Cold War 2.0: Why Russia holds so many military exercises near the borders with NATO and Ukraine

Author : Svyatoslav Bohdanov

Source : 112 International

In XXI century confrontation between East and West only came into new shapes and appeared in today's modernized format
13:47, 26 August 2016

Some say that the "cold war" is over, but Russia consistently argues that it only seems so. In fact, in the XXI century confrontation between East and West only came into new shapes and appeared in today's modernized format. Hidden, clever and seems to be endless war continues and this year Russia's steps in the military field clearly demonstrate it. So whether Ukraine and the whole world had to beware of Russia military exercises and prepare for the worst, or maybe they are nothing more than a show of force to NATO – it’s an issue that worries millions.

In January this year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced for 2016 of about 20 large-scale international maneuvers and exercises. The most intense month in the calendar of the military became August. From 14 to 19 August took place command and staff exercises "Interaction-2016". They were held in Pskov and Leningrad regions of Russia near the border of Latvia and Finland respectively.

From 15 to 20 August in the occupied Crimea and in the Volgograd region and Chechnya (Russia) passed special training of troops of radiation, chemical and biological protection, within which were tested heavy flamethrower systems of salvo fire "Solntsepek" which can with one rocket burn 40 thousand square meters, leaving only a vacuum emptiness. And all of this took place near south-eastern border with Ukraine.

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On August 23 in Belarus began joint exercises with the Collective Peacekeeping Forces "Unbreakable brotherhood 2016". They took place at the landfill site "Obuz-Lesnovskiy" close to the Polish and Lithuanian borders. And on August 25, Vladimir Putin instructed to conduct sudden inspection of combat readiness of the armed forces, which will apply to South, West and Central Military District and the Northern Fleet.

All these military trainings are part of the preparation for the large-scale strategic command-staff exercises "Caucasus-2016", which will begin in September in the Southern, North Caucasian Federal Districts of Russia and occupied Crimea and would become the culmination of the military year for  Russian armed forces. But to what extent it will be culminating - is not yet clear.

On the one hand, these training are held officially under the slogan to work out cooperation of troops "in the exacerbation of conflict in one of the border regions of the CSTO member states”, whose members are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. And subparagraph "A" of paragraph 12 of the Russian military doctrine very clearly defines what Russia sees the greatest external military danger, namely "increasing the power capacity of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and giving it global functions carried out in violation of international law, the approach of the military infrastructure of countries - members of NATO to the borders of the Russian Federation, including through the further expansion of the block."

This statement was vividly emphasized during the "Interaction-2016" military training, at which, according to the publication of "RIA Novosti", recorded female voice in Russian, English and German languages conveyed to an imaginary enemy following message: "NATO Soldiers! You are deceived! You are not peacemakers! Lay down your arms! You are fighting on foreign soil. With perfidious attack you disturb the peace of the country. You’ll get the deserved punishment and anger of the people who have not suffered defeat in any war. Drop your weapons, cease to be marionettes in the hands of your leaders! " Moreover, the geography of the majority of listed military activities is close to the borders of the member countries of NATO.

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However, we can’t deny the fact that this year the most extensive trainings are held still not near EU but very close to the Eastern Ukraine and long-suffering Donbas.

"Caucasus-2016" will allow Russian troops right at the gates of Ukraine legally deploy in military formations hundreds of troops and vehicles. We remember how in 2008 a similar training ended with a five-day war in Georgia. However, the accumulation of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine has repeatedly occurred in 2014 and 2015. Clearly, 2016 will be no exception. But to say about the possibility of a full-scale attack is still too early, as it will be very significant consequences, and it is clear that Russia does not wish them also.

Rather, it seems that it flaunts with its military potential in front of the West, trying to show the member countries of NATO, the worth of "The Great Russia" with the Allies. This openly declared to "RIA Novosti" Commander of the Western Military District of the Russian Federation Andrey Kartapolov, stressing that the exercises "Interaction-2016" did not threaten anyone, but demonstrated the strength and readiness of the Russian troops.

One can only hope that the Russian "flexing muscles" will end as the game. In fairness it should be noted that NATO troops also regularly conduct training - already on the other side of our border, in the west. And both sides say that exclusively all maneuvers are defensive. But if no one is going to attack, from whom are we defending ourselves then? Hopefully this question will remain rhetorical.

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