Following Russia’s Kavkaz-09 (June 29-July 10) military exercises, the large-scale Ladoga-09 exercises which began in north-west Russia on August 18 will be supplemented on September 8 by Zapad-09, in the course of which Russia will deploy two full-sized armies in Belarus. Milaz.info reports that Russia’s ground forces are now deployed in six military districts: Moscow, Leningrad, North Caucasus, Urals, Siberian, and Far Eastern.
Commenting in Novaya Gazeta’s military pages, Yuri Deryabin, head of Moscow’s Centre for Northern Europe, expresses the opinion that Russia’s government should make its position on North European security unequivocally plain. In addition to applying the economic muscle of the North Stream project, the Kremlin must demonstrate to Europe and the West that it has the military means to enforce its will in Northern Europe, especially in the Baltic, and the ongoing military exercises are an effective way of doing this.
The recent Independentarticle by Norman Davies analyzing the real causes of World War II, which essentially sees the source of the actual conflict as the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23, 1939, ends with a listing of upcoming anniversaries on which the Medvedev/Putin government in Moscow is going to find it hard to maintain silence:
As the Russian government must realise, however, Poland will only be the start of a long, uncomfortable season. After Poland, it will be Finland’s turn, and the 70th anniversary of the Winter War. Stalin’s aggression against Finland in November 1939 was every bit as blatant as his actions against Poland. His German partner was not involved, and the despatch of a million troops into a neighbouring country to deport the entire population of the frontier area can hardly be described as the doings of a neutral well-wisher. It led to the expulsion of the USSR from the League of Nations. And after Finland, there will be Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. At every stage, there will be scenes of peace-loving tanks, of executions and deportations, and of weeping patriots.