Zapad - should we fret this September?

By 21 September, Russia will have...

  • invaded Ukraine from the north

    Votes: 1 2.1%
  • launched an operation into the Suwałki gap from Belarus

    Votes: 1 2.1%
  • done a Crimea somewhere in the neighbourhood

    Votes: 2 4.3%
  • stayed behind in Belarus whether Minsk likes it or not

    Votes: 8 17.0%
  • calmly carried off the exercise as planned and gone home saying "what's all the fuss about?"

    Votes: 35 74.5%

  • Total voters
    47
  • Poll closed .
#1
Some people are getting terribly worked up about what Russia might decide to do off the back of this year's Zapad exercise. There's a lot of froth and nonsense, especially from the Ukrainians, less so from the Belarusians, but reasonable concern from the neighbourhood.

(If this is news, there's a good collection of stuff here - - CEPA STRATCOM PROGRAM.)

So out of all the wild scenarios that have been thrown out, which strikes you as least unlikely?
 
#2
They will be trying to manipulate Belarus into allowing them to station more troops there. That will upset the NATO apple cart because of the proximity to the Gap.

This at a time when Trump is calling for more forces to go back into Afghanistan.

I expect @Toxicseagull and @Magic_Mushroom are going to be busy in September.
 
#3
I've not seen any large scale civil disobedience/protests etc. in areas where large amounts of Russians live outside Russia other than the ongoing tensions/incidents in Ukraine. Accordingly, I don't think either an overt or covert operation is likely to come from these exercises at the moment. I feel poor old Belarus will end up with a large Russian military presence on its soil whether it wants it or not. Undoubtedly the rhetoric will say they are defensive in nature and the Belarus govt agrees but the reality will be somewhat different.

I've mentioned Zapad 2017 a few times in the relevant thread: The Baltics: should Britain be rushing to their defence?

You could look at the exercise gap: The NATO-Russia Exercise Gap… Then, Now, & 2017

Obviously it's NATO rhetoric to demonise the exercises :rolleyes: The Baltics: should Britain be rushing to their defence?

The Suwalki Gap option has been exercised and the amount of troops needed would indeed be large. Also when will final troop numbers be confirmed by the participating states? The Baltics: should Britain be rushing to their defence?

Soviet Russian occupation stationing of troops in Belarus has been mentioned before: The Baltics: should Britain be rushing to their defence?

Time will tell but the latter two of your options appear to be the most likely imo, at least until Putin is re-elected and he realises the sanctions aren't going away anytime soon. Alternatively, if it looks like he could lose the election, be prepared for numerous outbreaks/disorder etc. in those areas which have large Russian populations outside the country itself.
 
#4
The Suwalki Gap option has been exercised
by us... by them?

and the amount of troops needed would indeed be large.
again, did you mean ours or theirs? (or both?)

Of all the (again, often wild) suggestion for ways they might try something on there, one of the most plausible ones it seemed to me was a low-key assertion of right of access / transit to Kgrad, possibly resembling the "humanitarian convoys" to Ukraine - which would once again reliably get everybody's attention wherever they ended up, while something more important happened elsewhere.
 
#5
The exercises will happen, things will go "bang", the media will exaggerate things to infinity and beyond, the majority of the world will go " meh", the world will keep turning.
 
#6
by us... by them?
By us (NATO), on a very small scale: NATO war game defends Baltic weak spot for first time
"This is only a small-scale drill compared to what would be needed in case of a real attack, but it is important for us because it shows that allies share our worries", said Brigadier General Valdemaras Rupsys, head of Lithuania's land forces.
again, did you mean ours or theirs? (or both?)
Us (NATO). They would need a fairly substantial amount to seize and hold the key areas. We (NATO) would need a large amount to prevent such an incursion.

I've no doubt Russia has exercised the Suwalki Gap option, just not seen anything in open source yet.
Of all the (again, often wild) suggestion for ways they might try something on there, one of the most plausible ones it seemed to me was a low-key assertion of right of access / transit to Kgrad, possibly resembling the "humanitarian convoys" to Ukraine - which would once again reliably get everybody's attention wherever they ended up, while something more important happened elsewhere.
It's an option but we would have seen problems at border crossings etc. before now ramped up into full scale tension/incidents. I've not seen anything to date.

That's not to say that a military option is off the cards. More that a 'justification' hasn't been pushed out by the agitprop machine and lapped up by 'the useful idiots'. I would have expected to see a few incidents by now, reported on and seeds sown for the justification.

I believe NATO is (currently) taking the right response on troop levels and extra precautions. Not enough to warrant full agitprop and maskirovka, but enough to be more than a speed bump. NATO happily keeping an eye on the threat and assuaging members states concerns whilst Russia desperately tries to withdraw (again) from Syria, rattle a few sabres in Libya and N Korea plus get to keep Crimea and have the sanctions lifted.
 
#8
This just in from Michael Kofman: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Zapad 2017

He doesn't have a particularly good reputation among my crowd, but I think he's quite sensible... certainly seems pretty reasonable here.
Thanks. On the face of it nothing new. He raises the point about what happens after Zapad 2017.

The main thing for me is he seems to think the US is far more technically advanced than Russia. In some areas undoubtedly, in others I'm not so sure. He also thinks Kosovo was a resounding success. PORs or AARs don't seem to reflect this bearing in mind what was said to be hit and what was actually hit.
 
#9
Thanks. On the face of it nothing new. He raises the point about what happens after Zapad 2017.

The main thing for me is he seems to think the US is far more technically advanced than Russia. In some areas undoubtedly, in others I'm not so sure. He also thinks Kosovo was a resounding success. PORs or AARs don't seem to reflect this bearing in mind what was said to be hit and what was actually hit.
If they're really smart, the West's technological 'sophistication' and networked capability will be used against us. They still remember WW2 for all the right reasons.
 
#10
True - he's one of those where you have to adjust for perpetual pessimism (from the Russian point of view) about what the Russians are actually capable of. Like Sasha Golts and Pasha Felgengauer, just young enough to be not quite so dogmatically Eeyore-like.

On Kosovo, I think the point was not how much of a neat and tidy success it was in real life, but how it appeared to the Russians - amplified by the political context (showing that our side were also willing to bypass what Russia thought were the rules of the game in order to mount a semi-legal military intervention).

Put all that through the standard Russian filters of paranoia and inferiority complex and no wonder it gave them a huge shock and coloured much of their thinking since. Plus, of course, the repeat performances in Libya and (almost) Syria.
 
#11
Russia rejects allegations it will use war games to launch an invasion
Russia saying Zapad isn't a pretext to invade Lithuania, Poland or Ukraine. They don't appear to mention Estonia or Latvia. Presumably because Belarus doesn't border them. Then again, they did guarantee Ukraine's borders

According to Interfax, Belarus says all trooos and materiel will be withdrawn:
Russia said on Tuesday joint war games with Belarus would be purely defensive in nature and rejected what it said were false allegations it might use the drills as a springboard to launch invasions of Poland, Lithuania or Ukraine.

A total of almost 13,000 Russian and Belarussian servicemen and almost 700 pieces of military hardware will be used in the Zapad 2017 exercises next month, Russian news agencies cited Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin as saying.

Those numbers were in line with international rules, he was cited as saying.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance will closely watch the exercises and has called for them to be held in an open and legal manner.

Belarussian Deputy Defence Minister Oleg Belokonev said on Tuesday that all troops and equipment brought into Belarus for the war games would be withdrawn afterwards, the Interfax news agency reported.
 
#12
#13
Latvia does border Belarus.
Yep, seen. Blame being on the phone and not googling a map.
Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant General Alexander Fomin held briefing on preparation for the Zapad 2017 joint exercise : Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
Thought I'd wait until on a computer before replying. The original statement is as mentioned, it's more to do with the responding, rather than the countries themselves imo. My bold:
Within last several months, largest media agencies and subsequently politicians have been keeping pressure on public opinion amplifying unsubstantiated allegations about ‘Russian threat’. Most fabulous scenarios are assumed. Some of them are saying that a ‘bridgehead for intervention’ and ‘invasion’ of Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine is being planned during the exercise.

Not a single of these paradoxical version has anything in common with reality. This was confirmed by officials of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.
 
#14
According to Interfax, Belarus says all trooos and materiel will be withdrawn:
Belokonev did say that. "At the end, they will all go back to their barracks. And that includes the Russians." And he chuckled.
Full video here (and if I had the time I'd do a compare and contrast between the simultaneous briefings in Moscow and Minsk...)
Начальнік Генштабу беларускага войска паабяцаў: да 30 верасьня расейскія войскі пакінуць Беларусь
 
#15
Russia has always been good at taking 2 steps forward and then retreating 1 and gaining real estate. They were past masters of it in the 'Great Game' of the 19th century. Nothing has changed over the years, Russian emperor, dictator or oligarch all had/have the same mindset.
 
#18
His Twitter makes some claims. Can they be verified?
He's legit, and doesn't post lightly. I've not known him to be off target before.
 
#19

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