The drills, with over 30,000 personnel from 24 nations participating, are the largest event of its kind since the end of the 20th-century Cold War. Following Kremlin observances that the maneuvers near Russian borders threaten regional security, the US called for a bigger military buildup.US Army Europe Commander Gen. Ben Hodges lamented that the war games were not big enough, saying that all the troops involved in the drills would not fill an average soccer stadium.
Another party that has consistently called for an aggressive military posture against Russia is Poland, according to Lisa Sawyer Samp, an analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), speaking with Defense News. Warsaw pushed for NATO flags to be flown in exercises held on Polish soil, despite that the alliance did not “have a consensus” on the issue.
The recent CSIS report revealed that NATO members cannot agree on a line that separates “credible deterrence” from “escalatory provocation,” resulting in a “micromanagement of decisions,” with regard to Russia.
A group within NATO, consisting largely of Western European nations headed by Germany, opposes any military buildup against Russia. According to former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, Berlin has consistently struggled to downplay the importance of the war games.
“There were those voices in the alliance that were worried about that signature being too big,” Breedlove revealed to Defense News. “The political leadership of the alliance chose to keep them separate, so as not to be too bellicose.”
Voices calling to downgrade tensions between NATO and Russia have more often been heard, recently.
At the July NATO summit, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French President Francois Hollande and former German Air Force and armed forces chief of staff Gen. Harald Kujat, called for the restoration of relations with Russia, the executive editor of Intelligence Review, Jeff Steinberg, told Sputnik.
“Kujat told German media that Russia should be viewed as a friend and even an ally. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, he said, should have been invited to Warsaw,” Steinberg said.According to Sarah Wagenknecht of Germany’s Left Party, NATO should be replaced with a new collective security system that includes Russia.
“Russia should become a member of this new structure. In addition, the focus should be placed on the peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and discussions, something that runs counter to the policy on Russia pursued by Western countries in recent years,” she told Sputnik.