Moscow argues that in exercise will participate 12.700 military, while NATO believed that deployment will be much higher
Russia and Belarus began on Thursday controversial joint military exercises “Zapad-17” (West, 17) that have led to demonstrations of protest and fear in Ukraine, Poland and three Baltic States. The maneuvers will last until 20 of September in Russian territory (including enclave of Kaliningrad) and belarus. In m participate officially 12.700 soldiers (7.200 of Belarus and 5,500 for Russia, of which over 3,000 are in territory of Belarus). In addition to be mobilised 70 aircraft and helicopters, and 680 vehicles and war equipment, including 250 tanks and more than a dozen ships. According to ministry of Defense of Russia, number of participants is lower than that establish confidence-building measures in Vienna, a document signed by 58 countries of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which dates from 1990, and that Russia signed, on several occasions, last in 2011. According to this document, to establish measures of observation that are mandatory for maneuvers with more than 13,000 participants.
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NATO, including its secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, is wary of figures of Russian federation. Different military representatives of Alliance and countries of this organization (Germany among m) argue that uniformed police mobilized in “Zapad-17” are more than 100,000. Stoltenberg has accused Moscow of “manipulating” figures in past, for example in march to may period of 2014, when in framework of maneuvers called “Spring Roller”, as he said, Moscow mobilized 90,000 troops, placing m along ir boundaries in such a way that authorized limits are not formally were overcome.
The main purpose of maneuvers is “to verify capabilities of two countries to ensure safety” of ir alliance and ir “readiness to reject a potential assault”. Russia and Belarus are strategic partners and Russia has military facilities in Belarus, although not as many as I wanted, as president of Belarus, Alexandr Lukashenko, did not authorize installation of a grouping of air permanent. On belarusian territory maneuvers will take place in six polygons of testing different.
Belarus has invited military observers, aggregates of defense accredited in Minsk and representatives of NATO, OSCE, UN and Red Cross, but western representatives claim that number of observers admitted, close to 80, it is not enough to calibrate what is happening. The offer of observation belarusian, however, is more generous than that Russia has been formulated for maneuvers that will take place in its territory. The observation is restricted, and observers are not able to cover all events.
The manoeuvres “Zapad-17” are third in a series that began in 2009 and continued in 2013. However, in those two occasions military exercises Russian-belarussian not caused misinterpretations that today trigger. The relations between Russia and NATO deteriorated dramatically beginning in 2014 when Russian military masked and without identification occupied Crimea, and after when y supported separatists in East of Ukraine, something that Russia denies officially until today. The exponential increase of distrust is refore factor that separates those exercises of se. On or hand, you must take into account doctrine Russian military and role of “unpredictability”.
The observer military Russian Alexandr Golts has said that “unpredictability” is a letter privileged to Russia, which, he said, will attempt to hide low combat capability of ir military units whose troops have not been completed. According to Golts, Russia will attempt to create impression of great military power, but it is a “propaganda campaign”, of what is called “doctrine Gerásimov” in allusion to Valeri Gerásimov, chief of general staff of Russia, which in 2013 referred to relative role of army in modern wars, in relation to propaganda, disinformation, and new technologies. This type of warfare was put to test in Crimea and in Donbás.
The critics of “Zapad-17” allege that Russia, thanks to maneuvers, it could invade or countries, including same Belarus, and also, that you stay in Belarus as a kind of “Trojan horse”. Referring to thousands of cars allegedly loaded with more than 4,000 Russian soldiers to occupy Belarus, president Lukashenko said, “do not be naive (...), in same way y came y will leave. Everything is controlled”. For its part, Ministry of Foreign affairs Russian has described as “artificial” hype unleashed by maneuvers. The purpose of this hubbub, says in a press release, is to demonstrate to public opinion of western that are “justified” costs to maintain a presence in forefront of NATO and increasing military activities of Alliance.
After maneuvers of Moscow and Minsk, it will be his turn to NATO held maneuvers “Dragon-17” of 23 to 29 of September in Poland. In region central european face today (by deployments, war and hostile rhetoric) new blocks of post-cold war waiting for politicians to find a new basis for addressing spiral of distrust.