BRUSSELS, July 14. /Offset. Victoria Dubrovina TASS Denis Dubrovin/. Intensive discussion between Russia and NATO about the increased military activity was the main event held on Thursday in Brussels meeting of the Council NATO – Russia (NRC) at the ambassadorial level.
In the words of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Russia’s permanent representative to NATO Alexander Grushko, Moscow and Brussels are aware of the importance of creating the conditions to reduce tensions in Europe. Have an understanding of the need to establish mechanisms to prevent incidents, when in a restricted area by both sides is intensive military activity, which, in addition to exercises includes reconnaissance and training flights, mutual interceptions (or aerial inspections), active maneuvering of warships, the deployment of new forces near the border.
Both parties have a mutual briefings on the upcoming largest maneuvers “West-2017” and the Trident, Javelin, gave each other to understand that these exercises cause a lot of issues and also outlined several initiatives through which these issues can be try to resolve. As for the other topics of the meeting (the situation in Afghanistan and Ukraine), the discussion was less intense.
As reported Grushko, at the meeting of the NRC military experts from both sides held for each other two briefings on the exercises “West-2017” Trident and Javelin. “This is the first stage of information about these exercises. The Ministry of defence will hold a similar briefing on the OSCE and the extended briefing in Moscow before the start of the maneuvers, the planning for which is still not over,” he said.
According to him, Russia went to this briefing in order to prevent speculation and to spread unfounded accusations against him. “In recent months we have read a lot of horror stories about the exercise “Zapad-2017″, it was a lot of speculation about what these exercises will be used for the concentration of forces, to implement some aggressive intentions in respect of certain NATO countries, etc.,” he said.
“Responding to requests from colleagues in NATO, the defense Ministry has provided more information about these teachings, our military today gave a detailed briefing. We were given information about the tasks that will be worked out during these exercises, on the ranges, where [is] the deployment of forces to one degree or another, and also gave information on the capabilities that will be involved, including personnel and major weapons systems and equipment,” – said the Ambassador.
Grushko noted that the planning of the maneuvers is not finished yet, this information remains confidential, and updated data will be presented at a briefing in Moscow before exercise.
Joint strategic exercises of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia “West-2017” will be held from 14 to 20 September. As noted, the Russian and Belarusian military when developing the exercise scenario will take into account the situation associated with increased activity of NATO near the borders. The exercise will involve 3 thousand soldiers from each side, Russia also represents about 280 pieces of equipment, including 25 aircraft.
Observers and visitors
According to Grushko, Russia and Belarus to invite military observers, including from NATO countries, on the strategic exercises “Zapad-2017”. “If the number of forces involved in the exercise will reach established by the Vienna document of the OSCE threshold, observers will be invited. If not, then no,” he said.
“Do not forget that this is a Russian-Belarusian drills, a considerable part of them will be held on the territory of Belarus. As far as I know, Belarus intends to invite visitors to the individual stages of these exercises,” – said Grushko.
In accordance with the OSCE Vienna document of 2011, land doctrines are subject to international monitoring if the number of participants, over 13 thousand people. This document also includes criteria for the number of tanks and armored vehicles. For exercises different types of requirements vary. For example, during large-scale exercises in the air or the landing of a sea landing, according to the norms of the OSCE, international observers should be invited to attend the maneuvers, involving 3.5 million people.
Distrust of NATO
Stoltenberg at a press conference following the meeting, admitted that the exercise “Zapad-2017” can be used more power than officially claimed. “It’s too early to say anything, because the exercise was not yet. Judging by the experience of the previous exercises, we have every reason to believe that will involve more effort than is officially claimed now,” he said.
“Russia has provided figures on the number of troops, and also told about the ships and aircraft that will be involved. I welcome it. NATO countries asked their questions, including about the number of troops; the official number is below the threshold provided for in the Vienna document,” he said.
Thus, according to Stoltenberg, it is necessary to wait for the maneuvers themselves. “To see the teachings as they have not been conducted. But NATO will keep track of these exercises, and, of course, we will follow not only the official information from Russia, but we will use other sources”, – said Stoltenberg.
The Secretary General said that NATO does not see any threats from Russia to members of the Alliance in the upcoming teachings of the “West”. “Every country has the right to conduct exercises, this also applies to Russia. We see no threats against any country of NATO,” he said, noting that “if there is a need for inspection, then, of course, NATO will be involved”.
The maneuvers of the Alliance
According to Stoltenberg, in the exercise Trident Juncture in 2018, will bring together more than 35 thousand military NATO. The Secretary General stressed that this figure may change. “The final numbers are yet to be determined, because we are going to learn more about how many countries will send their troops,” he added.
Maneuvers of NATO forces Trident Juncture already passed twice in 2015 in Spain and Portugal and in 2016 in the Baltic States. In the first case, participation took more than 36 thousand people, while the second – about 500 troops.
At the same time, Grushko noted the extremely high intensity of the military maneuvers of the Alliance this year. According to him, over 40 thousand military will take part in dozens of NATO exercises in Europe from June to November, which is part of a plan to increase its military presence along the borders with the Russian Federation.
“From June to November in Eastern Europe, NATO will hold more than 15 exercises and about the same in the black sea region. If you count the total number of participants, it will be more than 40 thousand people, – said Grushko. – They’ll all be complementary and conducted in a single operational background, they are aimed at testing a wide range of tasks for deterrence. It is clear to us that these events provide not only the maintenance of enhanced military presence near the border with Russia, but is aimed at intense development of this potential theater of military operations, accompanied by intense development of military infrastructure there.”
The Russian Ambassador noted that NATO’s increasing military presence in Eastern Europe, implements a strategy for approaching the infrastructure of the Alliance towards Russia’s borders.
“Increasing military presence of NATO in Eastern Europe undermines stability in the region. While we acknowledge that we are talking about the implementation of the strategy for the approach of NATO’s military infrastructure to our borders, he said. – Political and military situation in Europe was seriously deteriorating, the pumping of NATO on the Eastern flank of weapons and equipment under absolutely far-fetched pretext of the Russian threat. We stressed that these measures will seriously weaken regional security, they do not meet the real security needs, and we reiterated that in this situation Russia will not remain indifferent, and all measures to protect our interests we will take”.
To compare the potentials
Russia offered NATO to gather military experts and professionally discussing the real balance of power in Europe. “We once again drew NATO’s attention to our proposals, to raise the military, who would sit at the table and professionally and without emotion on the cards held a joint assessment of the real military capabilities of [Russia and NATO] in Europe,” – said Grushko.
“Our idea is to invite the military to discuss all of the factors influencing the situation in the security field, including continuous deployment of new forces or deploy units on a rotational basis. We believe that without proper, systematic and business contacts between the military will be very difficult to understand what is happening, and to avoid misinterpretations of the situation,” – said the permanent representative.
The Ukrainian question
Russian permanent representative also noted that NATO’s actions in support of Ukraine actually encourage Kiev to continue the war in the Donbass. “There is a danger that actions that are taking NATO countries in Ukraine, and all assistance programmes, other signals, essentially aim to encourage the Kiev authorities to maintain the current situation and the stalemate in the military situation in the Donbass. Thus, NATO’s position is clearly contrary to the common interest of a lasting solution to the crisis in Ukraine”, – he said.
According to Grushko, the discussion topic of Ukraine on the NRC “the discussion in fact was not.” “The situation is clear to everyone. The Minsk process continues to be hampered primarily by the reluctance of the Kiev authorities to implement fully the political package which they are registered, and a reluctance to really go for measures for breeding of heavy weapons of the parties, without which it is impossible to achieve a lasting ceasefire, he said. We stressed that NATO countries continue to talk about a certain special responsibility of Russia, but the verbal speaking in favor of the implementation of the Minsk agreements, no specific measures to encourage the Ukrainian authorities to fulfill the Minsk agreements, did not take”.