Reproduced in its entirety from today’s TASS. Key points, and there are several, are in bold print.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US, NATO scaling up activity in Ukraine and Georgia
NATO is gradually scaling up activity in the post-Soviet space, with its active stage of the Three Swords 2021 military exercises underway in Ukraine’s Lvov Region with the participation of Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian and US forces. On Monday, the Agile Spirit 2021 drills are starting in Georgia, which will involve about 2,500 troops from 15 NATO states and partners (Ukraine and Azerbaijan), Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports. Like before, these drills are of an anti-Russian nature, the newspaper pointed out, with provocative statements aimed at Moscow heard from some NATO officials.
“As far as I know, Poland will purchase America’s Abrams tanks for protection against the “Russian threat” to the tune of $6 bln. About 1,000 tanks can be purchased with this money. That is, an entire army (four divisions) of American tanks will appear near the borders of Russia and Belarus. Tanks are mainly an offensive means. This means that Warsaw has aggressive plans regarding its eastern neighbors,” military expert Nikolai Shulgin told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. He noted that according to Western media, works on deploying the Aegis Ashore systems to the tune of over $180 mln had begun in Poland’s Reznikowo. “This will be the second US missile base in Europe after the Deveselu base in Romania was established in 2015.” Russia thinks that Tomahawk cruise missiles can be launched from the Aegis ground launch systems located in Poland and Romania, which can destroy targets deep in the country. This is a factor of concern as well, the expert said. “Warsaw is clearly provoking Moscow to respond. At the same time, not only are the Poles trying to strengthen their defense, they are helping their allies in the post-Soviet space,” Shulgin stressed.
Polish troops are set to take part in a joint airborne operation during the Agile Spirit 2021 drills together with their US, English and Georgian colleagues at one of the bases in Georgia.
Russia cannot ignore such challenges, the newspaper points out, adding that the Russian military on the border with Georgia and at Russian bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are on standby, taking part in maneuvers and drills. The joint strategic drills of the Union State (Russia and Belarus) “Zapad-2021” can be considered a response to NATO as well. Media reports say that Russian troops and equipment are already being deployed to Belarus within the framework of the upcoming exercises planned for September.