NATO launches massive war games in Poland
The 10-day Anaconda manoeuvres are intended to shore up regional security in the face of the West’s standoff with an increasingly assertive Russia. But the Kremlin reacted angrily. “The exercises... do not contribute to an atmosphere of trust and security,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“Unfortunately we are still witnessing a deficit in mutual trust.” The exercises come a month ahead of a NATO summit in Warsaw set to seal its largest revamp since the Cold War by deploying more troop rotations to eastern European members spooked by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Moscow fiercely opposes the NATO moves, billed by the US-led alliance as part of its “deterrence and dialogue” strategy. Anaconda, the latest in a string of NATO manoeuvres in the region, involves 31,000 soldiers from 24 states, including 14,000 from the US, 12,000 Poles and 1,000 from Britain, as well from former Soviet “Partnership for Peace” states like Ukraine. Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said on Monday that NATO was “checking the alliance’s ability to defend its eastern flank”.
The exercises are NATO’S biggest since the Trident drills last year involving 36,000 troops in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
NATO has nevertheless sought to reassure Moscow, with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg insisting last week: “the Cold War is history and we want it to stay that way.”
Russia has long protested at NATO’s expansion in its Soviet-era backyard and in 1997 NATO formally agreed not to install permanent bases in former Warsaw Pact states.