Tag: Pskov

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estonian military to accept invitation of Belarus to attend Zapad

Chief of General Staff of the Estonian Defence Forces Riho Terras

Estonia will accept the invitation by Belarus to send observers to the Zapad military drill to be jointly held by Russian and Belarusian armed forces this September, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces has stated.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces General Riho Terras has said this week in an interview with Eesti Päevaleht newspaper that Zapad exercises have taken place for decades already, also during the Soviet times.

Terras noted that this summer, Belarus and Russia have already conducted preparatory joint exercises testing communications in July and currently a demonstrative drill is taking place in Pskov, not far from Estonia and Latvia.

«It is important that we know what is going on. (..) That we know in detail what is going on, that we keep track of it and be prepared. But we must also be prepared when exercises aren’t being conducted. I don’t think that anything will occur in the framework of field exercises which could spill over to our side or which we will tangibly be able to see,» ERR cited Terras as evaluating in the interview.

 

Russian Airborne Forces to hold military exercises near Estonian border in September

STRUGI KRASNYE /Pskov region/, August 10. /TASS/. Russia’s Airborne Force and the Belarusian Special Operations Force (SOF) plan to hold joint military exercises near the western Russian city of Pskov, near the Estonian border in September, SOF First Deputy Chief of Staff Colonel Viktor Gulevish said on Thursday.

“We have been considering issues concerning our joint military drills, they are going to be battalion task exercises,” the Belarusian colonel said that a battalion of the Vitebsk Regiment would represent the country in the drills.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the military exercises are planned to be held at the base where the 76th Guards Air Assault Division of the Russian Airborne Force is deployed, which is located on the outskirts of the city of Pskov, as part of the Zapad-2017 (or West 2017) strategic drills.

A delegation of the Belarusian Special Operations Force has arrived to monitor the drills of Russia’s 104th Air Assault Regiment, currently taking place near Pskov.

Gulevich, who heads the Belarusian delegation, said that he had been greatly impressed by the large scale of the military exercises. “We have the same training system, only our tasks slightly differ,” he said. “We could never imagine any task that would stipulate such large-scale drills,” he added.

The Belarusian colonel also commended the efficiency of new military hardware being used during the drills, which particularly includes the BMD-4M airborne assault vehicles and Rakushka armored personnel carriers.

BMD-4M Airborne Fighting Vehicle.

 

 

 

 

Putin praises Russian Airborne Force for preserving military traditions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated the Airborne Force personnel and veteran paratroopers on the Airborne Force Day, yesterday, the Kremlin press service said.

“Today, we pay homage to the courageous and strong spirited people who chose the hard and demanding but honorable service in the Airborne Force,” the president said in his congratulatory message. “They value their brothers in arms more than anything and are always ready to stand up for the defense of our Homeland. And of course, I would like to offer my most sincere gratitude to veteran paratroopers, who courageously wrote the history of the legendary Airborne Force,” Putin added.

He stressed that soldiers and military officers continued to serve their country with dignity and honor, “they keep the military traditions of their predecessors and handle all the tasks set before them, showing excellent training skills, unity and devotion to duty.”

August 2 marked the 87th anniversary of the Russian Airborne Force as on August 2 1930, a Russian paratrooper unit consisting of 12 people conducted the first parachute jumps during military exercises which took place near the city of Voronezh. In 1932, the massive establishment of airborne units began.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the main goal of the Russian Airborne Force is participating in containment activities in strategic areas and fulfilling tasks in cooperation with other military branches aimed at resolving crisis situations in the period of threat and in the time of war. In the time of peace, the Russian Airborne Force continues to perform tasks concerning strategic deterrence and may also take part in peacekeeping operations.

Russia’s Airborne Force currently contains two air assault divisions – the 76th Guards Air Assault Division deployed to the city of Pskov and the Seventh Guards Mountain Air Assault Division (Novorossiysk), two airborne divisions – 98th Guards Airborne Division (Ivanovo) and the 106th Guards Airborne Division (Tula), four airborne brigades – the11th Guards Air Assault Brigade (Ulan-Ude), the 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk), the 56th Guards Air Assault Brigade (Kamushin) and the 83rd Guards Air Assault Brigade (Kubinka), as well as the 45th Guards Independent Reconnaissance Brigade. Besides, the Russian Airborne Force also includes logistics units and educational establishments.