In August 2015 the ELN (European Leaders Network) released a report “Preparing for the Worst: Are Russian and NATO Military Exercises Making War in Europe more Likely?” where three co-authors attracted attention to “… the increased scope and size of the military exercises conducted by both Russia and by NATO and its partners in the Euro-Atlantic area since the Ukraine crisis began”. The report compared two recently held exercises: a Russian ‘snap exercise’ conducted in March 2015, which brought together 80,000 military personnel, and the NATO ‘Allied Shield’ exercise conducted in June 2015, which brought under one framework four distinct exercises taking place along the Eastern flank of the Alliance, totaling 15,000 personnel from 19 Members states and three partner states. The report admitted that “… NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia”. That is correct observation by the ELN officials.
However, accusations that “…. the exercises are not pre-notified or publicly announced beforehand…” cannot be referred to Russia. Russia always pre-notifies NATO-member-states about such exercises. Unlike the USA and other NATO members that move their drilling forces to the foreign territories, Russia is conducting its military exercises on its own territory, with one exception – sometimes in Belarus together with is Armed Forces (in “Allied Shield” 19 members of the transatlantic alliance have been involved). If compared with 2013, the number of NATO military exercises near Russian borders have increased by 1,8 times. All these drills are bearing anti-Russian aims.
NATO has created Quick Reaction Force with 40,000 men. 75,000 US GIs can be send to any part of the world by the US Navy, up to 50,000 military men delivered by airlift. Last June five US heavy strategic bombers B-52H and B-2, capable to carry strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, landed in the UK.
NATO has 150 military bases engulfing Russia from all directions. There are no Russian military bases around the USA, the UK, France or Germany and many other NATO member-states.
The USA is attracting pilots from non-nuclear weapon states to fly dual-capable combat aircraft during Air Force exercises in Europe. Such aircraft are used to carry mock tactical nuclear bombs.
It is also important to note that despite the dissolution of the Soviet-era military Warsaw Pact, NATO, far from following that example, has expanded its membership from 12 nations to 28 till now and does not want to stop there.
The ELN report suggests four recommendations that it believes could help to defuse or at least minimize the tensions connected with the increased frequency and scale of the military exercises now taking place: 1) to increase NATO – Russia communication with regards to the schedule of exercises; 2) to utilize OSCE channels as much as possible, along with the existing catalogue of Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBMs), included i.a. in the Vienna Document – to increase military predictability; 3) to examine the benefits and dangers of intensified exercising in the border areas; 4) to start a conceptual work on a new treaty introducing reciprocal territorial limitations on deployment of specific categories of weapons, backed by robust inspections.
Because the Cold War 2.0 was unilaterally unleashed by the USA and its NATO allies that have also initiated such unprecedented military activity near Russian borders, they should stop first their military activity in the areas adjacent to Russia and submit their relevant proposals on an official basis – via diplomatic channels.