Recently, politicians and media in Poland and the Baltic countries have been actively discussing the Russian-Belarusian West-2013 strategic military exercises scheduled for this autumn. The fact of conducting exercise is of great concern for the political elites of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, which intend to seek from Russia "openness and transparency in the planning and conducting the upcoming maneuvers".
The discussion in the Western media was initiated by statements of the former deputy head of the Ministry of National Defence, Romuald Szeremietiew, who in mid-January declared that Belarus and Russia were preparing for an attack on Poland. The intentions of Minsk and Moscow to work through the plan of attack on Warsaw, according to the former official, are just evidenced by the West-2013 joint military exercise.
Later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Radosław Sikorski voiced support for Szeremietiew. He noted that the previous West-2009 exercise was a provocation against Poland. Also the Polish Foreign Minister declared the readiness of the Polish armed forces to conduct exercise as part of NATO alliance in their country.
The theme was continued by Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas, who expressed the view of hostile orientation of the Belarusian-Russian exercise to be conducted near the Lithuanian border. Although then there was no official information about the plan of this exercise and its participants, the Lithuanians had time to assume that according to its scenario the West-2013 exercise will resemble the strongly criticized West-2009. At that time, according to the Ministry of Defence of Lithuania, the legend of the maneuvers, in addition to the invasion of allied ground forces into the Baltic countries, also stipulated a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Warsaw.
Concern over the upcoming military exercise was also expressed by Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks. According to the Latvian side, there is very little information on the exercise of such a large scale. Thus Latvia hopes that "the question of the exercise will be cleared in May at the summit of the heads of the armed forces of NATO and Russia".
Up to date, according to unofficial information announced in the Polish Polityka Wschodnia, the West-2013 exercise will be attended by about 20 thousand Russian and Belarusian troops. Among the exercise scenarios a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Warsaw is considered. Military experts also do not rule attempts to breach the Polish cyberspace. Such a demonstration of force, according to the newspaper, can cause not only a psychological effect, but also a real damage to the countries attacked. From this point of view, it seems significant that the NATO Cyber Security Center is located in Tallinn, and the Americans constantly declare the need for strengthening digital security. In addition, the Polska newspaper refers to "Moscow’s threats" with the Iskander missiles, located in Kaliningrad region.
Thus, politicians of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland express concerns about the unreasonably high activity of the Russian military in the Baltic region and require from the military leadership the team building between NATO forces stationed in the Baltic countries.
In this context, in 2013, NATO plans to conduct at the Russian borders a series of military exercises. The largest of these will be a Steadfast Jazz 2013 collective defense exercise to be held this November on the Drawsko tank range near the town of Szczecin, Poland. According to experts, it will be the largest military exercise in the last 20 years. The exercise will be of a clearly anti-Russian and anti-Belarusian nature, since the main goal of the maneuvers is the large-scale strategic offensive eastwards operation exercise, blocking the Kaliningrad region, the isolation of the Russian Baltic Fleet.
On the threshold of Steadfast Jazz, the Polish Armed Forces will practice the skills in the Dragon 2013 battle exercise with the involvement of the 16th Polish Armored Division. It is also planned to carry out the Eagle 2013 Air Force exercise and the Maple Arch 2013 joint Polish-Lithuanian airmobile forces maneuvers.
Currently, according to the estimates of foreign military experts, the group of NATO allied forces in Europe outnumbers the group of the Russian armed forces by tanks 9 times, by aircraft 5 times, and (which may be most important) has absolute superiority in long-range cruise different-based missiles, and generally in precision weapons.
In addition, the North Atlantic Alliance is confident of surpassing Russia also in qualitative indexes of the armed forces. According to NATO analysts’ estimates in due time made public by WikiLeaks, the West-2009 exercise showed that "Russia has a very limited capacity to carry out operations involving aircraft, and is also based on the old and unsuitable weapons. Its army can not operate in all weather conditions. There is a lack of strategic vehicles." Obsolete equipment, low morale, poorly developed friendly relations between the soldiers, the aging officer corps, which can not be flexible anymore – all of this, according to NATO’s analysts, suggests that the Russian army as a "colossus with feet of clay".
Obviously, these findings provided the basis for the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen to say on February 2 in Vilnius about the West-2013 exercise that the alliance "does not consider Russia as a threat". At the same time, the build-up of military activity of the Alliance at the Russian border is pled for the NATO members’ domestic audience by increased military threat from Moscow.
Thus, it should be stated that at present, the Western media began to carry out propaganda campaign which aims to show aggressive aspirations of Russia and Belarus against the Baltic States and Poland. The primary audience covered by the campaign is the population and the military of their own countries as well as Russia and Belarus. NATO military-political leadership seeks thereby to plead its own significantly increased military activity near the borders of Russia.