Thursday

21st Mar 2019

Russia and Nato rehearsing for war, report says

  • Nato's Allied Shield exercises involved troops in Latvia in June. (Photo: Nato)

Russian and Nato drills indicate they are “preparing for a possible confrontation”, in a political climate which risks accidental war, a British think tank warns.

The European Leadership Network (ELN), a London-based NGO, profiled a massive Russian exercise in March and a smaller Nato drill, called Allied Shield, in June.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Russian manoeuvres saw soldiers wake up on 16 March to orders which eventually drew in 80,000 servicemen.

Russian airborne troops simulated an invasion of Latvia supported by attack helicopters and artillery, while its Baltic Sea fleet carried out search and destroy missions and air defence operations.

Its Northern Fleet, based in the Barents Sea, conducted similar exercises, supported by strategic bombers and fighter jets.

Its Black Sea Fleet carried out anti-submarine sweeps. Russian troops were also mobilised in Arctic regions and in the Far East Sakhalin and Kuril islands.

On the Nato side, four separate drills involved 15,000 troops from 19 member states.

One drill practiced amphibious landings in Nato member Poland and in Nato ally Sweden and simulated operations against the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

A second one rehearsed tank battles with close air support in the Baltic States and in Poland.

A third one saw the first-ever deployment of Nato’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, a new unit designed to deter Russian aggression, in Poland.

With both Russia and Nato using live fire, and with attempts to monitor what the other side is doing leading to “close military encounters” between Russian jets and Nato naval assets, the ELN warns the activities risk making “war in Europe more likely”.

“We do not suggest that the leadership of either side has made a decision to go to war … but the changed profile of these exercises is a fact and plays a role in sustaining the current climate of fear and tension in Europe”, the NGO’s director, Ian Kearns, said.

Russia did not comment on the ELN report, but its previous line is that it is responding to Nato expansion.

Carmen Romero, a Nato spokeswoman, said the ELN study “misleadingly puts Nato and Russian exercises on par”.

She noted that the Russian drills simulate offensive operations and involve nuclear assets, while the Nato exercises are defensive and conventional in nature.

She said Russia has violated international commitments, under the so-called OSCE Vienna Document, on pre-notifying Nato of its actions.

She also said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its war propaganda puts its behaviour in a different light.

“These exercises are part of a more aggressive Russian military doctrine, dangerous political rhetoric, increased military deployments, and the annexation of Crimea. This is the new strategic reality in Europe”.

’Red hot’

The ELN survey comes amid fresh worries of escalation in east Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday said Russian proxy forces, on Monday, launched a tank, artillery, and Grad rocket-backed assault on Starohnativka, a Ukrainian-controlled town.

International monitors, from the Vienna-based OSCE, described it as “a significant increase in ceasefire violations”.

The EU foreign service, in a statement, also complained about “attacks on several government-controlled areas”.

The British defence minister, Michael Fallon, who was in Kiev on Tuesday, added: “This must not be allowed to be [called] a frozen conflict … it seems to me pretty red hot”.

Russia, which denies playing any role in the conflict, blamed the flare-up on Ukrainian aggression.

Local spokesmen for the Russian-occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in east Ukraine said Ukrainian forces shelled themselves as a pretext for new hostilities.

MH17

Russian state media, on Wednesday, also reacted to a report by Dutch investigators into the MH17 disaster last summer.

The Dutch Safety Board, leading the enquiry, said it found “possible Buk missile parts” at the crash site, which are “of particular interest”.

The prevailing theory is that Russian proxies shot down the passenger plane with a Russian-supplied Buk system because they thought it was a Ukrainian military plane.

The Dutch statement noted that “at present” the conclusion “cannot be drawn that there is a causal connection between the discovered parts and the crash of flight MH17”.

Russia’s flagship broadcaster, RT, said, in its headline, this means there is “no proof” of Russia’s guilt.

Investigation

French eyes for a Russian tiger

Russian tanks are using French technology in Ukraine. But will Russia's new "star" tank, the T-14, also rely on EU-made kit?

News in Brief

  1. EPP proposes suspension for Orban's Fidesz
  2. May asks for Brexit extension until 30 June
  3. Juncker: Brexit decision unlikely this week
  4. North Macedonia EU-membership talks set for June
  5. EU ups benefits rights for mobile workers
  6. Chinese leader visits Italy, France as Rome joins 'Silk Road'
  7. EU agrees to sanction political parties breaching data rules
  8. EPP votes Wednesday on future of Orban's party

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery
  2. Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban
  3. A compromise proposal for the Article 50 extension
  4. US glyphosate verdict gives ammunition to EU activists
  5. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  6. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance
  7. EU rolls out €525m for military projects, but bars illegal tech
  8. May to seek Brexit extension amid UK 'constitutional crisis'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  3. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  5. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  6. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us