Back in World War II, the Soviet Union invaded Eastern Europe to take down the Nazi regime after they invaded Russia several years prior. After the fall of the Third Reich, the Soviets held Eastern Europe and ruled with an iron fist until the early 1990s.
If you thought that was the last time Russia would consider invading Europe, prepare yourself for a reality check.
A new report reveals that Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, conducted a practice of a full-scale invasion of Europe back in September 2017. Included in the practice invasion is capture of the Baltic states, bombing of Germany, and even invading neutral countries.
The Sun reports that the practice drills encompassed military operations with troops, artillery, tanks, missile attacks, and navy and air force raids.
Details of the Vladimir Putin’s so-called “Zapad” (West) exercises were revealed by analysts from two leading intelligence agencies, Bild reported. They did not specify the methods used to collect the intel.
At the time, Putin claimed the exercises were for anti-terror purposes and were purely defensive in nature.
However, the paper reported that the drills were a dry-run for a “shock campaign” against Western European NATO countries.
This included first overrunning the Sulwalki Gap – a 60 mile stretch of NATO land that connects the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad with its ally Belarus.
The Russian military reportedly practiced the invasion by creating a “mock state” on a piece of land in Belarus, a Russian ally, then invading it. In addition to that, the analysts stated that the Kremlin practiced “neutralising or taking under control air fields and harbours (in eastern Europe), so there are no reinforcements arriving from other NATO states there.”
These nations would not be made satellite states of Russia again necessarily, but the Russian military would occupy the harbors and airports, and that would effectively give Russia control over these nations in the event of such an invasion.
The air force conducted a series of mock sorties in the Baltic and North Seas as well, with fighter jets flying over edges of Germany and the Netherlands.
These were designed to be a practice run for destroying high-value targets such as power reactors, airports and other forces, including naval battalions, practised invading neutral Finland, as well as Sweden, Norway and Poland.
The war games exercise is especially concerning for countries like Poland, a NATO country, and Ukraine, as the former has a border with Belarus and the latter a border with Russia.
The Russian government claimed that the exercises were purely defensive, but the manner in which the drills were set up indicates that these are offensive practice rounds. Rather than focusing on their own borders and protecting their own strategic sites of importance, the evidence shows that they are preparing for an offensive assault on their neighboring countries.
General Petr Pavel, head of NATO’s military committe, stated in September that “All together, what we see is a serious preparation for big war. When we only look at the exercise that is presented by Russia there should be no worry.”
“But,” he explained, “when we look it in the big picture, we have to be worried, because Russia was not transparent.”
Given Russia’s increasingly belligerent behavior in the past several years, this revelation should set off alarms across Europe. Russia is once again knocking at the door of Eastern Europe.
How will the EU deal with what appears to be invasion preparation? What should the United States do, if anything?