July 22, 2013
Polish and Baltic Leaders Concerned About Upcoming Russian War Games
By Boris Egorov, Russia Beyond the Headlines
Latviaâs Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks said on July 19: âWe want Russia to invite us to take part in the exercises and weâll be able to observe them and give an assessmentâ. The minister believes that the exercises would imitate the attack on the Baltic States. âI donât 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 Pabriks said. . . .
Similar concerns are shared by Lithuanian officials. According to the 2012 report of the Second Investigation Department under Lithuaniaâs 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 Lithuaniaâs land and air borders. Military activity in the Western direction is treated by Lithuaniaâs military Russiaâs demonstration of military power.
Polandâs 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 Polandâs special operations unit GROM and deputy head of the countryâs Bureau for National Security told Polsat TV on June 10 that Russia threatens both Poland and Belarus and that Zapad-2013 will have an âaggressive characterâtowards neighbouring NATO states. Earlier this year Polandâs Defence Minister Tomasz Simoniak stated that Warsaw would prefer a return to âgood old NATOâ and the US decision to cancel the fourth phase of the European missile defence shield reflected Washingtonâs âhesitationâ In Europe.