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Sarts: Russia wants to intimidate Baltics using Zapad 2017 military exercises

Janis Sarts/stratcomcoe.org.
Russia wants to intimidate Baltic States and their allies by using Zapad 2017 military exercises, demonstrating its strength. This has been accomplished to some extent, said Janis Sarts, Director of NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Sarts says Russia’s and Belarusia’s joint military exercises Zapad 2017 are the largest in Europe in terms of scale. On top of that, exercises are aimed at offence, not defence.
 

«Of course this creates concerns and suspicions. Still, I would not exaggerate and assume it is some kind of threat or a military provocation against Baltic States. This is not possible because it would mean attacking NATO, which is definitely much stronger than Russia,» Sarts continues.
 

But Sarts adds that Russia is trying to intimidate Baltics and their allies using these military exercises. To some extent, Russia has succeeded.
 

As previously reported, USA intensified efforts to patrol Baltic air space by sending seven F-15C Eagle fighter planes to Lithuanian military base in Siauliai in preparation for these exercises.
 

NATO battalions are currently stationed in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. Each of them has approximately a thousand troops from different countries part of the alliance.
 

The active phase of Zapad 2017 military exercises will be taking place from 14 September until 20 September.
 

Moscow and Minsk claim these military exercises are purely defensive. However, as noted by Lithuanian defence minister, «defence can be followed up by a counter-offensive and staged attack».

BNN/LETA

05-09-2017
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