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MOSCOW, August 20. /TASS/. The largest exercise of NATO’s airborne troops since the end of the Cold War has produced a resounding effect in Russia, with military analysts and politicians differing in their assessments of the event.
While some believe it makes manifest NATO’s desire to go to war against Russia or size it up as an element of supporting Kiev’s plans in the period of heightening tensions in Donbas, others warn against overestimating the significance of the war games that involve 4,800 military from eleven countries.
"This exercise is just one item in a chain of military events under the US and NATO auspices this year, as war games in Ukraine are yet to be held," the internet publication Vzglyad quoted Gen Leonid Ivashov, a former Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff.
"The whole range of events and exercises aimed at a buildup of military capability testifies to the ongoing preparations for something more serious on the part of NATO and especially the US, which is seeking to provoke Russia," Gen Ivashov said. "What we see now is the showcasing of strength and a battle of nerves."
NATO war games look like a covering operation to divert attention from the use of force by the Kiev government in the southeast of Ukraine, said senator Konstantin Kosachov, who chairs the foreign policy committee in the upper house of Russian parliament. "There can’t be a more erroneous moment (for holding the exercise - TASS) out of a multitude of erroneous options," he wrote on Facebook."
"We’re evidencing a new surge of tensions in Donbas," Kosachov said. "The sensation that Kiev has braced itself up for a yet another attempt to settle its problems in the east through the application of military power is getting increasingly strong."
"I don’t see any immediate military threat to Russia in these war games because it’s a scheduled event by and large although it’s definitely linked to the conflict in Ukraine," TASS was told by the military analyst Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva (The Arsenal of the Fatherland) magazine.
"A decision to enhance combat readiness of rapid deployment forces was taken after Crimea’s reunification (with Russia - TASS) and the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine," he said.
"NATO built up its grouping in the Baltic area and now it’s boosting the institute of exercises, the frequency of which has gone up 50% to 100%," Murakhovsky said.
"This is a token of a dragged-out hysterical reaction to the events in Ukraine that’s going on for about a year and a half by now," TASS heard from Alexander Khramchikhin, a deputy director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis.
"That’s an element of psychological support for the countries of Eastern Europe that feel apprehensive of NATO’s potential inability to defend them against Russia," he indicated.
Sergei Mikhailov, a senior research fellow at the Russian Institute for Strategic Research said in a TASS poll of experts that NATO has several reasons for holding these maneuvers.
"First of all, by nodding at Russia it has found a business for itself to engage in and a justification for its existence as it’s citing the so-called Russian threat," he said.
Besides, the countries located on NATO’s eastern flank - Poland and the Baltics - are pushing larger member-states towards making emphasis on the development of the pact’s military infrastructures precisely on their territories, as this would bring more revenues to local budgets,
Mikhailov warned against overestimation of the current maneuvers.
"Well, suppose they hold the war games now and we’ll reciprocate later on," he said. "It would mean something if they were deploying some strike missile complexes there."
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