The saying goes “fear has big eyes” and means that someone is excessively afraid of someone or something. Remember the Russian popular tale about it, where an old woman took a hare for a “big bear”, her grandson for a “terrible wolf”, and a mouse for a “horrible cat”. What a fright each of them had …
In that case the question is about fear mongering in Poland and the Baltic States that Russia is a terrible aggressor. One would be happy with it if it were individual politicians being scared, but these “bogeyman stories” scare all the population of their countries, NATO allies, requiring an ”immediate and effective defense” against Russia of the alliance.
The passions had hardly calmed down in Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn in connection with the Russian Federation’s actions for “reducing Georgia to peace” after its aggression against South Ossetia, when a new rise appeared to attack the foreign policy of the Russian Federation, to “deep doubts” about its peaceableness and fear of aggression on the part of the east neighbor. This rise is the Russian-Byelorussian West 2009 military exercises.
According to Polish mass media, the Russian Army during the West 2009 exercises were allegedly training an attack on Poland. Such a conclusion follows from Deputy Minister of Defense S.Komarovsky’s words, he said at a meeting with the Seim deputies. To strengthen the information about the Russian threat, S.Komarovsky reminded the deputies of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Seim, that new Russia’s defense doctrine makes a provision for preventive nuclear attack even in case of regional and local wars.
The Polish General Staff Representative Yuzef Vasiatko said that the Russian troops had trained landing at the beach, reminiscent of the Polish coast. How terrible! As if earlier the Russian Baltic Fleet had exercised landing of troops elsewhere, except Khmelevka firing ground. Surely, there was also the Polish Ustka, when the Baltic Fleet exercised missions jointly with the Navy of the People’s Republic of Poland and People's Navy of the German Democratic Republic within the Warsaw Pact Organization. But today one does not remember it.
According to other Polish politicians, the West 2009 exercises are not merely military exercises, this is frightening. And the Polish Vprost newspaper, referring to some important documents that come to it in inexplicable fashion, informed its readers that during the joint Russian-Byelorussian exercises in Byelorussia Russia imitated land and air attack on Poland with the use of nuclear weapon. It follows from the edition that contrary to official assertions of defensive nature of the exercises, an offensive operation was trained there. They say, the Russian Air Force had trained itself in nuclear warhead missiles launching, and military units quartered in Kaliningradskaya oblast, carried out assault landing “at the Polish coast.”
The Polish politicians’ concern about conducting the Russian-Byelorussian exercises near Polish borders was expressed in an address by R.Sikorsky, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland with a formal letter to NATO Secretary General.
The West 2009 exercises really alarmed the Baltic States too that have taken and evaluated them as direct threat to their security. According to the declaration of Imants Liegis, Minister of Defence of Latvia, at the exercises Russia and Byelorussia worked out the scenario of a raid into the Baltic States, of repulsing an attack on Kaliningradskaya oblast. “The scenario was the following: Byelorussia’s territory was divided into two parts, a conflict occurred and forces in fact must have formed a corridor between Kaliningrad and Russia on the territory of Lithuania. Furthermore the Baltics were used as a springboard,” said the Latvian Minister of War.
“The Russian-Byelorussian West 2009 military exercises near Lithuania’s borders reminded the breath of the Cold War, because they do not correspond at all realias of security,” said Rasa Jukneviciene, Lithuania's Minister of National Defense. And Urmas Paet, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia believes that the “goal of manoeuvres was to find out how to cut off the Baltics from NATO.”
According to declaration of Presidents of Lithuania D.Grybauskaite and Estonia T.Ilves, made on October 8, 2009, they plan to try to obtain from the North Atlantic Alliance the Baltics defence planning in case of aggression on the part of the Russian Federation. At the same time the President of Lithuania emphasized that this plan must be included in NATO’s new strategy being worked out. The Presidents of Lithuania and Estonia also intend to ask the alliance leadership to expand article 5 of the Washington Treaty establishing NATO (1949), which, in their opinion, must provide for not only obligations to render assistance to an ally being attacked, but also help in connection with a possible attack threat.
In this context the Baltic States also suggest to locate American soldiers on their territory. And though they declare in Washington that the USA do not intend to create its base on the territory of these countries, one cannot but see that these actions are of coordinated nature and directed to revising the agreements between NATO and the Russian Federation, according to which on the territory of new member states of the alliance foreign armed forces will not be located.
Aside from that, the President of Estonia T.Ilves offered in response to the West 2009 exercises of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Byelorussia conducted in immediate proximity to borders of the member states of the North Atlantic Alliance, to conduct a similar by scale exercise of the land component of Joint NATO forces. Furthermore he focused attention that the exercise region must be situated on the territory of the countries, near whose borders the West 2009 exercises had been conducted. The proposal of the President of Estonia to conduct NATO large-scale exercises in the Baltic States in response to the West 2009 exercises was supported in Latvia being even ready to finance these exercises.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen making an official visit to Latvia, said that he does not see Russia as a threat to the Baltic States or any other NATO state, trying to dispel Poland’s and the Baltics’ fears in relation to Russia and the conducted jointly with Byelorussia West 2009 exercises. Commenting upon the conducted by Russia near the Baltic States’ borders military exercises, he noted that the alliance too has both corresponding plans and tools to grant protection of all NATO members, including the Baltic States. He said that the alliance leadership attentively watched the West-2009 military exercises and thinks that “they do not threaten any of NATO member states.” And he really knows well, what threatens the alliance and what does not. He emphasized at that the importance of the development of mutual trust in relations between the North Atlantic Alliance and the Russian Federation.
At the same time NATO Secretary General said that he does not rule out a possibility of conducting military exercises in the Baltic States to reduce their fears of the build-up of Russia’s military might. Speaking at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels A.F.Rasmussen, particularly, noted: “I do not rule out that in the future such manoeuvres can be conducted to confirm the alliance presence in the Baltics.”
Unexpectedly, apparently not without participation of representatives of Poland and the Baltic States, one began to speak of “bogeyman stories” about the West 2009 exercises in November in NATO structures in Brussels. Over a month has passed after the exercises and only on November 18 NATO Spokesman James Apparturai said that the North Atlantic Council is anxious about scales of the Russian-Byelorussian exercises that took place in September 2009, and considers them as breach of the international obligations assumed by Moscow. The alliance’s anxiety is also aroused by the fact that Russia had not invited NATO observers to manoeuvres. Speaking оf the breach of the international obligations, Apparturai referred to the Vienna Document of 1999 that provides for the exchange of information on conducting large scale military exercises.
But after the declaration of the Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin that Moscow “does not accept complaints” of the alliance concerning the exercises, NATO Spokesman had to specify the meaning of the previous declaration. Particularly, Apparturai refuted his own information that the West 2009 exercises broke Russia’s international obligations by their scale. He explained that “technically any provisions of Vienna Documents were not broken,” but at the same time he reserved the last word and confirmed that the scale and region of conducting exercises “do not correspond to the spirit of Vienna Documents” all the same.
So “bogeyman stories” about the Russian-Byelorussian West 2009 military exercises are a tale “about the fear with big eyes,” or someone's political order, part of certain forces’ system work to discredit defense policy of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, to form Russia’s image among Europeans, as a potential aggressor?