Di Vincenzo Santo*
(Da Financial Times – 27 agosto 2017)
Mosca. Russia is gearing up for its massive Zapad military exercises in Belarus and Kaliningrad next month but European countries are getting nervous about the drills, fearing they could be cover for Russian military mobilization to strike one of its neighbors. U.S. Army Europe commander Gen. Ben Hodges has already called the exercise a potential “trojan horse” and now Ukraine’s national security council is warning that the event could be used for an invasion of Baltic countries.
They are still more than two weeks away, but Russia’s Zapad 2017 war games — potentially the country’s largest European exercises since the cold war — are creating jitters across eastern Europe.For seven days from September 14, Russia will conduct large-scale military manoeuvres spanning western Russia, its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and its ally Belarus — which borders three Nato members, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. While Moscow claims fewer than 13,000 troops will take part in Zapad 2017, western capitals expect the number could reach six figures.Concerns are understandable. The exercises are taking place with east-west relations at their most strained since the fall of the Berlin Wall almost three decades ago and shortly after the US imposed new sanctions over Moscow’s alleged interference in its presidential election.Russia has also used drills in the past as cover for real military action. A “snap” exercise in 2014 masked the launch of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
*Generale CA ris