E-service believes Russian exercise could be much bigger than announced

Russian navyRussian navy ships and helicopters take a part in a landing operation during military drills at the Black Sea coast, Crimea. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

Norwegian intelligence estimates that the large scale Russian military exercise that will take place in September may be ten times greater than Russia has given notice to NATO.

 

‘Russia said they’re going to utilise approximately 13,000 men. We have reason to believe that the exercise will be much bigger, and more complex, than this.

Our estimate is that between 70,000, and 150,000 soldiers, could be involved in total’, said intelligence manager, Morten Haga Lunde to VG newspaper.

The member countries of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including Russia, have agreed to notify each other in advance of all exercises involving more than 9,000 soldiers.

If in excess of 13,000 soldiers are involved, the other countries would, under the agreement, be allowed to send observers.

Russia’s message was that this exercise, called Zapad 2017, was below these levels. NATO expressed their concern to the E-service in June.

‘From experience, we have every reason to believe that the number of soldiers involved will be significantly higher than the official number given,’ said Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.

The exercise begins on September the 14th, and is planned to continue for six days. According to Lunde, the exercise begana long time ago.

‘Russia has conducted emergency exercises with their Northern Fleet, and the vessels have been in the sea off the Murmansk fjord, and out in the Barents Sea,’ he said.

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today

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