Is it really just a case of freedom of movement? Details of NATO exercises at Russia’s border

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Around the western border of Russia, NATO troops can be seen carrying out maneuvers.

Poland is hosting the largest exercises of recent times NATO, Dragon 2019. Almost simultaneously, the Baltic countries and the Baltic Sea, the BALTOPS maneuvers began. These military events count on the participation of 18,000 troops and 2,500 military equipment that cover land, water and air. In this way, the Russian region of Kaliningrad is again surrounded by troops from the Atlantic Alliance.

War fire

According to Polish generals, Dragon 2019 is exclusively defensive in nature and aims to improve operational interaction with NATO military personnel. In addition to the Poles, more than three thousand members of the Czech Republic, Romania, United Kingdom, Italy, Hungary, USA, Spain, Croatia and Bulgaria are part of the exercises. The Warsaw tanks brigade temporarily commanded German tank battalions, the Telemark mechanized battalion of the Norwegian Armed Forces and the mechanized battalion of Slovakia.

The maneuvers are being carried out all over Poland, including the largest military polygon in the Drawsko Pomorskie region. Polish soldiers began their training with enthusiasm, not sparing projectiles and forces, even exaggerating a little. On the first day of the maneuvers, the polygon caught fire. The fire occupied about 100 hectares, with 30 brigades of bombers being fired to end the flames.

In the neighboring country of Lithuania, another military exercise, Iron Wolf 2019, is underway, with an official goal of integrating Lithuanian forces and NATO allies into a single combat system capable of planning and carrying out high-efficiency combat missions. Like the Poles, Lithuanians are aided by soldiers from other European countries and the United States, who are part of the multinational battalions of the Atlantic Alliance fighting group.

Sea blow

In the Baltic Sea, NATO formed a large naval group for BALTOPS exercises. Ships and aircraft from 16 NATO countries, as well as Finland and Sweden, ie about 12,000 people, 44 ships and more than 40 combat aircraft and helicopters are involved in military exercises.

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It is noteworthy that he is the second US Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, who is managing the maneuvers of the USS Mount Whitney command ship.

It should not be forgotten that the US Second Fleet, created in the 1950s, played a major role in the rivalry with the Soviet Union in the Cold War era. In 2011, US President Barak Obama dissolved the 2nd Fleet as unnecessary. But by 2018, the fleet has reemerged. The Pentagon does not even try to hide that the resurrection of the fleet was intended to contain Russia in both the Baltic and the North Atlantic. The BALTOPS exercises are the first mission commanded by the 2nd US Navy Fleet.

NATO sailors are operating in the southern Baltic Sea area, training in search and annihilation of sea mines and submarines and attempting to repel enemy air strikes. One of the main tasks is the landing of water to the ground, with marines landing on the coast near the border with Russia. An accident also occurred in these exercises. An ORP Gniezno landing ship of the Polish Navy ended up damaging its lower part during the landing of the military when colliding with an obstacle.

The Russian Baltic Fleet is following every step of the Atlantic Alliance. “For the disclosure of threats to the shipping safety of civilian vessels linked to the use of radio-electronic means by NATO ships, the Baltic Fleet is monitoring the radio-electronic situation in the maneuvering zone,” announced the Defense Management Center for Russia.

Fighters from Russia’s Aerospace Force are often forced to repel NATO aircraft from the Russian border. Thus, on June 17, Su-27 intercepted US Air Force B-52H strategic bombers, which approached the Russian borders in the Black and Baltic seas. According to US media, these bombers belong to the Fifth Fighter Wing, which is located in the state of North Dakota. One of the bombers participated in exercises on the Baltic Sea, two others are carrying out maneuvers in Romania. A week before the interception, a Su-27 intercepted two reconnaissance aircraft, a US Air Force RC-135 and a Gulf Stream from the Swedish Air Force, on the Baltic Sea.

On the other hand, bombers of the Naval Aviation of Russia in the middle of the exercises BALTOPS finished training a little the destruction of targets in the surface of the water. A few days ago, more than 10 Russian Su-24 bombers, accompanied by Su-27 fighters, performed simulation of attack against hypothetical enemy ships.

Hot season

NATO’s activity near the Russian border has not diminished for years. The Atlantic Alliance intends during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere to carry out at least 20 different maneuvers in Europe. The most intense program is scheduled for June. In the Baltic region, therefore, the Napoleon Reserve 19 maneuvers for operational reserve forces in Poland – Noble jump 19 , for operational groups of high readiness in Spain – Ramstein Guard 6 in the sphere of radioelectronic fighting in Kosovo – KFOR ST II 19, to prepare the future chiefs of staff for the new missions and general situation.

In June, CWIX 19 exercises in Poland will test telecommunication media, technology and experimental elaborations. In Norway there will be Trident jackal 19 to improve the NATO-Spain rapid mobilization capabilities in Lithuania – Ramstein Alloy, to improve interoperability among the air forces in the region. In Romania, during the Istria-19 exercises, NATO tactics, means and procedures related to anti-aircraft defense will be verified. In Hungary and Bulgaria, Black Swan 19 exercises are scheduled to train joint actions of special and conventional units, as well as Saber Guardian 19 with US participation.

On top of all this, the Pentagon continues to strengthen in Poland. Donald Trump said last week that another US military base would be built on Polish territory, which already has more than 4,500 US troops. In addition, the Pentagon will install a squadron of MQ-9 reconnaissance drones in Poland.

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