DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a large-scale U.S. Army-led exercise
Defender Europe 2020 exercises worried Moscow
Russian media write that the largest NATO maneuvers in the last quarter of a century pose a threat to national security
NATO militaries complete preparations for the active phase of the Defender Europe 2020 exercise – the Alliance’s largest exercise in two and a half decades.
Currently, military equipment from the United States is arriving in Germany and Belgium, dozens of columns of military trucks and tractors have proceeded to Poland from Bremerhaven, Aachen, Mannheim and Antwerp. The personnel are airlifted from the United States to European airports, after which the soldiers and officers of the Alliance will put into operation 2,000 vehicles and about half a thousand tanks and combat vehicles in a short time..
By early April, five divisions and three corps of regular and reserve forces of the US Army will be deployed in the area of the Suwalki Corridor connecting Poland and Lithuania..
In total, more than 37 thousand troops from 18 countries, both members of the North Atlantic Alliance and NATO allies, will take part in the Defender Europe 2020..
“The worst scenario is dictated by the actions of Russia in Ukraine”
Independent military analyst Alexander Golts that the reason for such large-believes scale and lengthy exercises in the Baltic region is that, in his words, “Russia and the West have entered a new Cold War.”.
In an interview with a correspondent for the Russian service of the Voice of America, he recalled that the Trident Juncture exercises held in 2018 were also “confirmation of this sad fact.” “I have a feeling that the generals of the North Atlantic Alliance took out the scripts of the 80s from the shelves and returned to these plans. And this is natural, because if the question of a Russian military threat arises, then it is necessary to decide how to repel it. And this can be done by transferring substantial reserves from the continental United States, ”believes Alexander Golts. And he adds that all major NATO maneuvers of the seventies and eighties took place according to the following scheme: a surprise attack from the Western Group of Forces of the Soviet Army stationed in the GDR, an attempt to stop the invasion with the available means, while simultaneously carrying out a massive transfer of troops from the North American continent. “And the exercises Defender Europe 2020 are going according to the same scenario,” the expert notes.
When asked how well the NATO military’s fears about a possible military threat from the east are justified, Goltz replies: “Generals always proceed from the worst scenario. And this worst-case scenario is dictated by Russia’s actions in Ukraine. And it’s no secret that this car started spinning just after the events of 2014 “.
For Lithuania, Poland, this is the first military exercise of this scale
Military observer of the portal Delfi.lt Vaidas Saldjunas noted that Lithuania is the host country during the Defender Europe 2020 exercise. “This means that we provide all the infrastructure for the allies, and for ourselves it is a great training opportunity. In the past, our battalions or brigades were involved in such training. Now we are going to study how the division operates. And this has not happened in our country since the 30s of the twentieth century, when there was a large army in Lithuania. So for us, this is the first military exercise of this magnitude, “- emphasizes the interlocutor of the” Voice of America “.
Vaidas Saldjunas stipulates that in modern conditions, divisions rarely take part in combat operations, since, as a rule, armies operate by forces of smaller formations. But interaction with NATO allies, and first of all with the American military personnel, seems to be very useful. Moreover, the international battalion, which has been in Lithuania since the summer of 2017, will also be involved in these exercises..
Analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs Anna Maria Dyner indicates that one of the largest national contingents participating in the Defender Europe 2020 exercise is its country’s military. In an interview with a correspondent for the Russian service of the Voice of America, she said that three thousand Polish soldiers were directly involved in the maneuvers, and about ten thousand more were involved in auxiliary work. “It should be added that in addition to Defender Europe 2020, Poland will host our national exercise Anaconda, which this year is associated with the exercises of the North Atlantic Alliance. And for us, such a combination is both a challenge and an opportunity to prove ourselves, since we are taking part in such large-scale NATO exercises for the first time, “Anna Maria Dyner noted..
In the days when NATO maneuvers are being held in the Baltic States and the former Warsaw Pact countries, Russian media often report domestic conflicts between the local population and the Alliance servicemen. Therefore, the Voice of America correspondent asked an analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs how the residents of the places where the Defender Europe 2020 exercises take place relate to the fact that they have stationed military personnel from other countries. “I think they treat it well, because in these places the military personnel from the USA and other NATO countries have been on a rotational basis for quite some time. And the locals are already used to it. In addition, our servicemen told people that international exercises provide work not only for local authorities and police, but also for ordinary citizens. It can be added that we do not have domestic conflicts, on the contrary, the Poles are accustomed to the fact that they have servicemen of the North Atlantic Alliance. So everything will be fine “, – the interlocutor of the” Voice of America “is convinced.
“Often, the opposite side is credited with their own intentions.”
The Defender Europe 2020 exercise also attracted increased attention from the Russian press. For example, the website of the online edition “Vzglyad” claims that with the aim of attacking Russia, the United States is preparing a suicide country that, by shelling the Russian side, will take a retaliatory strike, and the Western media will present this as “an unprovoked start of hostilities.”.
As such a suicide country in the article “Vzglyad”, which positions itself as a business newspaper, Ukraine is named, “where a significant share of the population simply no longer understands what reality they are in,” writes the author of the article in the “business newspaper”. And he continues that the second candidate for the role of a suicide country is Poland, “where anti-Russian propaganda, like in Ukraine, is so powerful that it makes it impossible for a significant part of the population to adequately understand the situation.”.
Anna Maria Dyner is not surprised that defensive exercises are handed out by the Russian press as preparation for aggression: “Often, the opposite side is given their own intentions,” she notes. And he continues that the large-scale Russian-Belarusian exercises “West 2017” were presented by Moscow as exclusively defensive. “But if we look at their scenario, we will see that a very strong counteroffensive was also envisaged there” (https://www.golos-ameriki.ru/a/ai-veyshoria/4017344.html), – reminds the Polish expert.
“And despite the fact that there are no offensive operations in the Defender Europe 2020 scenario, the Russian side finds it surprising that such exercises are being held without such a spectacular element. Although, on the other hand, this shows that there is nothing new in Russian propaganda, and for it NATO is always an aggressor who only looks at how to seize the countries of the post-Soviet space, from where new threats to Russia will come … But in fact, in NATO, no one thinks about attacking other countries, ”emphasizes Anna Maria Dyner.
The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, linked the holding of NATO exercises with the celebrations planned in Moscow on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. In Russia, this event is called the victory of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War. “It was unleashed by Nazi Germany just under the pretext of untenable accusations against the USSR,” Zakharova said. – Today, similar theses are used in Washington, trying to put pressure on Russia. Of course, we will take into account the aggressive intentions of the United States and NATO in our own military development. We recommend NATO members to think about the consequences of their aggressive actions, which only increase international tension “.
In this regard, Vaidas Saldziunas drew attention to the fact that their name says about the nature of the maneuvers: “We will learn to defend ourselves, and first of all, the Baltic countries and Poland. These exercises have been known for a long time, including the Russian side. All concentrations of military contingents in Europe take place as publicly as possible, and if this is considered as a kind of signal, then it is really addressed to Russia: we have power, we can transfer it from American territory to Europe, we can coordinate our actions not only on on paper, but also in reality.
Moreover, unlike Russia, we do not conduct such exercises suddenly, when a large amount of military equipment and manpower suddenly accumulates at a certain geographical point. However, for Russia such behavior and such statements is a traditional thing, and there is nothing new here, ”says the military observer of the Delfi.lt portal.
“Tanks and Russian confusion pose a greater threat than Putin’s cartoons”
In an interview with TASS, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia has finally moved from the stage of “catching up” in the field of advanced military technologies to the leaders, and has a class of weapons that is not found in any other army in the world..
“I have been closely following such statements, and I must say that Putin has been repeating this passage on a regular basis for a year now,” notes Alexander Golts. And he adds that it seems to him rather ridiculous: “Putin also constantly says that Moscow is not going to participate in the arms race, while repeating that we are ahead of other countries in this race.”.
At the same time, the military analyst that Russia does possess some kind of believes hypersonic weapon, which is not in service with other countries of the world. “Another question is that the planning combat units Avangard do not give Russia any advantage. This technology was developed by the Soviet Union and was designed to overcome the missile defense that Ronald Reagan was going to create..
The peculiarity of these planning warheads is that at the final stage of the trajectory, or being in airless space, they begin to maneuver. But the fact is, the current American missile defense system does not imply interception at the final stage of the trajectory. That is, this wonderful system is designed to overcome the missile defense system that does not exist, “concludes Alexander Golts.
Anna Maria Dyner testified that Poland is very closely following what is happening in the Russian army. “And it’s not just the hypersonic missiles that Putin said give Russia an edge over the US and other NATO forces. But we take into account the reform of the Russian army, which began in the days of Anatoly Serdyukov, and we see that, in addition to rearmament, this reform demonstrates changes in the entire foreign policy of Russia. And if we consider the scenarios of the exercises “West”, we will see that they consider Poland as the target of an attack from the Russian side. And throughout NATO, there are constant discussions about what kind of relationship we need to maintain with Russia. Moreover, we see what is happening in Syria and the Donbass, we remember the annexation of Crimea, and we take into account the participation of Russian military personnel in the events in Libya. And all this Russian policy is a challenge for NATO countries, ”sums up Anna Maria Dyner.
Vaidas Saldziunas, in turn, notes that this is not the first time residents of the Baltic countries have heard about the new super-modern weapons systems of the Russian army. “Probably, on the one hand – a large number of tanks, and on the other – Russian confusion still threatened more than all these Putin cartoons. But we also see that Syria has become a great testing ground for old and new Russian technology. You need to take this into account and know your potential rival, ”the Lithuanian expert concludes..
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