The order of the Supreme Commander - President of Russia – on holding military exercises at the Eastern military district was received on July 12. In a day, the troops were put on alert, and the units headed for firing grounds. This check-up of combat readiness became the most large-scale one in the post-Soviet history. At a meeting with military experts and Russian media observers Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told about the conclusions that followed as a result of the maneuvers. Of course, the assessment was not without criticism. Thus, basing on the results of the inspection, it was decided to expand the air field network of the Russian air force, because enlargement of air bases is not in the interests of the security of the country. In addition, the Ministry of Defense may reconsider the plans of enlisting contract servicemen in the army.
But in general the military leadership highly appreciated the results of the exercises. The army and the Navy showed high combat skills, and the personnel acted with great enthusiasm, editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko told the Voice of Russia.
“The overall mood and general assessments are exclusively positive. It is also important to note that, according to a survey among all categories of the personnel, the exercises have, undoubtedly, aroused great satisfaction especially among conscripts and their parents. In general, today, the army learns to solve specific military tasks, and it meets the most positive perception in the troops”.
Unexpected inspections of combat readiness of the Russian armed forces are not finished with this “Far Eastern chord”: earlier, President Vladimir Putin said that inspections will become common practice for the army. In addition, there are also expected, planned activities, such as the West-2013 joint Russian-Belarusian maneuvers scheduled for September. The exercises will be held in the territory of Belarus, in the Western military district of Russia, and in the water areas of the Barents and Baltic Seas. About 13 thousand servicemen, 60 planes and helicopters and up to 250 units of military equipment will take part in them. The scenario includes training of actions against terrorist groups and illegal armed groups.
Meanwhile, the scenario of NATO’s “answer” to these maneuvers gives rise to bewilderment in the Russian Defense Ministry. The Steadfast Jazz-2013 war games scheduled for approximately the same time provide for implementation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty: rapid response to aggression against the allied country. The Russian Defense Ministry called this “jazz plan” a “relic of the cold war”. Polish military expert Lukasz Reshchinsky agrees with this assessment:
“It is obvious that elements of the well-known cold war game can be found in this reaction of the Alliance on the actions of the Union state of Russia and Belarus - it has long become NATO’s permanent strategy. Regardless of what we hear about the upcoming maneuvers - they say, they were scheduled for a much earlier time and are not a direct response to the Russian-Belarusian exercises - the fact remains: the Alliance seemed to be waiting for the Russian side to make a statement about the West-2013 military exercises in order to immediately announce their own maneuvers. I’d like to note, however, that preparation for such large-scale events is not a one month job. Therefore, it is difficult to assume that such decisions were made overnight, even in the presence of an appropriate combat readiness of the troops”.
Expert stressed that Russia no longer considers NATO or the EU as enemies. And it tries to choose partners on the basis of geopolitical interests, establishing or strengthening contacts with individual countries, such as Germany or France. So, the events associated with the forthcoming war games are unlikely to change anything in the relations between Moscow and Brussels.
However, the Russian military decided to soothe their Western colleagues. They held a special briefing at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels, where they told about the upcoming Russian-Belarusian exercises. Deputy defense Minister Anatoly Antonov has summed up the public debate. According to him, NATO representatives were invited to participate as observers at the West-2013 maneuvers so that no one has a reason to reproach Russia with secrecy and non-transparency.