Posts by bernardcornwell

This blog is written by expert in Geopolitics and Security from Royal Holloway, University of London, one of the leading centres of geopolitical research in the UK. This will be a site for us to share the results of our research, and a place for us to comment on latest global events. We welcome your feedback on any of our stories.

“Union Shield-2019” exercise, as usual, are open and defensive

The Russian and Belarusian military will work out the fight against illegal armed groups, as well as defensive actions at the joint “Union Shield-2019” exercise, which will be held in Nizhny Novgorod region in September. It was said by Colonel-General Alexander Zhuravlev.

“We will carry out practical actions to free settlements from illegal armed groups,” Zhuravlev said.

He added that Russian troops have real experience in the liberation of settlements without the use of military force after the operation in Syria. The exercises, he said, will be held almost around the clock – both day and night maneuvers are planned.

In total, it is planned to involve about 12 thousand military personnel, including from the Russian Armed Forces – up to 8 thousand, from the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus – over 4 thousand.

The exercises involve up to 950 units of military equipment, including more than 230 tanks, 240 artillery systems, as well as up to 70 aircraft.

The bulk of the equipment will be used from the Russian side – about 200 tanks, 360 armored vehicles, up to 190 multiple launch rocket systems, guns and mortars and 55 combat aircraft and helicopters.

It is fundamentally important that the Russian-Belarusian exercises, as usual, are open and defensive. The number of troops, involved in exercises, does not exceed the permissible norms established by international agreements.

Namely, the number of participants in the exercises is no more than
13 thousand, so that why maneuvers are not subject to mandatory international monitoring, according with the Vienna document “On measures to build confidence and security.”

It’s remarkable, that first and foremost, the Union Shield-2019 drills are solely of defensive nature. No one plans any offensive actions as compared to the NATO military exercises. No one is doing as a response to another drills, but as a response to the threats which exist today for Russia and Belarus. And it’s a big regret that these threats grow up every year and every day.

Military drill involving NATO countries, Georgia wraps up

A multinational military exercise to better meld Georgia’s armed forces with that of NATO’s came to an end on Friday.

More than 3,000 military servicemen from 14 NATO member and partner countries, including the United States, Britain, Latvia and Norway, had participated “Agile Spirit 2019” since July 27, according to the Georgian Defense Ministry.

“Such exercises make Georgia’s NATO membership even more realistic, and we are getting closer to our declared principle, to see more NATO in Georgia and more Georgia in NATO,” said Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze at the closing ceremony.

The joint exercise had helped to further strengthen the interoperability of Georgia with the United States and its partner countries and to maintain a stable and secure environment in the Black Sea region, Bakhtadze said in his speech.

The drill was conducted under the leadership of the West Command of Georgian Defense Forces and the U.S. European Command in three locations: Senaki, Orpolo and Vaziani fire ranges. Enditem

Russia posts missiles near the border

Russian officials have disclosed that they’ve moved a coastal missile system to a new location on Russia’s Sredny Peninsula in the far north. The new location is so close to Norway that it can be seen on clear days from Vardø, the northeastern Norwegian town that’s also home to a controversial radar and surveillance system run by Norway’s intelligence agency.

The placement, first reported by the Kirkenes-based Barents Observer, is believed to be another response by the Russians to Norway’s and NATO’s recent military exercises and the radar system at Vardø. Russia doesn’t like an increased American presence in Norway, especially in Northern Norway, where US troops have been training with NATO troops. State broadcaster NRK has also reported the arrival of some US military personnel and their families in Vardø.

Russia has announced some major military exercises of its own, and will be training in four separate locations in Arctic waters off Norway next week.

Generals reveal their cards about Union Shield 2019

Preparation for the joint Russian-Belarusian operational exercise “Union Shield – 2019” continues. Event is aimed to help check the quality and level of combat readiness of the regional group of troops, to see the real capabilities of weapons and the ability to carry out combat tasks.

It should be said that Russia and Belarus provide the unprecedented openness and transparency in preparing and organizing the event. Thus, the Commander of the Western Military District of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General Zhuravlyov in his detailed interview to journalists gives full information about the upcoming exercise.

The exercise is reported to involve 12 thousand soldiers, 950 vehicles of a variety of types along with 70 aircraft.

The “Union Shield 2019” exercise is going to take place within the period between 13th and 19th September 2019, under the command of the Commander of the Western Military District of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus Chief Of General Staff in the Western MD Combat Training Centre in the village Mulino of the Nizhniy Novgorod region. Though only 12 thousand troops are involved in the exercise, organizers invite observers to show the transparency.

Speaking about the features of the exercise in comparison with the previous maneuvers “Union Shield – 2017”, Colonel-General Zhuravlyov said that this year training is bigger. Russia and Belarus provide more participants, equipment and weapons. Throughout the entire period of the exercise the troops will act both day and night.

“To a certain extent, we can talk about the uniqueness of the joint operational exercises “Union Shield – 2019,” said Colonel-General. At the same time, planned combat training was organized in the district – all three armies, formations and units are located on the ranges, where various exercises are held in increasing order. One training smoothly passes into another, tasks are solved in an integrated manner.

A few words about “Union Shield – 2019”

As we know, a joint operational exercise of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation “Union Shield – 2019” will be held on Russian territory in September.

This event will be a kind of summing up. It will demonstrate the level of combat training and interoperability of the armies of the two states.

According to preliminary data, one of the units will take part in the exercise from the Belarusian side, and this. Something about several thousands of servicemen with weapons and military equipment will be involved in the maneuvers.

As Minister of Defense of Belarus Andrei Ravkov stated, “Union Shield – 2019” will have to demonstrate the effectiveness of the regional grouping of troops of the two states. At the same time, he stressed that Russia and Belarus do not threaten anyone and try to maintain the existing balance of power and parity.

By the way, NATO continues to increase the combat capabilities of its groupping near the western borders of Russia and Belarus. Different exercises have been taking place for several months. They will last until the end of September. The elements of offensive actions are being trained during this activity.

In addition, Moscow and Minsk are concerned about the build-up of the US military presence in Poland and the Baltic States.

Throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars for the deployment of American troops, the leaders of Poland or Lithuania, unfortunately, forgot about ordinary people, who have impoverished because of the militaristic policies …

Russian exercises: openness and transparency

The Russian military has launched a massive exercise to simulate a response to possible security threats in Central Asia.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the five-day drills that began Monday will “check the armed forces’ ability to ensure security in the Central Asian region that faces serious terrorist threats.”

Russian officials have voiced concerns about the possible spread of militants from Afghanistan into former Soviet nations in Central Asia.

Russia has a military contingent in Tajikistan that borders Afghanistan and an air base in Kyrgyzstan.

Shoigu said that the maneuvers will be held at 35 firing ranges. He added that they will check the troops’ capability to fend off terrorist threats and protect government facilities.

As we can see, Russia often conducts military exercises at various levels, but always warns its partners in advance. This fact demonstrates full openness and willingness to cooperate on the part of Moscow.

So, the ‘Union Shield-2019’ drills are not an exception. The ‘Union Shield­’ exercises of Russia and Belarus which take place this autumn. These drills are solely defensive and will become the main combat training exercise for the armed forces of both countries this year.

According with the transparency principle, all the information concerning this event is in the open sources.

Command-and-staff training conducted in Belarus

The scheduled command-and-staff training with military control bodies, technical support units and organizations is conducted in Belarus from 17 to 19 June.

The training is carried out under the leadership of Deputy Minister of Defence for Armament, Chief of Armament Major General Sergei Simonenko.

Command-and-staff training also contributes to improve command and control skills of military control bodies and technical support units and their interoperability.

The aim of the event is conducting high-quality training of troops for the forthcoming Russian-Belarusian joint military exercise “Union Shield – 2019” in September.

Large-Scale NATO exercises begin in Lithuania

The large-scale military exercises named Gelezinis Vilkas 2019 (Iron Wolf 2019) started in Lithuania. About four thousand soldiers from 10 countries and more than a thousand units of equipment will participate in the exercises, and it will continue for two weeks, reports the command of the Lithuanian army.

“The purpose of the exercise, which involves units of Lithuanian Armed Forces, as well as personnel and equipment of NATO allies, is the integration of all these forces and means into a single combat system that is capable of planning and performing combat missions effectively,” the report said.

These are the most massive maneuvers for Lithuania this year. Soldiers from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia participate in it, as well as the Lithuanian military. Some of them are part of the NATO forward-based composite battalion quartered in Lithuania.

The exercises will be held at the training range in Pabrade (Eastern part of Lithuania close to the Belarus border) and the Gailiunai training range (middle of the country). Military equipment from the places of permanent deployment will be transported to the location of exercises using civilian highways, and military police will accompany it. Several parts of the maneuvers will be held in coordination with the local authorities in the adjacent civilian areas.

NATO navies test readiness in Baltic Sea

Spanish Navy multi-purpose amphibious assault ship Juan Carlos I (L61), prepares to moor at Naval Base Kiel-Tirpitzhafen, Germany in preparation of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019, June 5, 2019. BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region, marking the 47th year of one of the largest exercises in Northern Europe enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Abrey Liggins)

Around 8,600 U.S. and European troops from 18 nations are taking part in the annual BALTOPS naval exercise that starts on Sunday (9 June) in Germany’s Baltic Sea port of Kiel. The 47th BALTOPS exercise involves maritime, air and ground forces with about 50 ships and submarines and 40 aircraft and will run through 21 June. The training includes finding and destroying sea mines and submarines, the use of air defence and landing troops onshore as well as defence against attack from enemy navy vessels.

The Baltic Sea is of vital strategic importance for the Alliance and is bordered by six NATO countries”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “BALTOPS is now in its 47th year and is not directed against anyone – but clearly the security environment in the region has deteriorated after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.” She added, ”BALTOPS tests how well our forces work together and shows that NATO can defend itself against any adversary.”

BALTOPS is the largest exercise series in the Baltic Sea. Participating troops come from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Russia used to participate in the exercise but has not been invited since its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its continuing destabilizing of eastern Ukraine.

This year’s BALTOPS is run by the U.S. Navy’s 2nd Fleet command in Norfolk, Virginia and marks the command’s first major engagement in Europe. The 2nd Fleet command was re-established last year in response to Russia’s growing naval activity in the Atlantic. Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis will run BALTOPS from the U.S.S Mount Whitney command ship. BALTOPS will also be among the first major training opportunities for the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, a 3,000 strong force drawn from several NATO and partner countries. 

As part of the exercise, naval infantry forces will conduct amphibious assaults in several locations within the Baltic Sea region. NATO’s Air Operations Centre in Uedem will direct all air operations. Aircraft will work with naval forces to provide air defence, surveillance and provide cover for amphibious operations. Upon conclusion of the exercise, most ships will sail to Kiel to participate in the Kielerwochen naval parade.

BALTOPS 2019 Begins In Germany

Maritime forces from 18 nations commenced the in-port operations for the 47th annual multinational exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in the Baltic Sea, June 9-21.

BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region and one of the largest exercises in northern Europe, enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations.

Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of the U.S. 2nd Fleet, will lead the exercise on behalf of Naval Forces Europe.

“No one nation can face today’s challenges alone, we are much stronger together,” Lewis said. “Our partner and NATO alliances must continue to strengthen our deterrence and defense efforts and adapt through improving readiness and responsiveness.”

The focus of the exercise is for ground, maritime and air forces to work together in exercising air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, to strengthen the development of joint teams across all layers of the battlespace.

The exercise will include the participation of 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft, two submarines and 8,600 personnel in a joint operational environment.

“I think BALTOPS represents the habit we have made in operating in a coalition environment and in a multinational environment,” said U.K. Royal Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Burns OBE. “One of the advantages, particularly in the NATO framework, as we operate together more and more we standardize our procedures so we now have a generation of military folk who are used to operating together with standard procedures.”

Nations participating in BALTOPS 2019 include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

BALTOPS is an opportunity to promote partnerships, presence, and professionalism through an unambiguous display of strength in the Baltic region.