NATO will closely monitor the Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2021 exercises. Alliance instruments are probably already located on the eastern flank – said Sławomir Dębski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs on Wednesday on TVN24. He pointed out that a border incident may occur accidentally, without the ill will of either party. – These are always very dramatic situations, immediately triggering a political crisis of potentially enormous scope. Better safe than sorry, he argued.
In Belarus, they started on Thursday communications troops maneuverswhich will last until September 2. According to the Ministry of Defense, this is one of the stages of preparations for the Zapad-2021 strategic maneuvers between Russia and Belarus.
Potential conflict scenarios
As Sławomir Dębski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, said on TVN24, Zapad is the most frequently organized exercise “based on a scenario of a border incident, which then turns into a large-scale conflict, regional or limited nuclear conflict”. Another scenario under consideration is – as the expert explained – a situation in which “an armed national minority arises in western Belarus, which then, as a result of NATO intervention, turns into an armed conflict”.
– We must assume that a similar scenario – that is, a wargame assuming that there is a border incident, which then develops into a large-scale conflict – will also be used this time. The whole problem is that in order to carry out this type of exercise, basically all types of armed forces that are at the disposal of Russia and Belarus are used, both aviation, artillery, parachute units, but also subunits of Russian and Belarusian special services, which train it. kind of scenarios – noted Dębski.
In his opinion, “this context requires Poland, as a flanking state of the Alliance, to limit the risk of a scenario that has been repeatedly tested and practiced in the past, and around which Russian-Belarusian cooperation in the military field has been developed”.
How to prevent conflict?
When asked to what extent the scenarios he described were realistic, he referred to the conflict theory. – In order to prevent an accidental conflict or an accidental incident that could suddenly turn into a major international crisis, we must strive to prevent such situations, he said. First of all, he pointed to transparency and communication between the forces gathered on both sides of the border.
– NATO will closely monitor the ZAPAD-2021 exercises. Alliance instruments are already probably deployed on the eastern flank. The point is that all allies should have exactly the same knowledge of what is happening on the eastern flank as the countries there, he said.
As Dębski pointed out, a border incident may occur accidentally, without the ill will of either party. – These are always very dramatic situations, immediately triggering a political crisis of potentially enormous scope. Better safe than sorry, he argued. As he added, “as long as these massive military movements are on our border, we should all increase our vigilance and be careful not to be provoked and prevent a situation” that could lead to an escalation.
The Zapad-2021 strategic maneuvers will be held on September 10-16 at the training grounds in Belarus and Russia. On July 22, the first train with military personnel from Russia reached Brest near the Polish-Belarusian border. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow announced that approximately 200,000 soldiers and 80 aircraft and helicopters would take part in this year’s maneuvers. 760 units of equipment will be involved, including 290 tanks and 15 ships.
12.8 thousand people are to take part in the Belarusian part of the exercises. military, including 2.5 thousand. Russians. 50 soldiers from Kazakhstan will also participate in them.
In Belarus, the exercises will take place on training grounds in the Brest Oblast in the western part of the country, including near the border with Poland. These are the following training grounds: Obóz-Lesnowski, Domanowski, Brzeski and the Różański airfield.
In Russia, the exercise site will be the Western Military District. It includes the Kaliningrad Oblast bordering Poland, regions bordering Belarus, the center of the European part of the country with Moscow, and the northwest with St. Petersburg.
Main photo source: TATIANA ZENKOVICH / EPA / PAP