NATO

NATO plans bigger exercises

Reuters reports that

NATO plans to sharply increase the size of its exercises in Europe in coming years to ensure allies keep working smoothly together despite winding down combat operations in Afghanistan, senior NATO commanders said on Thursday.

More than 40,000 soldiers may take part in war games planned for Spain and Portugal in 2015, according to U.S. Army Lieutenant-General Frederick Hodges, NATO’s land forces commander.

SKOLKAN – 2

One aspect of the upcoming “Steadfast Jazz” NATO military exercise, to be held  from 2-9 November, that may give pause for thought is that in it parts of Finland, Sweden and Norway are deemed to be enemy territory, an article in Finland’s Hufvudstadsbladet explains. 

According to Svenska Dagbladet

Sweden and Finland have been cut into fictional states that previously belonged to a fictional empire, Skolkan. These former Skolkan countries are independent and economically developed but are also marked by corruption, paranoia and a desire to expand.

Three of the six countries (Torrike in central Sweden, Bothnia in western Finland and the new island Lindsey in the Norwegian Sea) are hostile and threaten NATO.

The fourth country, Framland in eastern Norrland, is NATO-friendly, while the fifth, Arnland in southernmost Sweden is a failed state. The sixth country, Otso, in eastern Finland is a neutral buffer state against Russia.

The NATO countries are the same as in reality, except that northern Norway has been added to with a part of Sweden –  western Lapland. 

Russia and Belarus to the east are not involved in the game but are classified as neutral.

 

SKOLKAN

In a response to Zapad 2013, the Russian/Belarusian Baltic Sea military exercises in which land, sea and air forces took part in a simulated confrontation with NATO  forces, in November NATO will hold its Steadfast Jazz exercise, which is based on the so-called SKOLKAN scenario. This will likewise focus on the Baltic Sea region, and will feature the defence of a NATO member. An article on the NATO website gives some information:

The change in how NATO trains is one of the most significant organisational modifications for the Alliance in the last 25 years. In addition to revisiting the challenges associated with conducting operations in and from the sovereign territory of NATO Nations and how imperative it is to partner with host-nation governments and military forces, SKOLKAN also allows for the integration of emerging challenges such as cyber defence, ballistic missile defence and energy security into a complex training environment.

 

NATO’s plans for defence of E. Europe

Ahead of the annual NATO summit to be held in Lisbon on November 19 , the Polish daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza has published information about NATO’s new plans for the defence of Poland and the Baltic States in the event of a Russian aggression.  Nine divisions, of which four are Polish form part of the plan. In addition to these a  further five divisions will be transported to Eastern Europe with British, American and German units by land and sea links.  Observationsplatsen has more details.

Chechen ghosts – 2

The BBC’s Frank Gardner has once again invoked the “Chechen ghosts” in his latest video dispatch from “Operation Moshtarak”, which contains references to insurgents from Chechnya. Although the video is not on the BBC’s website, it repeats allegations from Gardner’s earlier reports, such as this one from October 2009 (excerpt):

The overall picture is further confused because some Pakistani officials erroneously assume that Islamic fighters from other countries – such as Chechnya – are from Uzbekistan.

 

While it’s perfectly possible that some of the foreign fighters in the region are Chechen, it would be good to see some proof or demonstration of this by the BBC – otherwise, the reports merely look either Kremlin-influenced or Kremlin-supporting.

Chechen ghosts

OSCE satisfied with Ukraine election

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has declared itself satisfied with the presidential run-off vote in Ukraine, and has urged Yulia Tymoshenko to concede defeat, which so far she has refused to do, Reuters reports.

Update: political analysts in Ukraine and Russia are speculating that Tymoshenko will “bargain” to retain her post as prime minister in a new government.