In the report of the Second Investigation Department given to the Parliament’s National Security and Defence Committee (CNDS) talks about threats to Lithuania from the large-scale Russian and Belarusian armed forces exercise “Zapad” which will take place in September. Member of the Committee Rasa Juknevičienė doubts whether publicly declared number of soldiers will match reality, since usually similar exercises are much bigger. Chief Lithuanian military intelligence said that both military and civilian intelligence forces will participate in the exercises.
Exercise “Zapad” that will take part on September 14-20 is enormous in scale – ranging from the Arctic Kola area and ending in Belarus. Director of Lithuanian military intelligence said that the number of soldiers that was made public is 13 thousand. The exercise will take place between Russian and Belarusian armed forces. This is likely to be the largest exercises held near the Lithuanian borders.
“The cyber element is a part of the Russian armed forces exercise. How wide and deep it will be developed, is difficult to say right now. Could it be a threat? Perhaps there’s always a risk when exercises of this scale exercises are happening near, in the neighbouring countries” says the Head Col. of the Second Investigation Department Remigijus Baltrėnas.
Head of the National Security and Defense Committee Vytautas Bakas says that right after the information about exercise “Zapad” appeared, the public reacted emotionally. But now the quality of Lithuanian security has drastically changed.
“We have the front forces in Latvia and Estonia, and Lithuania, and Poland. This is forces led by Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. We see the attention of our ally’s attention, a sincere and great contribution” said V. Bakas.
R. Juknevičienė, a member of NSGK, is certain that Russia doesn’t declare the real scale of the exercise. According to her, exercises like these are usually much bigger. The last time “Zapad” took place in 2013, which were attended by more than 10 thousand soldiers, which were using heavy military equipment. Then the experts stressed – Moscow trained for the Ukraine attack. This year invasion plans could be simulated.
“These exercises are different from the ones 2009-2013 because NATO is completely ready for them, this is an observation, intelligence. I think that NATO will learn many important things during the exercises and it’s good for us. One more thing, which is important for the Kremlin, is to deter NATO from helping to Ukraine, from helping Georgia, from them integrating into NATO” thinks R. Juknevičienė.
According to the head of military intelligence, the attention of the Lithuanian military and civilian intelligence during the exercises in September will be heightened.