(Washington Post) VILNIUS, Lithuania — The vast Russian military exercises that ended this week showed off a muscular fighting force practicing state-on-state warfare, NATO’s deputy military commander said, in one of the first assessments of a large-scale operation that put Russia’s neighbors on nervous alert.
The Zapad exercise, which rehearsed a conflict along Russia’s western borders, showed off a force that was marshaling itself “probably more quickly, more efficiently, with this underlying message that if you thought we were in decay, we’re not,” NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, British Gen. James Everard, said in an interview. […]
Despite the Western worries, the training may not have been flawless.
“What had been expected but did not happen was the demonstration of readiness of the newly formed divisions, which adds credibility to the proposition … that they are rather far from being combat-capable,” said Pavel Baev, who studies the Russian military at the Peace Research Institute Oslo.
Other embarrassing incidents included a Tu-22M long-range bomber overshooting a runway and a misfiring rocket from a Ka-52 attack helicopter that hit spectators.
The “Russian Air Force is feeling the pressure of the protracted deployment in Syria,” Baev said. “Typically, maintenance is the weakest link, and accidents multiply,” he said. […]
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