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Outside View: Russia trains to fight NATO

The intensity of the Russian armed forces' operations has been growing in recent years and is now a bit closer to that of the Soviet era, when large-scale exercises like Dnepr-67, Okean-70 ("Ocean-70") or Zapad-81 ("West-81") were held on a regular basis.
by Ilya Kramnik
Moscow (UPI) Oct 9, 2008
The Stability-2008 strategic maneuvers of the Russian armed forces are gaining momentum. On Monday, Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear-H and Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers began training flights with full combat payloads and the live firing of cruise missiles at practice targets.

The Stability-2008 strategic exercise, which began Sept. 21 in Russian and Belarusian territory and at sea, is the largest since the Soviet era. Within the next month the armed forces will be practicing a wide variety of tasks, including containing armed conflicts and strategic deterrence. In total, the drill will feature tens of thousands of servicemen, thousands of vehicles, air and naval forces, space troops and strategic nuclear forces.

The exercise is remarkable not only for its scale but also its character. The Russian and Belarusian armed forces practice operations both in simulated local conflict and in full-scale warfare, involving aggressive fighting for air superiority, missile defense, naval warfare and strategic strikes.

The potential adversary is not directly specified, but, judging from the drill's scale and the tasks, it could be fairly stated that it is considering the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its allies.

It is not the first time that "anti-NATO" drills have been held, but with anti-Western rhetoric gradually hardening after the recent five-day war in South Ossetia, Stability-2008 is an open demonstration of preparedness for a new Cold War.

Not only are certain combat missions being practiced, but also new methods of troop command and control are being tested. Reportedly, cutting-edge reconnaissance technology, automatic troop command and control, and real-time data exchange systems are being put through extensive testing.

The logistics services are practicing long-distance cargo delivery and ground troop support for deployed naval and air forces. Also, combat and logistics units are practicing interaction with regional and local authorities, the police and the Federal Security Service.

Such major exercises, comparable with real military operations, must check the state's capability of operating in modern warfare. Notably, the Russian Interior Ministry's forces are practicing team action with military units in the field, using police helicopters for reconnaissance missions in some cases.

The intensity of the Russian armed forces' operations has been growing in recent years and is now a bit closer to that of the Soviet era, when large-scale exercises like Dnepr-67, Okean-70 ("Ocean-70") or Zapad-81 ("West-81") were held on a regular basis.

Large-scale exercises demonstrated the Soviet armed forces' capability of meeting any challenge, and their current resumption is a fairly positive development. Preparedness for a full-scale conflict, which would involve a variety of missions ranging from counterinsurgency operations to elimination of the adversary's strategic nuclear forces, could be tested only by major exercises.

Limited tactical drills alone, although necessary to maintain the armed forces' capabilities, offer no opportunity to the military to practice team play of large units in strategic operations, which makes the army a set of units incapable of operating in high-intensity conflicts. Russia needs no such army today. It's time to prove its Major League status.

(Ilya Kramnik is a military commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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Russian warships to visit Libya: navy
Moscow (AFP) Oct 8, 2008
A group of Russian warships will stop in Libya next week before moving on to joint exercises with Venezuela and an anti-piracy mission off Somalia, a navy spokesman said Wednesday.

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