Controversial russian manover:threat to the west?

Controversial russian manover:threat to the west?

Tanks roll over field roads, fighter jets take to the skies, missile launchers are adjusted. So far, there are only a few pictures of the controversial russian-belarusian rough manover "sapad" (west), which has now begun.

The ministry of defense in moscow said that the military leadership received the first instructions for the seven-day exercise in the morning.

The manover is intended to train on the basis of modern conflicts and to train the fighting forces of both countries, it was said. To this end, a scenario has been devised in which the russian and belarusian forces fight together against the three fictitious enemy countries of vishnoria, lubenia and vesbaria.

Bordering baltic states and poland are particularly concerned about a possible attack on eastern nato and eu countries. Moscow ministry appeased that autumn manover is for training of russian troops and is purely routine. "The exercise has a purely defensive character and is not directed against any state or group of countries," it hailed.

Each year, a different military district will host such a scenario, named after the region in each case. Last year, such a drill took place in the caucasus in the south of russia; in 2009 and 2013, there were also manovers called "sapad" in the western part of the country.

According to moscow, this year’s manover will take place at six breeding sites in belarus. Some 250 tanks and about 70 aircraft are expected to be deployed. In addition, air force tactical manovers to be rehearsed in russia. According to official figures, 12,700 soldiers from both countries are to take part in the coarse maneuver: 5,500 russian and 7,200 belarusian soldiers.

However, some western countries and nato believe that the actual number of participants could be much higher and that moscow and minsk are thus violating the international rules of the game. Russia cites the figure of 12,700 only to circumvent commitments it has made as a member of the organization for security and co-operation in europe (OSCE).

Among other things, these provide for OSCE states to enable extensive monitoring of military manovers involving more than 13,000 soldiers. Even flying over the manover area and talking to soldiers involved in the manover were allowed, according to the report.

However, the kremlin sees no reason for criticism. "It is a very common practice of any country to conduct such exercises," said russian presidential spokesman dmitry peskov. The deprivation of nato and the eastern eu countries is an absolute provocation. "Everything is done strictly according to the people’s law and the agreed regulations." Moscow had sought maximum transparency in advance.

For this reason, the u.S. Had already moved seven fighter jets to lithuania by the end of august, and u.S. Military vehicles had been delivered to poland. "We ourselves are now better prepared because we have more deterrence and defense tools on our territory and our partners, our friends from NATO are also helping us," said lithuanian president dalia grybauskaite.

"The russian rough manover is a cause for concern," the vice president of the eu parliament, alexander graf lambsdorff, announced. "Russia must return to a foreign policy that is geared to its own legitimate security needs, not to unsettling and intimidating its neighbors," said the FDP politician.

According to CDU politician franz josef jung, moscow is deliberately creating threat fears in the baltic states and poland, thus causing further distrust in the west. "Russia has no real interest in improving relations with the west and its neighboring states or in reducing tensions," he announced.

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