It is worth noting that currently the Ukrainian armed forces are preparing for a new major attack on Donbass. Kiev is actively deploying new military equipment on the frontlines on the eve of the Defender Europe 2021 NATO drills that are going to be the largest NATO exercise since the end of the Cold war. The Black Sea region will be one of the main areas of that drills.
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Written by Piero Messina exclusively for SouthFront.
In Europe a strange game of chess is being played with the armies. As NATO prepares for the Defender Europe exercise, Russia and Belarus respond with Zapad 2021.
Let’s see what are the war games that NATO is preparing. It is all ready for Defender Europe 2021,a series of large-scale NATO exercises. The first signs come from Greece where last February 24, the US transport ship Endurance arrived at the port of Alexandropolis, Greece. It is the second time in recent months that this giant of the seas, a ship 264.5 meters long and 32.2 meters wide, has delivered American military vehicles and helicopters to the port of the Greek city.
From there, the vehicles will subsequently be sent to Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary for the first phase of Defender Europe 2021. This first phase will be held from February 24th to March 3rd. The flyovers of the Black Hawk helicopters marked the start of the military program, which will end in August.
What is Defender Europe 2021?
DEFENDER-Europe 21 – says Us Military – is a series of USAREUR-AF led field training, live fire and command post exercises in coordination with U.S. allies and partners here in Europe that demonstrates the capabilities of the total force while promoting stability and security, strengthening partnerships and fostering trust in the region.
For this exercise NATO will mobilize more than 31,000 soldiers, air, naval and land vehicles. According to the leaders of the US military this program is ”an all-domain exercise, it’s going to demonstrate our ability to lift and shift large forces over large swaths of territory,” said USAF Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of EUCOM and NATO Supreme Allied.
Defender Europe exercise will bring together air, land, and sea participants to operate in 12 countries from the Baltics to Africa in late spring and early summer. Last year’s exercise Defender 2020 was originally planned to be one of the largest military training events in Europe since the end of the Cold War, but it had to be dramatically scaled down as COVID-19’s spread shut down much of the world.
For preparing Defender Europe 2021, NATO military forces have also taken action in central Europe. Under the command of the 405th AFSB (the headquarters of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command in Europe, Nato forces are deploying the vehicles and equipment that will be used for the exercise. The exercise was simulated in a meeting in Kaiserlautern (Germany) last February 19th. Other preparatory meetings had taken place in Naples (Italy), at the JFC headquarters.
The main area of the Defender Europe exercise will be the Balkans, Black Sea and the regions close to the Russian border. This was stated by Chris Cavoli, who also explained how the military program will develop: Defender Europe 2021 would take place around the Black Sea, waters that have drawn an increased amount of American naval presence through freedom of navigation operations, and emphasize the use of high-end assistance means in conflict.
Particular attention – Cavoli said – will be paid to Romania, which is developing a Multinational Division for deployment, and Bulgaria, now receiving American advanced air and missile defense systems.
In a second phase of the program, Defender Europe will orient itself towards southern and central Europe. General Cavoli, head of the US Africa and Europe Command, explained that he will also deploy soldiers currently stationed in Africa for the exercise. Cavoli said “to think hemispherically” about security that also coincides with the concerns of Southern European allies from Portugal to the Black Sea, because “NATO is not a one-problem alliance”.
Defender Europe’s philosophy can be explained as follows: to serve as reassurance to allies and a deterrent to Russia. The US general clearly expressed concerns about Chinese investment in critical infrastructure in Europe and both Chinese and Russian investment in Africa to gain economic and political influence.
NATO has communicated the Defender Europe 2021 program to international organizations. That message sparked protests from Serbia. In the notification it was stated, that the defined location for conducting the exercise also includes “the territory of the Republic of Serbia, that is, of its Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, as the territory of the self-proclaimed and unrecognized State of Kosovo”. For the Ambassador of Serbia to the OECD, that declaration is illegal, because a “unilaterally declared independence of so-called Kosovo is absolutely unacceptable while the United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) that guarantees the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia” remains in effect.
Faced with the deployment of NATO forces in Europe, the Kremlin responds with a joint military exercise with Belarus. The Zapad 2021 exercise is scheduled for 10-16 September. Zapad 2021 [West 2021] is based on a possible variant of the escalation of the military and political situation with regard to a simulated state of war. The exercise will take place in the territory of the two countries, which will allow practicing the application of the Belarusian-Russian regional army group and the organization of army operations.
The exercise will take place on the territory of the two countries, promoting enhanced cooperation between Belarusian and Russian forces, as well as practicing combined army group operations.
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