US General wants Russia to invite observes to military exercise

The US Army’s top European commander, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, probed Russia on 1 March to open its major military exercise this autumn to onlookers, in a bid to assuage its neighbours.

Russia has divulged plans to stage its Zapad 2017 exercise near its western borders, withholding how many troops will partake. Currently, 330,000 Russian troops are stationed along its western borders. Concerns have been raised by neighbouring Lithuania, calling on NATO for supplementary security measures. The Cold War-era treaty, the Vienna Document, outlines rules for large-scale exercises and military activity, emboldening security and stability through transparency.

The Baltic States have felt susceptible since Russia’s Crimea annexation and its involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict. In NATO’s tender to daunt Russia from further interference in Eastern Europe, former US President Barack Obama initially ordered an armoured brigade and an aviation task force to be dispatched to the region. Conversely, Moscow has voiced unease by new anti-missile shields in Poland and Romania, the ongoing buildup, and regional countries’ revamping defence efforts.

About author: Elisabeth Gheorghe

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