Fragments of NATO's largest Defender Europe 20 exercise, which failed due to the coronavirus pandemic, scattered across the Old World like splinters of the broken mirror from a famous fairy tale. They were welcomed with joy and enthusiasm by NATO neocons as represented by the Baltic States, Ukraine and Georgia, seeking to obtain the status of the Alliance's partner with expanded capabilities, and, of course, Poland that is ready to pick up the European NATO leader's flag falling from the slack hands of Germany.
Thus, after Defender Europe 20 was officially cancelled, Estonia held major Spring Storm maneuvers, involving 9 thousand military personnel from 13 countries. Two drills (Steel Brawler and Iron Spear) were hosted by Latvia, which plans to hold another multinational exercise this month, Tobruk Arrows 2020, engaging the air defense forces this time. Lithuania would have been happy to join its neighbors, but too many of its soldiers got infected with the coronavirus, so the demonstration of North Atlantic unity had to be put on the back burner.
Finally, it's Poland's turn. On June 5, the Allied Spirit comprehensive exercises began at the Drawsko Pomorskie training ground. At the opening ceremony, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said that the drills would testify to the close interaction between Polish and American soldiers. 4 thousand American and 2 thousand Polish servicemen take part in the exercises, with more than 2 thousand units of military and combat equipment expected, including 100 tanks, 230 combat vehicles, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, as well as F-16 fighters and Mi-24 helicopters.
Documents of the US Army Europe command refer to these exercises as the Defender Europe 20 Plus. Their plan is in complete accord with the April scenario, according to which units of the 2nd Armored Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division of the US armed forces and the 12th Mechanized Brigade of the 12th Mechanized Infantry Division of the Polish army force a passage in the face of resistance from the simulated enemy virtually denoted by a Polish army group.
During the exercises, a divisional command post was deployed next to the city of Poznań. Following the command and staff phase aimed to check the headquarters' readiness to cooperate under a joint operation, the key tactical mission of the exercise will be worked out, namely the crossing of a water barrier involving armored and airborne troops.
According to statements by the participants ' agents, a thorough epidemiological situation analysis was carried out ahead of the exercise, with all the military personnel taking COVID-19 tests. Those will also be conducted in the course of the drills. They are set to end on June 19.
Poland takes part in other activities of the Alliance as actively as can be. Thus, in late May, as part of a "deterrence mission", American B-1B Lancer strategic bombers took off from Ellsworth air base (South Dakota) and flew over European countries, including Ukraine for the first time with access to the Black Sea zone. During the flight, they were accompanied by the Polish F-16s and MiG-29s, the Ukrainian SU-27s, as well as aircraft belonging to other NATO member states.
In parallel with the Allied Spirit, the south-western part of the Baltic sea hosts the large-scale annual NATO maneuvers BALTOPS 2020. It involves 29 ships and submarines, naval aviation and 3,000 navy sailors from 19 countries, including Poland. The event will cover anti-submarine and anti-aircraft defense missions and a maritime blockade of the coast.
It should be noted that Poland's claims to be the point of NATO's spear targeted against Russia look rather rightful. Amid Paris and Berlin's rebellious sentiments, Warsaw is building a special relationship with Washington and enjoys President Donald Trump's undisguised good graces. Last summer, the latter allowed for expanding the US armed forces' five-thousand contingent in Poland. Therefore, Trump's recent statement about reducing the number of American troops in Germany by 9,5 thousand by September this year, gave Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki a handle to ask Washington to host the units being withdrawn.
US Ambassador to Warsaw Georgette Mosbacher went to even greater extremes. Commenting on the White House plans in the social media, in a fit of patronizing generosity she announced the possibility of moving the US nuclear potential located in Germany to Poland. Given the possible reaction from Russia, such a move is deemed unlikely by serious politicians and experts (American ambassadors to Europe are not among them). Business is a different kettle of fish. Fantasies about nuclear bombs gathering dust in German warehouses have become a strong argument in favor of Poland's signing a purchase contract for 32 new F-35 fighters capable of being their carriers. The contract value amounted to a record (for Poland) 4.6 billion dollars.
Analyzing Warsaw's military attempts driven by the alleged Russian threat, one may note that, unlike countries making money off selling anti-Russian prejudice to their overseas patron, Poland is pretty much the only one (let's not forget about Ukraine) ready to pay extra for an opportunity to yap at Moscow for a while. Polish hawks should not forget that words from the national anthem "What the alien force has taken from us, we shall retrieve with a saber" are obviously not about the centuries-old relations between the Poles and the Russians.