Introduction — May 29, 2015
Apparently the West didn’t see this coming, although given recent events they couldn’t have missed it. So maybe the Western authorities are just acting “surprised” as this should have been expected.
For the U.S. military and its NATO allies have been edging closer and closer to Russia’s western borders. In the process they’ve been forming new ties with former Warsaw Pact members and set up forward bases where the Soviet Red Army once held sway.
The Royal Navy’s biggest ship, the landing ship HMS Ocean, will be conducting drills in the coming weeks with fifty other NATO warships and submarines in the Gulf of Gdansk, a mere 50 miles from Russia.
Little wonder then that Russia has responded, having just conducted unprecedented naval drills in the Mediterranean with China.
Meanwhile, as NATO considers establishing a permanent brigade in the Baltics, Norway, Finland and Sweden have recently been involved in one of Europe’s biggest air force drills.
Russia’s own air force drill, reported below, needs to seen in light of this. As if both the West and Russia were making preparations for what only a few years ago would have been unthinkable.
Under Yeltsin Russia’s military was an aging behemoth that bore little resemblance to the power it had been during the Soviet Union. However, Putin has changed that and with a resurgent military Russia can no longer be dismissed as it was under Yeltsin.
Rising tensions mean the prospect of open conflict between Russia, its allies and the West is very real and now openly discussed by senior NATO officials.
In the words of one senior NATO official who spoke to former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler, “We’ll probably be at war this summer”. Significantly the unnamed official added, “If we’re lucky it won’t be nuclear”.
Huge Surprise Air Force Drill Underway in Russia
Radio Free Europe — May 27, 2015
The Russian Defense Ministry says that its air forces have begun a massive exercise involving hundreds of aircraft and thousands of service personnel.
In a May 25 statement, the ministry described the four-day drill as a “massive surprise inspection,” to check combat readiness.
“The inspection involves about 12,000 military service personnel, as well as up to 250 planes and helicopters and 689 various weapons and pieces of military hardware,” the statement said.
The maneuvers began on the same day as NATO and some of its partners started an Arctic training exercise.
Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and incursions into Western airspace have led to rising tensions with the West.
A ministry spokesperson said that, during the inspection, “Long-range aviation aircraft will carry out cruise missile strikes against a mock enemy’s ground targets at the Pemboi test and training area (in the Komi Republic).”
Asked about Russia’s assertiveness in a television interview, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin joked that “tanks don’t need visas.”
Rogozin is himself on EU and U.S. blacklists as part of sanctions imposed following Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year.