In Gazeta, Denis Telmanov covers plans for a U.S. amphibious landing exercise in Estonia on 11 July. According to Tallinn, 500 U.S. Marines will land from the USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41) and conduct a 10-day exercise with an Estonian recce battalion. Estonia’s Defense Minister says this exercise will show that NATO’s serious about defending the Baltic states. He said it won’t have any aggressive character, and therefore won’t harm relations with Moscow. Telmanov raises the issue of whether this exercise prepares a defense against Russia in a Georgian-style scenario.
Then Telmanov turns to Leonid Ivashov to comment and he’s at his vitriolic best. Ivashov calls the exercise hidden aggression against Russia, “When exercises are conducted, a situation is played out, no one just simply conducts exercises. In every instance, the U.S. wants to work out scenarios of military action in these countries, since they see a threat from Russia.”
Ivashov thinks the U.S. has the strategic aim of gaining “maneuver room” in the Baltic. He concludes, “Controlling this territory, it’s possible to organize everything there as it suits–color revolutions, crises. But the Baltic–this is a sore point for Russia, right next to the second capital–St. Petersburg. These exercises need to demonstrate how far these three countries have moved away from Russia.”