshold of the upcoming Russia-Belarusian joint military exercise Zapad-2017 (“West-2017”). On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Western media hype around the Zapad-2017 drills was aimed at justifying the costs of building up NATO’s military activity.

The Zapad-2017 military drills are scheduled for September 14-20. The exercise grounds will stretch from the Kola Peninsula in Russia’s far northwest all the way down to Belarus. About 12,700 servicemen (including 5,500 Russians), about 70 planes and helicopters, up to 680 units of military equipment, including about 250 tanks and 10 ships are expected to take part in the exercise.

 

NATO’s battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are now fully operational

Canadian Armed Forces members from NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Latvia arriving at Riga International Airport as part of Operation Reassurance on June 10.   Photograph By MCpl True-dee McCarthy

NATO’s four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are now fully operational. This milestone comes after the Canadian-led battlegroup based at Camp Ādaži in Latvia became the fourth battlegroup to complete its Certification Exercise.

In response to a changed security environment, Allied leaders decided at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 to enhance NATO’s military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. Since then, four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have deployed to the Baltic nations and Poland.

Canada leads the battlegroup in Latvia, with contributions by Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain. Germany leads the battlegroup in Lithuania, with contributions by Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. The United Kingdom leads the battlegroup in Estonia, with contributions by France. The United States leads the battlegroup in Poland, with contributions by Romania and the UK.

These forces are a defensive and proportionate deterrent force, fully in line with NATO’s international commitments. They send a clear message that an attack on one Ally would be met by troops from across the Alliance.

The four battlegroups are one part of the Alliance’s response to Russia’s use of force against its neighbours and its military build-up in the Baltic region and beyond.

NATO is also strengthening its multinational presence in the Black Sea region, based around a Romanian-led multinational framework brigade. The Alliance has also tripled the size of the NATO Response Force to 40,000 – with a high-readiness Spearhead Force at its core – and set up eight small headquarters (NATO Force Integration Units) to facilitate training and reinforcements.

 

 

U.S. Air Force to lead NATO Baltic Air Policing mission

F-15C Eagles, Airmen and associated equipment from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, U.K., to support the next NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. On 30 August

The U.S. Air Force is scheduled to deploy F-15C Eagles, Airmen and associated equipment from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, U.K., to support the next NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. On 30 August the ceremony at the Air Base of the Lithuanian Armed Forces in Šiauliai where Poland will turnover lead of the mission to the United States will be held.

Vice-Minister of Defence Vytautas Umbrasas,  Commander of Joint Headquarters of the Lithuanian Armed FOrces  Major General Vitalijus Vaikšnoras, Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe; U.S. Air Forces Africa; and NATO Allied Air Command commander, as well as other distinguished guests are scheduled to take part in the ceremony.

RAF Lakenheath Based USAF F-15C Eagles on Baltic Air Policing Duties at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, 2014. Credit The Aviationist, RC-PRO

Air Policing is a standing NATO peacetime task designed to preserve the integrity of allies’ sovereign airspace. This marks the fifth rotation in which the U.S. has supported this mission to protect Baltic airspace, and it demonstrates a long-standing commitment to this NATO mission.

 

Propaganda and provocation: Russia scoffs at Canada’s Baltic war games

 

Photo by Sgt Bern LeBlanc, Canadian Army Public Affairs, 3rd Can Div PA HQ

A high-level Russian official is unimpressed with Canada’s war games in the Baltics.

“There is no other way to interpret what’s going on in the Baltic republics [than] as a very provocative action,” Maria Zakharova, chief spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview with CBC News.

“How can that bring more stability to European security?” said Zakharova. “I cannot understand that. Nobody in Russia can understand that.”

Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says “nobody in Russia can understand” how bolstering NATO’s presence in the Baltic border region will make Europe more secure. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military support to separatists in eastern Ukraine spooked some Baltic republics and prompted the request for NATO to bolster its presence in the border region.

That led the Trudeau government to commit more than $350 million dollars to send Canadian troops to lead the NATO force in Latvia for three years.

Five other countries — Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Albania — are also part of Operation Reassurance.

The exercise they’ve been engaged in this past week — their first major one — is essential for testing their battle-readiness.

After five days and nights living out of a mud trench, the end is finally in sight for Maj. Chelsea Braybrook and the rest of Bravo Company.

“We’re in the last phase now,” said Braybrook, a member of the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and one of 450 Canadian soldiers stationed here as part of the Canadian-led NATO battle group.

“I’d say we have at most another 48 hours of defensive operations,” said Braybrook.

Repel attack

The aim of the exercise was to repel a conventional enemy attack with armour and infantry units and to hold a forested area about an hour’s drive north of Latvia’s capital.

Every member of Canada’s battle group wears thick camouflage makeup on their faces.

Some hunker down in foxholes, listening to orders come in over the radio in the make-believe battle.

Others are perched nearby inside LAVs — light armoured vehicles — scanning the horizon for movement.

Cpl. James Thoman says the simulation has been intense even though it hasn’t involved using live ammunition.

“It’s real as it can be without rounds flying both ways,” he said.

The enemy in this case is being role-played by their hosts — the Latvian military — and Canadian commanders say the exercise has fine-tuned communications and helped the multinational force work together.

Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu is overseeing the certification exercise for Canadian troops. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

“Although this team has been together for a very short period of time, what they have achieved so far is very impressive,” said Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu. As the senior Canadian officer at the certification exercise, it’s his job to confirm to NATO command that the Canadian-led task force is battle-ready.

Not ‘aggressors’

In the past, Russian officials have denied any ambitions to move into the Baltic states and said the expanded NATO presence along their eastern borders has only added to tension in the region.

Zakharova, known for her robust defense of Russian foreign policy, offered CBC News a more extensive explanation of Russia’s opposition.

“We are not spreading all over the world. Why do you regard us as aggressors?” she said.

Russia’s position, she said, is that NATO is wasting money putting troops in the border region when there are more serious common threats at hand.

“We’re watching more and more terrorist attacks take place all over Europe,” said Zakharova.

Western ‘propaganda’

The NATO exercises, though, may pale in comparison to manoeuvres Russia has planned in its eastern region in mid-September.

Whereas NATO’s exercises in three Baltic countries over the past month have featured roughly 5,000 troops, Zapad 2017 — Russia’s war game — is expected to be an order of magnitude larger. There are estimates suggesting as many as 100,000 Russian troops will take part.

Some security analysts have raised red flags that Russia may use the Zapad exercise as a cover to make more territorial gains.

Zakharova calls that more fearmongering. It’s just part of the “western propaganda” machine aimed against Russia, she said.

 

 

The Energy Crisis Developing between Russia and the United States may do more to incite Military conflict than Drills and Exercises

Russia currently  has a grip on the European gas market, which it uses to bully its close neighbors and shush any major European states that push back on its geopolitical ambitions. U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas – LNG, it follows, will break Russia’s stranglehold. It is a cheaper and more reliable alternative. In turn, Russia will either lose market share or compete by lowering its prices.

Russia depends heavily on its energy exports. In fiscal year 2008, oil and gas revenues reached a peak, accounting for half of the Russian federal budget. However, since the global financial crisis hit the country in 2009, the Russian economy began to run fiscal deficits. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 Russia ran budget deficits representing -0.02%, -0.7% and -0.6% of GDP, respectively. The exception was the year 2011, when the Russian budget incurred a 0.8% of GDP surplus.

Low oil prices and a collapse in domestic demand and imports as the economy fell into recession decimated fiscal revenues in 2015. In fact, the impact of low oil prices on Russia’s fiscal revenues raised questions about the country’s long-term economic prospects as well as fiscal sustainability. With the decline of energy prices and the Russian government’s dependence on energy revenues to fund its budget—revenues from oil and natural gas represented around 52% of the Russian budget—forced the Russian government to rethink its fiscal policy. The Finance Ministry announced in early September 2015 that it had decided to suspend the fiscal rule—a law designed to limit government spending.

By 2020, the United States could be sending roughly 80 billion cubic meters of LNG to Europe a year—about two-thirds of the volume that Russia exported to Europe in 2015 and just under a third of Europe’s entire gas consumption, which is 400 billion cubic meters per year (450 billion cubic meters, if one includes Turkey). It is no wonder that conflict seems imminent.

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction project will be implemented in due time despite new US sanctions, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday 18 August.

“As far as the Nord Stream 2 is concerned, in terms of US sanctions, much will depend on uncertainty the law contains and requiring clarifications. Considering that European nations are interested in gas supplies from Russia over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as well subject to their declining production and consumption growth, we are confident this project will be implemented within the intended timeframe. At least its implementation continues,” Novak said.

Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline vanishes into the Baltic Sea, which is full of unexploded naval mines from two world wars.

On August 2, US President Donald Trump signed the bill envisioning tougher sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea. The new measures allow fining European companies for participation in joint energy projects with Russia, particularly in Nord Stream – 2 and Turkish Stream.

In an effort to circumvent the sanctions imposed by the U.S. Russia has completed an energy deal with Iran. Iran can start deliveries of oil to Russia under the “oil-for-goods” program within the next month, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Friday.

“We are finalizing the last details of regulatory documents. I think I will respond to your question within one month,” Novak said confirming that supplies can start by the end of that term.

Moscow and Tehran may shortly agree upon conditions for sale of 100,000 oil barrels per day by Iran for Russia, Novak said earlier. Supplies can be either physical or swap-based, he added. Purchases will be made within the framework of the “oil-for-goods” deal.

 

Iran’s major oil and natural gas fields

Russia has turned to the Arctic to solve it’s energy crisis.  Russia’s Arctic development comes as its oil production increases despite a more than two-year long supply glut and plunge in prices.  But it also comes as the country’s oil fields mature.

Mikå Mered, managing partner at Polarisk, a consultancy specializing in polar issues said that Russia’s onshore oil and gas fields “are depleting and depleting fast.”

“If you are the Russian government today and if you want to keep having your oil and gas, you need to start developing offshore Arctic oil and gas fast,” he said.

The Wilson Center, a Washington-based independent research group, said in a recent report on Arctic drilling that Russia needs these new fields if it is going to maintain oil production levels of at least 10 million bpd by 2020 and beyond.

Russian oil company Gazprom Neft, the country’s fourth largest oil producer, said that four wells were now in production at the northern Prirazlomnoye field after two more were successfully started. The Prirazlomnoye field is an Arctic offshore oilfield located in the Pechora Sea, south of Novaya Zemlya, Russia.

Production from an ice-resistant offshore rig perched in the Pechora passed 43,980 barrels of oil per day (bpd), the company said. Full field development plans call for 32 wells. In March, the company said that it had reached a milestone with production of its 10 millionth barrel of oil at the field, while it revised its production schedule higher to 35 million barrels.

Russia is serious about developing the Arctic. Russia has four nuclear icebreakers with three under construction. Russia also possesses 37 Diesel-powered icebreakers with four under construction. The most powerful fleet in the Russian Federation, the Northern Fleet is based in Severomorsk on the coast of the Barents Sea along the Kola Bay 25 kilometers (16 mi) northeast of Murmansk. The Fleet consists of the flagship Kuznetsov, an aircraft carrying cruiser, heavy cruisers, cruisers, frigates, corvettes, SSBNs and SSNs plus many amphibious assault ships, hovercraft and Fleet aviation assets.

In 2012 the Russian Air Force decided to reopen Graham Bell Airfield as part of a series of reopenings of air bases in the Arctic. A major new base, named the Arctic Trefoil for its three lobed structure, was constructed on Alexandra Land. It can maintain 150 soldiers for 18 months and has an area of 14,000 square meters.

Russia’s Arctic Trefoil military base. Spending on Russian military bases abroad will be increased this year by more than $8.81 million.

In 2017, Russian president Vladimir Putin visited the archipelago to protect Russia’s interests in the Arctic.

The depletion of resources in Russia, sanctions from the United States and increasing tension along NATOs Eastern Flank have meant that Russia is developing new oil and gas facilities in the Arctic, initiating deals with Iran, which will benefit the economies of both countries, and forging ahead with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

The big issue for the Russian Federation is whether they can compete with the United States. Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg and Amsterdam are gearing up for an excess of imported U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas. Will Russia be able to compete?

 

THE BALTIC POST

 

 

 

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.