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.
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.
Latvia’s new State Defense Strategy, approved by its Cabinet of Ministers on May 24 is an ambitious declaration for a stronger defense buildup. At the same time, it represents a kind of “wish list” just ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s approaching July summit in Warsaw, during which Alliance members are expected to discard their policy of “trust,” in favor of a policy of “deterrence”.
Canadian military divers have published explosive footage from NATO's Operation Open Spirit, an annual rotating mine-clearing operation targeting naval mines in the Baltic left over from World Wars I and II.
Starting in 2017, Washington plans to begin heel-to-toe rotations of an armored brigade from the United States in Eastern Europe. In some respects, this represents a significant improvement over the assurance and deterrence steps taken by the United States and several of its NATO allies since 2014.
It has often been remarked that politics can make strange bedfellows, bringing together groups that one could not imagine agreeing on anything. That is what has been happening in Latvia, where Latvian nationalists and ethnic-Russian residents of that Baltic country—for quite different reasons—both support restricting any further immigration into Latvia from the Russian Federation.