July 22, 2013
Polish and Baltic Leaders Concerned About Upcoming Russian War Games
By Boris Egorov, Russia Beyond the Headlines
Latviaâ€™s Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks said on July 19: â€śWe want Russia to invite us to take part in the exercises and weâ€™ll be able to observe them and give an assessmentâ€ť. The minister believes that the exercises would imitate the attack on the Baltic States. â€śI donâ€™t believe that such scenario will differ from the previous one (Zapad-2009), although it has its nuances. In any case they will be aimed at our region,â€ť Pabriks said. . . .
Similar concerns are shared by Lithuanian officials. According to the 2012 report of the Second Investigation Department under Lithuaniaâ€™s Ministry of National Defence, there is a possibility that not only defensive but also offensive operations may take place at the Zapad-2013 drills, as well as intentional and non-intentional violations of the Lithuaniaâ€™s land and air borders. Military activity in the Western direction is treated by Lithuaniaâ€™s military Russiaâ€™s demonstration of military power.
Polandâ€™s military representatives shares Baltic concerns over the Russian-Belarusian military drills and the overall geopolitical situation in the region. General Roman Polko, former commander of Polandâ€™s special operations unit GROM and deputy head of the countryâ€™s Bureau for National Security told Polsat TV on June 10 that Russia threatens both Poland and Belarus and that Zapad-2013 will have an â€śaggressive characterâ€ťtowards neighbouring NATO states. Earlier this year Polandâ€™s Defence Minister Tomasz Simoniak stated that Warsaw would prefer a return to â€śgood old NATOâ€ť and the US decision to cancel the fourth phase of the European missile defence shield reflected Washingtonâ€™s â€śhesitationâ€ť In Europe.