Russia’s military games for Baltic and Polish civilians and youth
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
With the Russian 9th of May celebrations of Soviet victory in World War Two approaching, many in the Baltic States are concerned about the potential risk of provocations or confrontation stemming from the more radical and disgruntled elements of the local Russian minority. Moreover, since Russia launched a shadow war in eastern Ukraine in 2014, NATO, American, and European governments have been increasingly concerned about the risks of hybrid warfare in Poland and the Baltic region.
It would be hard to imagine Athenian generals worrying about the reporting of Spartan news or even, twenty-four centuries later, Douglas MacArthur caring much about media broadcasts from the land of the rising sun. But when General Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Commander of NATO, recently called on the West to make a greater effort to counter Russia’s toxic war of disinformation against Ukraine and its western allies, his concern made perfect military sense. In a world in which the dissemination of information is a key tactical element in violent conflicts, the West and America have remained far too passive in confronting both the insidious campaign of lies on Russian state-controlled media and the notoriously effective internet recruitment efforts of terrorist groups.
Russia’s euphoric and triumphalist celebration all this week, marking the one year anniversary of Moscow's annexation of Crimea, has already drawn crowds of people, national flags in abundance, and veterans marching in various cities. Meanwhile, Russia-backed militants continue their attacks in eastern Ukraine testing the fragile truce between Kiev and the separatist forces. A year later since Moscow’s foray into Crimea, there is little evidence of Russia is willing to back down or back out of its aggressive campaign in Ukraine. What often gets blurred in Moscow’s nationalist rhetoric is that fact that Russia’s economic and military interests in Ukraine run deep, making Russia’s pull out from Ukraine unlikely in the medium to long-term.
Estonia and Lithuania have so far failed to agree on how the Baltic power grids are to be synchronized with the Western European system and a memorandum of understanding will not be signed during the EU summit on Thursday, as planned, Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas said, adding that this might be done later this year.
The Baltic prime ministers say that their countries are ready for Zapad, a major military exercise to be held jointly by Russia and Belarus in September, and feel safe after NATO partners have deployed additional capabilities in the region.
Two terminals could operate on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea controlled by the three Baltic states – in Lithuania's Klaipėda and in Estonia, which could build a small terminal, Lithuania's Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis stated on Friday. In his words, the two terminals would supplement each other along with the Inčukalns gas storage facility in Latvia.