March 23, 2020

A Modest Proposal


A Modest Proposal
"Wargame" just sounds like so much fun. Nancy Wong, Wikimedia Commons

Veteran Russia-watchers know to keep their eyes peeled during military exercises. The hardware, tactics, allies, and locations used in these trials can give foreigners a clue of what the Kremlin has in mind in the case of a conflict. Likewise, Russia eyes NATO training in Eastern Europe warily

Currently, 37,000 NATO troops in Poland are participating in "Defender 2020" exercises, sparking a little tension. It's like a game, or a dance, except with tanks, planes, and nukes.

If Russia has its way, however, the climax of NATO training, scheduled for later this spring, would be postponed. Not because of coronavirus, but to preserve the memory of the dead of World War II.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko has called on European countries to refrain from maneuvers during April and May, during which Russia will be celebrating Victory Day. Grushko appears confident that the timing was intentional, and that the appropriate thing to do would be to reschedule the exercise.

Whether or not NATO agrees (and we're doubtful) remains to be seen.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Victory Day, which commemorates the end of the Great Patriotic War (as the European part of WWII is called in Russia). So be on the lookout for celebrations, parades, and shows of force to mark Russia's primary patriotic holiday.

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