No Illusions in the Sky and Land, as Always

According to the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania on 25-31 May NATO air police fighter jets five times took off in the Baltic States to follow the Russian military aircrafts that were flying over the …

According to the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania on 25-31 May NATO air police fighter jets five times took off in the Baltic States to follow the Russian military aircrafts that were flying over the Baltic Sea. The same week jets of the Alliance members – Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey had to intercept two Russian strategic bombers Tu-22 and a couple fighter jets Su-27 when they were approaching air space of these countries in the western part of the sea. As Krasimir Karakachanov, Minister of National Defence of Bulgaria indicated, since aggression against Ukraine in 2014 Russians constantly ‘examine‘ allies of the Alliance – whether NATO aircrafts are taken off expediently and whether radars can ‘detect‘ the approaching military aircrafts of Russia. Last year aircrafts of the Alliance had to take off and follow or intercept Russian aircrafts 290 times in all Europe.
Before this, let’s say, routine news on 21 May, Donald Trump, President of the United States, announced that his country after half a year will withdraw from so-called Open Skies Treaty signed in 1992 that came into effect after a decade, which enabled missions of 35 states, including NATO members and Russia, inspect military facilities from air in territories of each other. According to D. Trump, his country decided so, because Russia was breaching the Treaty. Arguments of the US President were appended on 22 May by a statement of NATO press release that encouraged Moscow to cancel restrictions on the inspection flights in Kaliningrad region and close to the border with Georgia. Then Americans will not withdraw from the Treaty. In the comments that followed the press release, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, indicated that Russia has been restricting inspection flights for years already or is applying selective fulfilment of their obligations and thus it has not been fulfilling conditions of the Open Skies Treaty.   
On the same day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland referred to inspection restrictions applied by Moscow. The statement of the Ministry also indicated that the USA warned Warsaw in advance regarding its probable withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty and that at the time being Poland and the closest allies (we should understand, Lithuania) are taking measures for ensuring security in the region of East and Central Europe.
In turn, Ten European States announced that they would adhere to the Treaty, despite the decision of the President D. Trump, because they thought it was obviously useful for ensuring security and a significant warrant of trust in allies of NATO. A declaration proving this was signed by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Italy, Luxemburg, Czechia and Sweden. Meanwhile a concern of Washington was approved regarding fulfilment of selective obligation of the Open Skies Treaty by Moscow.
This is another diplomatic and polite ‘formalization’ of a security issue.   
Kristina Zelinkova, author of ‘Political Consequences of the War in Ukraine’, is not very diplomatic when talking about the declaration to the Council of Europe announced based on the visits in Ukraine. Talking about ability of Russia to fulfil its obligations, she says directly that the Kremlin will use the situation in the east of Ukraine as much as it is useful to it. ‘Argument” of Eastern Ukraine is meant for destabilization of the situation both in this country and in Europe – this is the main goal of Moscow. The ruling class of Russia particularly likes using this algorithm in majority of the post-Soviet area.
Permanent mission of Ukraine to the United Nations (UN) had to react to an ordinary ‘examination’ of the Russian permanent mission on 28 May when its representative Gennady Kuzmin on the website of the Russian Embassy announced about the necessity to lift sanctions of the West that encumber the global negotiated ceasefire, the necessity of which was announced by Antónius Guterres, UN Secretary General in March under the conditions of COVID-19 pandemic. Oleg Nikolenko, a counsellor of the Ukrainian permanent mission to the UN on his  profile indicated that previously Russia used to state that as if sanctions encumbered provision of humanitarian aid in fighting COVID-19 pandemic, which did not help Moscow to get rid of sanctions. Now the narrative is supplemented with the need to implement global disarmament. The diplomat called that a blackmail, explaining why the use of force in his country, Syria, Lebanon and other places, where Russia is acting on one side of the conflict, still continues. It is well known that even in case of lifting sanctions the fire would have not been stopped. Russians are always capable to find an excuse to continue aggressive politics.    
The Commission of the Latvian Seimas probably acted very verily on matters of defence, internal politics and fight against corruption when on 26 May it approved amendments to the law regulating military response in case of aggression approved by the Ministry of National Defence. The usual forms of reaction were amended with new ones designated for cases of the response to the unmanned aircrafts and cyber attacks (against the most important information systems of the country and military infrastructure) and also when armed soldiers start forcing into the country without any insignia, so-called ‘green trolls’ – its copyright belongs to Russia, which tried it when was tearing apart Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.        
In this context, even departure of 500 American soldiers’ battalion from Lithuania in June, which spent nine months here, confirm that this is a tactical decision. On 13 May United States European Command announced that American soldiers in June, first time from the beginning of pandemic, will participate in training in Europe. ‘Allied Spirit’ in our neighbouring country Poland will become a mini version of training ‘Defender Europe-2020’ planned before the pandemic, that had to become the biggest in Europe after the end of Cold War, for which the USA was planning to      deploy 20 thousand soldiers to the Old Continent and where inter alia a rehearsal of deploying American soldiers from the air to the Baltic States and Georgia was planned.    
When pandemic started, the Pentagon stopped transfer of military units to Europe; however 6 thousand soldiers arrived to the Old Continent (same as 90 percent of the military technology that was planned to be transferred to Europe). They together with two thousand Polish soldiers will take part in the training ‘Allied Spirit’ in the north-west of Poland on 5-19 June. The decision was made not only pragmatic (if the soldiers already arrived to the place of training), but let’s say because of arguments of geopolitical situation when/if Russians do not even think to reduce pressure. By the way, at the end of May two Russian fighter planes ‘in their own way’, that is, boldly, were following the American reconnaissance aircraft over Europe for some time.
Will or is it probable that Russia will finally start concentrating on itself and stop provoking the West? This guest ion is rather naive, let’s say because of the news of the recent months from this country. V. Putin’s statement that the advanced basic science enabled Russia to develop types of weapons that is not owned by anybody else. A source from a military-industrial complex of Russia informed the news agency RIA Novosti that the first launch of nuclear-powered unmanned torpedo Poseidon was planned in autumn, which is capable to reach the enemies and destroy them, for instance, groups of aircraft carriers or infrastructure of the coastal defence. Another two sources also informed the news agency  that Russia is producing a test sample of the strategic bomber aircraft with stealth technology avoiding detection of radars (Eng. Stealth means secretive, undetectable; we should understand, according to an equivalent of the American bomber ‘B-2 Spirit’).    
These and other news is nothing else but news from a new arms race and just signals about the intension of Moscow to stand up to any centres of power when there are no chances to compete – foe instance, in social appeal of the country. According to one global calculation method, the global Gross domestic product (GDP) is reaching 86 trillion of US dollars. A portion of America in its structure reaches 20 trillion, the second is China with 13 trillion and the third is Japan with 5 trillion US dollars. According to the available data, GDP of Russia in 2019 was 1.5 trillion US dollars (11 position in the world). This is the whole arthmetic about the state, which by all means is trying to resist a free democratic world if not by aggression, then by manipulations or both at the same time. Sabre-rattling in the available and hypothetic weapons or even a war, if necessary.     
Summarizing and with no illusions – a didactic picture ‘from life’. In a widely promoted campaign of the aid of Moscow to Italy suffering from Coronavirus pandemic, Russians delegated 15 large military jets with 32 doctors (the same number of them with no particular advertising was delegated by, e.g. Albania, by an ordinary flight). The 15 severe patients that were treated by Russian military medics during one month of work, of course, will be grateful to them all their lives. However, when at the beginning in May a temporary military hospital in Bergamo became almost empty and local government reservedly mentioned that it was time for Russian delegation to vacate it its representatives started horsing about: ‘Why? We have an excellent cultural programme for celebration of 9 May, the Day of Victory!’. Italians had to patiently explain that quarantine was inconsistent with mass gathering events. Russian soldiers had to leave without performing “Katusha’…  
Arūnas Spraunius

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