Lukashenko Exploits Putinĺs Weakness
Published: October 2, 2013 (Issue # 1780)
Aádream has come true foráRussians who thought that their country was incapable ofáprotecting its citizens andásending aircraft carriers toátheir defense. No sooner had Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko detained visiting Russian businessman Vladislav Baumgertner than Moscow sent special forces andáthousands ofátroops toáthat country. Unfortunately foráBaumgertner, those soldiers had not come toáfree him but toátake part ináWest 2013, theáyearĺs largest military exercises. Andáthe scenario ofáthese maneuvers is shockingly ôrealistic.ö
Ináthese games, Belarussian border guards detect aábattalion ofá600 commandos attempting toácross theáborder, andáalthough theáguards put up stiff resistance, theácommandos ultimately break through intoáBelarussian territory. After that, theábattalion takes aáserious hit fromáa detachment ofáold but battle-ready military aircraft that drop 250 kilogram bombs onátheir convoy fromáan altitude ofá200 meters. Despite theábattering, theátenacious column ofáinvaders moves forward. They are subsequently attacked ináturn byáa battery ofámechanized guns andámotorized infantry reinforced byáspecial forces. As silly as it sounds, theácommandos bounce back after each onslaught, finally making their way toáa town where they take hostages. Only atáthat point are they finally wiped out byáanti-terrorist units.
All this is reminiscent ofáthe movie ôThe Terminatorö ináwhich theáôbad guyö keeps coming back toálife every time he is killed. Atáfirst glance, theáwhole idea ofáa battalion that will not die no matter how often it is attacked seems rather ludicrous. But if you put yourself ináthe shoes ofáthe people who planned these war games, you would realize that it would have been impossible toáuse theáclassic scenario ináwhich theáôblueö forces attack ôredö troops who repel theáoffensive and, predictably, end up winning. Ináthat case, theáBaltic states andáPoland would say that Moscow andáMinsk were preparing anáinvasion. Atáthe same time, theágames must give Russian andáBelarussian leaders aáchance toáshow off their tanks, armored vehicles, dive bombers andáhelicopters, letting them rain missiles down onáthe enemy. Foráthat, it was necessary toácome up with aáridiculous scenario ináwhich Russia andáBelarus use everything short ofánuclear weapons toástop just 600 terrorists. Ináaddition toáthe West 2013 maneuvers, planners created theáCooperation 2013 games involving theáspecial forces ofáall Collective Security Treaty Organization member states. Ináthose maneuvers, Kazakh troops fight extremists ináBelarus. I leave it toáthe reader toádecide how realistic that scenario is.
Apparently, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu realized how artificial such maneuvers look given their lack ofáconnection toáany actual threats. It was therefore no coincidence that he told journalists that ôwith each passing year, theávarious scenarios andáepisodes developed will be less spectacular due toáthe use ofámodern weapons, theáincreasingly distant targets onásea andáland andáaccordingly, theámanifold increase ináthe territory over which exercises are carried out.ö Ináother words, Shoigu has found aáplausible pretext forásaying he would like toálimit theáuse ofámilitary maneuvers as aámeans ofágovernment public relations.
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