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The current time is: 10/17/2017 10:53:22 AM
 (2000-Pres) Current Day Military talk (No Partisan Politics)    
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kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1884

Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/9/2017 9:14:15 AM
Well, we are almost there - the massive Russian Zapad 2017 exercises, that the Russians claim will include 13,000 men, but in reality covers up to 150,000 soldiers, are about to start. The 13,000 men limit claimed by Russia, is of course not random - it is the limit for when they would have to invite international observers from NATO and allow NATO overflights.

NATO intelligence agencies have expressed some fear that the Russians will use Zapad 2017 to take control of Belarus, simply by leaving most of the heavy equipment and troops they bring in for the exercises, in place afterwards. The Russians have used their last exercises of this size to intervene in neighbouring states (Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ukraine) and there are clear preparations now that would indicate that Belarus could be the target.

In the North, the Russian Northern Fleet has been conducting massive drills the last two weeks with ships and their Arctic motorised brigade, and a week ago started covering all their main bases with smoke and aerosols to try to prevent NATO satellites to see what is going on. Some 50 Russian surface ships are involved in massive drills and live fire exercises, and NATO belives the Rusians will train and test their "bastion defence" strategy, which means denying NATO the use of Northern Norway and the Barents Sea down to the GIUK gap.

Most of the operational Russian submarine fleet has put out to see, leading to a mad scramble on the NATO side to detect and track them in the North Atlantic.
Currently there are several US P8 Poseidon operating round the clock from Keflavik on Iceland and Andoya in Norway, as well as Norwegian P3 Orion flights from Andoya. A German P3 Orion was brought in to support the operations a few days ago and a Canadian CP-140 is flying out of Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Yesterday the US also sent a U2S to overfly the Barents Region.

The Norwegian Air Force has further strengthened their presence the last couple of days with a DA20 Falcon, equipped for electronic warfare, and has two F-16, fully armed,in the air at any given point in time.

The good old days are back!


Photo: Kjetil Stormark

Photo: Kjetil Stormark


---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2749

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/9/2017 9:41:59 AM
Hi kaii,

This build up doesn't sound very encouraging. Is NATO doing anything to try and discourage the Russians? In your opinion is this even feasible at this time?

Stressful times in Europe,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1884

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/9/2017 10:48:57 AM

Quote:
Hi kaii,

This build up doesn't sound very encouraging. Is NATO doing anything to try and discourage the Russians? In your opinion is this even feasible at this time?

Stressful times in Europe,
MD
--Michigan Dave


Well, the Russians are, of course, fully entitled to run military exercises on their own territory, even if they break the Vienna Treaty about allowing observers for any exercise involving more than 13,000 soldiers.

Ultimately all NATO can really do is show that it is ready to respond swiftly to any incursions into NATO territory(i.e.the Baltics or Norway). As of today it is doubtful whether NATO could stop a Russian invasion of the Baltic states with the currently available forces, and, perhaps more scaringly, it is very uncertain whether there is political will to enact Article 5 if the Russians would present a fait-accompli of having occupied Tallinn and Riga for instance.

At the same time, the Russians are nowhere string enough to realistically threaten, for instance, Poland, and it is unlikely they would risk a full scale war with NATO. Belarus, of course is a different matter and, again,there is very little NATO could do except protest and perhaps try to increase sanctions against Russia even more. Even in NATO countries, there is a level of acceptance that both Ukraine and Belarus are in the Russian sphere of influence.

Part of what NATO can do, is show the Russians that they can quickly detect and trace the Russian subs in the Atlantic, hence the massive effort now to detect and track the Russians subs.
K
---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1294

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/9/2017 6:34:14 PM
Kai, I have to assume that there will be zero comments on how well or completely any Russian subs are tracked. No navy is about to chat about their capabilities in that field. But how about those Orions? Long in the tooth, I assume their onboard power remains state-of-the-art. Nevertheless, are they valid monitors in such a situation, or are they only the monitors that NATO will talk about.

You say:
Quote:
At the same time, the Russians are nowhere string enough to realistically threaten, for instance, Poland, and it is unlikely they would risk a full scale war with NATO.
Okay, you have a typo and mean "strong". But surely the point isn't a question of threat. Zapad is a threat, and it's got NATO's knickers in a serious twist. And the NATO show of force means nothing until Russia makes a move deemed terminally aggressive. Hate to say it, but we seem to be dancing to the Russian bear.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1884

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/11/2017 5:45:21 PM
I think you are right that NATO will not confirm any subs they find Brian. And, yes, NATO is pretty much playng catch up and react to Russian actions rather than formulate its own strategy and plans...

On another note, RAF today announced that they will reopen RAF Saxa Vord on the island of Unst in Shetland.This was a radar station that was closed down in 2006 as the Russians stopped flying over the North Sea, but recent events have made it necessary to heavily modernise and reopen the base.


---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3296

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/26/2017 11:42:55 AM
 Zapad 2017 is apparently over. Anyone know if the Russians are pulling the troops out of Belarus ? I've seen one news report that stated such, but of course no details . . . especially as Moscow made a point of not inviting international observers.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1884

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/26/2017 7:22:10 PM
As it looks the Russian troops are slowly moving back into Russian territory, but there have been some cases where delays have been attributed to "rail technical problems". I suppose we will see what the end result is in a month or so.

I spoke to one of the observers yesterday and got an update from the inside, so to speak.

Although it probably seems like zapad 17 was "boring" from western news media point of view, a lot happened during the week, and Western intel agencies gained a good picture of Russian strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest news from Zapad 17, except for the event with the helicopters that fired missiles at the main stand, was that the Chief of the Russian Airmobile forces, Col. Gen. Andrej Serdjukov was seriously injured in a car crash on the Kola peninsula during the manoeuvres. The Russians tried to keep this quiet, and managed for a few days, until relatives of the family in the car that crashed with the General, posted updates online about it. The Russians were forced to admit the accident had happened and that Serdjukov is in a serious condition.

It was also noticed that the planned,and long announced, joint inspection of Zapad 17 by Putin and Lukashenko, was cancelled at the last moment with no official explanation. Western, and some Russian commentators, have seen this as a sign that Lukashenko wanted to distance himself from Putin, and it seems clear that relations between the two countries are not as rosy as they were when Zapad 17 was planned four years ago.

Last monday there was considerable drama when Russia announced that several new tank battalions would cross into Belarus as part of Zapad 17, and the Belarussian foreign ministry immediately announced that they were not expecting any more Russian troops to enter Belarus as part of Zapad 17. People and opposition politicians from Belarus travelled to the border crossings to protest against the Russian incursion, which turned out not to happen. On tuesday the Belarussian foreign ministry stated that the entire thing had been a misunderstanding,but Russian media believes this may have been a Russian test to see how the people in Belarus would react to such news.

A total of 90 international observers were finally invited to observe, and their reports indicate that Zapad 17 was much more of a low budget exercise than the Russians would like to admit to. Live fire was kept to a bare minimum, and far from what had been announced beforehand. Given the heavy rain in the area, there was also a lot of mud (ask the Germans about that...) and observers have noted that the Russian armoured vehicles struggled to keep up mobility in the conditions.
The Russian forces clearly struggled to maintain coordination of forces larger than a battalion in the field, but I suppose that is why they train.

In any case, some interesting back stories are still going on, including the son of a Ukrainian general that was kidnapped by FSB in Belarus just before Zapad 17, and it is still too early to say if the Russians have left some easter eggs in Belarus.

K
---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2749

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/26/2017 10:40:28 PM
Thanks Kai,

For the great report on what could have been a volatile situation in Belarus!

It's great getting inside information, glad your in MHO, Kai!

As far as eggs left by the Russians, Easter is a ways away!

Regards,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3296

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/27/2017 2:15:24 AM
Kai,

 Thank you. That was very informative.

 I was a bit surprised how quiet it was here. I normally hear artillery and tank fire at a nearby training range, but there was none during Zapad 17. I saw two Polish F-16s fly overhead one day; they were low enough to make out some detail on the aircraft.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2749

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/27/2017 10:27:00 PM
Kai,

What do you make of this massive arms depot explosion in the Ukraine??

[Read More]

Thanks, & regards,
Dave
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1884

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/28/2017 11:07:48 AM

Quote:
Kai,

What do you make of this massive arms depot explosion in the Ukraine??

[Read More]

Thanks, & regards,
Dave
--Michigan Dave


Well Dave, it is the fourth one in half a year so there are two options, both with about 50% likelihood

1. sabotage by Russian special forces, or local saboteurs organised by Russia.
We know for a fact that the Russians have cells of saboteurs operating in Ukraine, testing out various techniques and targets, for instance electricity supplies and military installations.

2. Ukrainian Health and Safety policies are lax, and it is entirely possible these events are due to someone smoking in the wrong place, dropping ammunition/mines. hand grenades etc where they shouldn't etc.

My bet is on the first one, but the second one cannot be ruled out in any way.

K

---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3296

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/30/2017 1:46:52 PM

Quote:
MELITOPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) - Russia has left troops behind after staging war games in Belarus despite promising not to, Ukraine's Commander in Chief Viktor Muzhenko told Reuters.

In an interview on a military plane on Thursday evening, Muzhenko said Russia has withdrawn only a few units from Belarus and had lied about how many of its soldiers were there in the first place.

His comments could increase tension between the two neighbors and contradict the Belarussian defense ministry spokesman, who said the last train of Russian troops and equipment had left Belarus on Thursday. Russia's defense ministry did not respond to an immediate request for comment.
[Read More]

 Hmm. If Muzhenko is correct, the real question is how many and what kind ?

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1884

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 9/30/2017 4:26:54 PM

Quote:

Quote:
MELITOPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) - Russia has left troops behind after staging war games in Belarus despite promising not to, Ukraine's Commander in Chief Viktor Muzhenko told Reuters.

In an interview on a military plane on Thursday evening, Muzhenko said Russia has withdrawn only a few units from Belarus and had lied about how many of its soldiers were there in the first place.

His comments could increase tension between the two neighbors and contradict the Belarussian defense ministry spokesman, who said the last train of Russian troops and equipment had left Belarus on Thursday. Russia's defense ministry did not respond to an immediate request for comment.
[Read More]

 Hmm. If Muzhenko is correct, the real question is how many and what kind ?

Cheers

BW
--BWilson


There is definitely still air force and air defence units left in Belarus, as it looks from first counts there is also roughly one motorised infantry battalion missing from the returned troops, but I suppose we will get a more detailed picture in the next days. There also appears to be a number of Russian "advisors" still liked to the HQ's of several Belarussian units, including two tank companies.

Might be nothing, or might be just the maskirovka that was expected.
---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3296

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 10/1/2017 2:22:41 AM
 I wonder if Belarus' leader will be up for Zapad 2021. Thank you for the comment, Kai.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1884

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 10/1/2017 1:22:24 PM
The interesting thing is that this coincides with what appears to be quite a substantial Russian withdrawal from eastern Ukraine. In the last couple of weeks, it looks like the Russians have withdrawn pretty much all EW assets, most of their artillery radar systems,anti air systems and UAV systems.

There is some speculation that this is in preparation for the proposed UN troops to move in - the Russians would not want them to find a lot of Russian regular army equipment in Donbass- but could also simply be out of necessity. Most of the equipment deployed to Donbass has had only field maintenance performed on it for a year at least, and is due a major overhaul back at base. With the deployment to Syria of similar equipment from the same military district there might simply be a shortage of available equipment.
---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3296

Re: Zapad 2017 and the Barents Sea
Posted on: 10/6/2017 3:31:33 AM
[Read More]

 Longish article, but looks at Russian claims regarding the exercise's size and compares them to the forces involved, as well as looking at the absurdity of the exercise's premises.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Society's righteous paranoia lows profoundly. -- random wisdom of a computer

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