tv Atlantic Council Forum Examines Impact of ZAPAD 17 Military Exercises on... CSPAN July 21, 2017 4:13pm-5:55pm EDT
must not like x or y because you said this, and i -- it has nothing to do with that and it's what i see as accurate or fair about the media coverage and i have spoken out frequently including washington post coverage. >> watch "after words" sunday night on c-span2's book tv. >> now a discussion on an upcoming russian-led military exercise in and around the baltic sea, slated to begin in mid-september of this year. military and government leaders from estonia, norway and the u.s. discussed the mechanics and broader implications of the exercises both for the nato alliance and russia's broader military ambitions. this was hosted by the atlantic council.
good morning, everyone and welcome to the atlantic council and to this event on implications for nato and the united states. i know it's already getting muggy out there and we're happy to share our ac with you in here. i'm magnus nordegren and i'm the director of transatlantic initiative at the atlantic council and it is so great to see a big crowd for this event and i want to add a special welcome to our guests who have traveled far to be here today. michael mickelson who is with the foreign relations committee and christian prick who is the undersecretary for defense policy at estonia's ministry of defense. as some of you may know we served previously at the embassy in washington and it's great to see him back in town. so i'm just going to say a few
words before -- before we let our experts and leave the representatives loose, and i want to say a couple of things and why they're important in the atlantic council. this is a big summer of exercises in europe. two major nato exercises just wrapped up in northern europe, and baltops and nato completed a big anti-submarine warfare exercises off the coast of iceland and nato will conduct a number of exercises, as well and this is all in response to a russia that continues to be assertive, in and around europe and elsewhere and is clearly bent on altering the european security order in its favor including with military power. >> so the recurring interest is with the transatlantic security committee and it can tell us about russia's intentions and previous capabilities and they've given us clues to
russia's ability to, for example, rapidly mobilizing and moving across the distances and integrating ground, air and sea power. they've given us a window into russian thinking about the issue of key capabilities during the crisis including the use of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. so this exercise is important not only for us here in washington, but also in nato and brussels and for other allied capitals for us all to keep an eye on, and obviously, this session is an important opportunity and provide a bit of a public preview of what could be expected in the coming months as the exercise draws closer and what the long-term implications are for the u.s., nato and all of its members in terms it of the turns and in terms of defense and reinforcements for the european continent moving forward. >> so this panel discussion today forms part of the council's longstanding work on the defense and security in northern europe, but we have focused on a number of key issues including nato's enhanced
forward presence and the maritime domain, cyber and hybrid threats and nato eu cooperation to meet some of these challenges, and under security in northern europe, we have conduct a range of activities including war games. weave left fact-finding delegations to the region and published results oriented, and six weeks ago we hosted a high-profile conference in northern europe which featured all of the baltic defense ministers along with leading american forces such as retired general breed love and sandy birshbrown. >> it's the start of our work and we will return to this with analysis of the outcomes of exercise and we will watch it closely using our capabilities in the research lab which has previously tracked security developments in ukraine and syria and the events surrounding the ms-17 shootdown and using
digital tools to uncover important facts from the ground that are sometimes easy to mix for a policy audience and some of the work related to the support today can be picked up just outside this room. none of this work would have been possible with our close partnership with estonia's minister of defense and thank you so much to you and to the ministry for working so closely with us and making this work possible and bringing some of these perspectives to washington for discussion. so we have a great panel lined up for today with prospectives brought from estonia and norway and the united states in combination with one of the best thinkers about russia and the russian military that can be found in washington, so i'm sure you will find this conversation both fascinating and lively. and we also look forward to bringing all of you into the conversation during the q and a session. >> we are live streaming this event, and if you want to engage with us on social media please use the #podwatch.
to help us open today's discussion, we have mickelson and he also heads estonia's delegation to the parliamentary assembly. he has a long record of public service having first been elected to parliament in 2003, and he also brings the distinguished record on russia and regional affairs and he has served as the director for russia studies and the editor in chief of the baltic region and before becoming the editor in chief, he served for many years at moscow at a crucial time of political developments in russia. they are one of the leading forces on transatlantic unity and the value of american engagement in europe. thank you so much for being here with us today, and the floor is yours. [ applause ]
>> thank you, magnus and your team at the atlantic council for putting together this interesting seminar and it is very timely as we see with the odd dwrens and generates and there are questions and allow me to be in my few remarks as historian going a little bit from the day we're living in today and my understanding in estonia and the current relation between western russia and regarding the exercises. we have to see the bigger picture and it is only a part of it. >> russia is the only country
who has national strategy to confront nato as an enemy and perhaps destroy nato and the united states at least in terms of current security architecture, in your atlantic area built on the leadership of the united states. russia is the only country who constantly exercising and strategically building up its military muscle memory for total war against the best all recent exercises at least since 2009 had elements of anti-west water. of course, this suits perfectly their own historical routes and their only real allies for russia and the navy and perhaps today with nuke as well with cyber, and this all makes sense
in the consolidation of a society. don't forget also that russia has a modern war against a major european country, ukraine. it is the best example and the information that russia has not changed since the breakup of the union. don't forget that the first time russia had the soviet union had the exercises already in 1973 and 81 was the biggest military exercise organized by the ussr that showed a force against nato and poland which had an internal crisis at the time, but what is different from times of 81 and r8 4, and the only element that i've seen change saturday location of front line and we have now the baltic states and
poland as the nations. and going back into the '80 s, i found very interesting paper written by the rear admiral of the u.s. navy. in 1983 he was a student at the monterey school researching the security aspects of the baltic sea. that time he stressed that since the end of world war ii, the ussr when the satellite his a clear advantage over western countries, it created a situation of avoiding nuclear war and the soviet union could avoid strategic victory by attacking the straits. what is most striking, actually is the fact that what gaudio gave to his security environment in the baltic region 34 years ago feels as if it were written
yesterday. he concluded, and i got him here, in the baltic there is a commanding case for looking at a new and prepositioning including both men and equipment. with the current level of technology, modern author proceeds very quickly and allows little time for mobilization. the expeditionary philosophy of reinforcement from, no longer has the utility that was possessed a few years ago. >> the alliance must rid itself of the idea that any defensive or preparatory response to soviet expansion needs in itself proceed as provocation by the kremlin. allied defenses that are perceived to be weak can constitute invitations to aggression. and this was written in 1983 and hardly anything has changed.
only really the geographical proximity we talk about. i would like to conclude that we have seen strong response from nato with russian aggression in 2008 against georgia and specifically from 2014 against ukraine. this has been relatively moderate and third, what is most important, the unity which is played out by the loss of the summits of nato has given quite a strong and clear signal. the nato is for to work for its goal to defend its allies and by
article 5 and not only in the deck la rart and building up deterrence that is important, of course, and then we see these exercises and estonia, itself, of course, on our political debates we are very firmly believing into our own necessity from giving of our side, of course, the best that we can and the 2.2% of gdp allocated to the defense and i tell you, there are no political force in estonia who are obviously against the actual thoughts to work perhaps in terms of increasing the defense budget, if it's really needed, and another area where estonia has a lot of tension is to build up solid early warning procedures
including also investing into our intelligence which allows politicians like me to be very well briefed constantly and that makes, of course, the quality of political decisions much higher. once again, these were a few of my remarks, and i hope to hear a very interesting debate today. thank you. mrausz mrauz [ applause ] >> thank you, marco. my assignment today is to provide some additional context for understanding of what we are -- what we may be seeing this september in 2017 and that sent a following very much and the message you heard from marco
and what you'll be hearing from me is why these things don't exist in a vacuum, that to understand them and there are a lot of other considerations that we need to pay attention to including history. what i thought i would do then is start with a few words of what we know about the exercise itself and then look at some of the immediate precursors to it, and what they may, and what those precursors and some of the earlier exercises may suggest about what we're going to see now, and then say a few words at the end about some of the issues this may raise for the rest of us, and what we should be paying attention to. >> as i'm sure many in the audience no, zapod is a joint strategic exercise and it's planning this time to take place in western russia as well as
belarus. it would be a multi-national exercise encompassing both russian and belarusian forces. it's clearly going to include land forces, aerospace forces and air and air defense, logistic support and probably interior ministry and other troops, as well, at least in some form. it is likely, i think, and for reasons that i'll explain in more detail in a moment to coincide or overlap with some other exercises and training drills which may not be formally identified as part of zapod, but look clearly linked to them. we've seen this before, and i'll come back to this. its overall size is uncertain on detail, but all indications are that this is going to be very, very large and may indeed be the largest one we've seen since the end of the cold war. it has, not surprisingly evoked
a lot of attention and some considerable concern among russia's neighbors and of nato, in general. now why? why should we care about this? why should we pay attention? after all, all serious militaries exercise their troops and they do it regularly. why is this different? it seems to me that there are two basic reasons which are interrelated. one has to do with what exercises in general can tell us about the thinking of military planners and political leaders. what is it that they worry about, what kinds of conflicts do they think are possible and should be planned for, what kinds of messages they want to convey to potential adversaries and others and secondly, what exercises can suggest or remind us about broader trends in the security environment? and in general and russian defense planning in particular?
as i mentioned before, these exercises don't take place in a vacuum and the context matters. and so what i'm going to do then to follow up is simply to say a few words about what we've seen in recent exercise history, say something about the issues that this may raise for the present and then return to zapod 2017 itself and try toing is what it is we should pay particular attention to especially in light of the broader trends we see in russian defense planning and in the broader european security environment. so first a bit of exercise history. as marco said, the soviet union and then russia has been doing zapod or west exercises for a long time. they are regularly planned and announced at four-year intervals and the two most recent ones took place in 2009 and 2013.
the 2013 exercise has some aspects which are very much worth noting, i think, as we look ahead to september. it was, first of all, there is a question of what its purpose was. it was characterized by some russian official statements as an antiterrorist exercise. when you looked at what happened it's pretty hard to believe that that's really all that this was about. clearly, it was exercising and testing mobilization and the deployment including newly formed units of command and control arrangements and the like, and i think we'll see a lot more of it this time. a second characteristic has to do with its size, and 2013 russia was still following the vienna document conventions of
reporting upcoming exercises and they're not doing that anymore, and their declaration was that zapod 2013 was going to be on the order of 20, 22,000 troops. now there were several problems with this exercise and one is that it appears that the only thing they were actually announcing were the ground forces that were involved and, in fact, there were a lot of other troops that were involved either with what looked like either directly or another activity that seemed to be closely linked. naval and air forces and logistics forces and railroad troops and interior ministry and the like. those numbers were considerable. when you add those forces to the 22,000, you'll get about 70,000 in total. in addition, there was a very large interior ministry exercise
at the same time involving 25,000 troops. if you include that then the total comes through to 100,000. so whatever was going on, whatever, you know, whatever -- how are you we characterize it and however much we design was zapod and something else, there were a lot of closely linked activities and exercises of considerable size much larger than russia officially announced. now, again, there is a sort of an obvious point for zapod 2017. it will be very large and it will opinion part of an ongoing and very comprehensive exercise and training cycle which we've seen already. we've seen elements of it this summer with more apparently coming soon. how large, exactly, is not clear.
there will not be an osc notification at this time and the report is one indication that russia is going to be mobilizing several thousand trains to transport the troops. several thousand. if this is true, there are several orders of magnitude larger than anything we've seen before, and it's much larger, for example, than what we saw in 2013. as i say, what we're seeing is more complicated and most ambitious exercise since the cold war. . now what, therefore should we be given in this history and given the broader trends in russian defense planning. marco referred it a lot of it. i think people here know it well. i won't go into it in detail,
but there's been quite a bit of hype about what russian military forces look like. there are still constraints on them in the future, both economic and demographic. having said all that, what is clear is what are general trends are that this is a force which is much more mobile as more competent units which can move faster and quicker than what we've seen before, and in ways under quite plausible scenarios that can produce force ratios at least along the borders and the regions that are quite unfavorable to nato. this is not a question of what russian forces look like against nato in general and scenarios that could cause nato a lot of trouble in the immediate region. there have been a lot of as i mentioned before a lot of western concerns both in the region from nato officials from here in washington. we will hear about those from the panel so i won't go into
great detail, but let me just mention a couple. the most dramatic, but not frequent is that this may be a preparation for some kind of of a direct military action. i understand the reasons for this. this has happened before and there was an exercise in 2007, and 2007 which followed very quickly by interventions in the borders and the same thing happened with the georgia war in 2008 that looks like a link. having said that, i think direct military action personally i think is very unlikely. i don't think russia is looking to start a war with nato, but i do worry about two other things. one, what i think is less implausible is incidents along the border and provocations and poking around and in or around the region and as a result, possibility of accidents.
>> we're going to need to be careful about this and they are, too. even though there's not something dramatic like that, i can't rule out the possibility of trouble associated with this, but even if none of that happens, what then should we care about? i would mention a couple of things that i would pay axe tension to, and one is simply the size and what does this tell us about russian planning and the defense planning and perspectives. another is the scenario. my guess is it will not be entirely candid about what the exercise is meant to do, but we'll need to make some judgments about what it is that they seem to be testing. my guess is it's going to be, as before, mobilization issues, deployment issues and in
particular command and control because there have been structural changes both in the military districts in russia and in some of the units what forces are involved and what roles they seem to play and to what extent they look like they reflect changes in the structure because for some considerable period up to -- certainly up to certainly the early 2000s, russia was moving away from large divisions to smaller, more mobile gri grades and the rationale was that they were concerned about smaller, local wars around their borders. they've started to move back a bit, creating new larger forces of division size. we want to see how they're used and in particular, implications for forced generation. we'll also need to think about
how good our own intelligence is. we need to be thinking hard about -- we'll be looking at this the and western intelligence will be looking at the preparations and one of the things we'll need to assess afterward is what actually did we see? how much of what was done did we see in advance and when did we see it? this would have implications, for example, for warning questions in our own force planning and how much warning can we expect to have if something were to go wrong. a final element which i should, at least note is a nuclear element. previous ones have had some nuclear element in them. often they seem quite divorced from the scenarios of the conventional forces, but in part because we've been hearing a lot of rhetoric from russian officials about the integration of nuclear forces and conventional forces and a lot of talk about the so-called idea of
escalation to de-escalate. we will have to pay attention to that, too. then finally, one final point. in addition to the operational purposes of exercises which are at the core. exercises also send messages. often by design and in many cases russia has been quite clear and explicit about some messages. so one big question for us to think about afterwards is what are the political messages that these are intended to convey? do they simply want to warn us that they're tough and we should leave them alone, and in other words, the political message is essentially defensive, as they claim. do they want to make us nervous and therefore accommodate in ways consistent with some of their other objectives in the region? do they want to make us numb? keep doing this without
following up with anything so that at some point we'll start paying less attention and less concern about the exercises we see very close to nato borders? these are not mutually exclusive. sorting them out is not going to be a simple matter, but it is something to pay attention to and think about one final point again, these issues and whether what we can expect from russia and what they worry about and what the forces may look like is not going to end with zapod 2017, either. there will be one other in addition to further exercises and forced developments. there will be one other thing that will happen at the same time which is the announcement of the next state armaments program and there's discussion about what that should look like and what it will pay and that's supposed to be determined and announced also in september and that, too, will tell us something about their own
priorities and what you can expect in the next ten years. so let me leave it at that and turn it over to the panel. [ applause ] good morning, everyone. thank you to marco and the wonderful introduction, and i am with defense one, and i want to say there's no shortage of russia talk in this town, but it will be an important and interesting conversation to have. so let me quickly introduce our panel. their full bios are in the program so i won't bore you with those and run through the distinguished backgrounds, but to my left we have christian preek, the undersecretary for
estonia. we are lucky to have him in his first public appearance in this role. then we have to his left we have major general finn han stead, and served in various positions in the air force across nato and norway. and then finally to my full left we have evelyn farcas who is a nonfellow here and formerly served as secretary of defense for rush a ukraine and eurasia and i'll give the panel five minutes to run across their introductions and then we'll dive into questions for me and then open it up to the floor. >> thank you. i would like to thank the organizers for a timely event
and also for the people in the audience for your interest in the subject. the turnout is a positive surprise to me, so i'm humbled by being here today on my second day on this job, the first day i spent traveling, so the second day here. i think is a great way to start. anyway, marco, and i was with a question of what i have left to say, but i still try to frame the same issue from my side as the minister of defense and briefly stop on the issue why we think it's important and what kind of attention is needed, after all and thirdly, what
should be our adtud toward this exercise and later, of course, i would be happy to answer any questions you may have. so why is this important at all? just as this has been mentioned, this is the most important exercise, the military political strategic exercise that russia has this year and what's important to note here is the first since the annexation with the ukraine.
and the exercise takes place in extreme proximity in territory and in fact, the exercise activities we expect to surround parts of the territory and we're going to see unprecedented strength and interagency activity on behalf of the and what we were referring to we expect the size of the exercise to be around 100,000 and it may go up from there and what's important to note here is what we see is the whole set of
exercises that are all directed to us and, in fact, zapad in russia seems is the northwest. from spring to late fall and directed to us and thirdly we witnessed before that russia intends to fight and thus, it will give us ample information on their military development and certainly also on their sort of political thinking as it is right now. and last, but not least their readiness will be at an all-time high and they're existing advantage with time and space will be thwarted by that.
we don't expect it to be a cover for an attack or something, but we have to keep in mind that the russians have a nasty habit of sort of hiding the -- hiding the actual military endeavors behind texas. they have done it before, and we have to take it and secondly, what kind of attention is needed? that's for sure that for the military and political experts and the analysts, and this is a golden opportunity to get the kind of information that they
want to the sort of test out their assumptions or see some new things, this is for sure, but we we shouldn't keep the za be just a -- just a matter for the expert community. but -- and for the think tanks and so on and so forth, but it has to get the attention for the higher political military echelons. after all, considering the setup of the exercise, the -- the scenarios that we may see being played out over russian
strategic thinking is not just about readiness. but the exercise is about the testing the transat lan tic community, testing the ability for russia to do its own goals. and all about -- also our ability to keep our posture credible. and thirdly, what should be our sort of reaction, our approach alike. i'd like to stress three words here. we got to be calm, we got to be vigilant, and we have to be flexible. and we do have to do it individually from estonia we certainly intend this to be the case, but we also have to do it in a way as an alliance and as
countries in the region. and particularly, considering the bad habit of bad things happening in august/september time frame, as people mentioned during our premeeting discussions, particularly things go sour somewhere, that's the thing we have to get. and in a wider sense, we have to continue adjusting the alliances deterrent on the eastern flank to reflect the existing complexity and jointness of the challenge that we currently face and we face in the foreseeable future. so these are my first remarks, and i'd be happy to hand it over. >> great. we'll just pass it down. general. >> thank you very much.
and thank you for inviting norway to this event as well. since i'm representing norway, i'll try to put on my nor wee began lenses. to try to understand the messaging, one has to understand what is happening north of norway on a daily basis as well before going into the exercise as well i'll just use a few minutes to say some brief remarks about what the situation is with norway. we've seen in the last couple years is increased activity when it comes to sea power. the activity on sea and sub sea especially is increasing. and a part of the russian docket tran is to go west.
and together with this we know that -- we've also seen russian modernization when it comes to submarines that are more silent than before. we've also seen weapons on board these submarines that have longer range than before. so this combination makes it so much more important today to have -- to keep a situational awareness of what's going on in the north atlantic. and that's why we have to be with other allies to do this. when it comes to air forces, we've seen a reduced activity from the russian side in the north. a few years ago we saw different type of formations, but it has been reduced lately. we have not seen much of the aggressiveness that has been seen in the baltic state. so there's definitely a
difference between the russian behavior in the baltics as compared to north of norway. because of the sanctions and what have you, the interactions between norway's military and the russian military has been reduced to almost nothing but on a daily basis, we are still cooperating slightly on the border guard between russia and norway. we are cooperating on the search and rescue issues and also on the incident at sea. be aware we still have a hot line between the joint headquarter in northern norway between that headquarter and the northern fleets headquarters. we do tests every week. but lately it has not been used
much, but it's there for commanders to speak to commanders just in case we have something coming out and we need to get any misunderstandings out of the way. so when it comes to the exercise itself, we are really interested in seeing how the exercises lead to other exercises in the north. we know that late summer, early fall is an active time where there are a number of other exercises. so how these are linked is going to be interesting. we also know that during fall we see, maybe at this time already, we see an annual deployment from the russian navy going to the east ern -- going further east
and the northeast passage. we understand that most of the exercise activity is going to be on the western -- western border of russia and probably facing towards estonia and latvia and, of course, down to bela rus. and that's interesting for norway, we still have a company as a part in lit wain ya. from the norway perspective, we would like more transparency, of course. so if russia could inform nato through the nato of russian council or maybe start using the vienna document channel to inform about the exercise, that would be something that would be very welcoming from our point of
view. thank you. >> thank you so much, general. we'll now move to evelyn farcus. dive right in. >> thank you to the atlantic council to the estonia government to the participates. care line asked me to speak from the perspective of someone who was in the u.s. government in 2013 when the last zapa occurred. sitting in the pentagon at the time we watched a new defense minister come into office, who is still there and only increased his power and stature in the russian government and society at large. he was a known figure to russians because of his 20-year lead of the internal russian, sort of equivalent of fema if you will. so when he came into office, one of the biggest and most immediate changes we saw was an
up tick in the russian exercise regiment this was not oriented to the predigable zapa cycle, which is one of a piece because there were other regional exercises occurring commensurate also with the reorganization that he put into place -- that had been put into place prior to him, but he put a lot of force behind subsequently. so in addition to those normally scheduled exercise, which as we heard earlier go back to the soviet days he also initiated what he called snap exercises and they were basically inspections but exercises aimed to demonstrate to the russian civilian leadership as well as the military leadership the state of readiness of the russian forces. we watched in 2013 they had four snap exercises and then overtime they've gone up significantly in
2014, there were eight, 20 in 2015 and they went down to 11 in 2016. which i suspect is linked to operatally the russians into syria meant they didn't have to do these regular snap exercises because of readiness, they're at a state of readiness because of oo crane and syria. i think it's fortunate put this in place for all of you, that we saw this new minister of defense and the smaller exercises. and as we heard from bob there were 70,000 to maybe 100 thourk troops with zapa that year the largest nato exercise had about 6,000 forces and it was called steadfast jazz, which is not a
strong and determined name. which at the time we didn't understand that russia regarded nato as an adversary that this was a serious matter. although, of course, within the department of defense, the military intelligence community we were very closely at all of these snap exercises and becoming alarmed because the first thing you learn in the defense business is the threat is the combination of intent and capability. we were seeing capability changing and increasing in terms of its quality and quantity. and the intent was a big question mark for those of us sitting in the pentagon. in our political leadership at the time, not just the united states but in the transatlantic unit, but the intent was we still regarded it as not necessarily a threat, there still was a lot of discussion of that, i think with the crimea invasion, ukraine, the situation was clarified.
although, of course, there are still those that try to muddy the overall strategic landscape and how we should perceive it. the reason we're talking about 2013 and not much before that is because there was a change with putin coming back into power with this new minister of defense. so i think that's an important point to note. going back to my notes here. again this idea that they were exercising against terrorists. you can expect the russians, in 2017, to try not to demonstrate that their opponent is nato because there's still this debate about which russia is our adversary. i think the other thing i would add is that the real degre designati
designation that has occurred, and this is the most alarming and the reason there's so much tension now with 2017 is the russians clearly are in violation of the vienna documents they're barely trying anymore to declare what they're doing. those documents are transparency to try to decrease the risk of miscalculation, decrease tensions when normal militaries are conducting exercises for readiness. it is untenable when russia is the adversary, like it or not we didn't want to be in an adversarial relationship with russia, but we are. the fact they're now ignoring these measures which were put into place with the idea we wouldn't be targeting one another, or we would try not to has ree ycreated a real problem guess i would say so i don't talk too long and we can open it
up to discussion. obviously some of the things bob talked about before, the number of troops, where the troops go, the disposition of the troops. there is concern whether the troops will remain in belarus when the exercise is over. i'm guessing it's shared by their government as a concern also. because they already, in 2014, even before that, were trying to -- you know, they've tried to do what the previous ukrainian government did have a way to communicate with the west and sort of hedge against the kremlin being overly dominant. but i think they've bob mueller become sb increasingly concerned over time, certainly in the last year or so. so we need to watch closely what happens in belarus. i would say we need to watch closely how they exercise -- whether we see any signs of
nuclear, other wmd, the cyber component is very important. and then coming out of the exercise i would like concrete things, i would like to see first of all obviously continuation of our strong deterrent posture, i would like to see it less rotational and more permanent. that may be unrealistic in the near term. certainly we need to know that nato is exercising, nato is ready. on the cyber front i think it's important to think about cyber ops and whether nato can build not just an early warning, and we have the cyber center in estonia, we need an operational capability. it's time to take much more
seriously this cyber threat. we saw cyber security was something that required an article 4 consultation. but i would argue that given the potential ramifications, the potential impact of a cyber operation you could get quickly to article 5 and nato can't be sitting there wringing its hands in the military capability certainly. then we need to think about things less tactical or operational. we mentioned before the transparent si. i think the best thing we can do is broaden the discussion and bring it out of the transatlantic and osc and talk to the chinese and the indians because what the russians are doing has implications for them as well -- excuse my phone i think that was all the twitter feed. the inf treaty, you know, we
have been kind of silent now, our government and nato itself and the urpans in particular, about the russian jofr going violation of the treaty it may be the smarter minds are thinking this has implications for the chinese. it's a mobile capability, can be directed by others so why don't we bring in the chinese, indians that have a stake in transparency, lowering the risk of military kmet ik contest. again i would say again that's probably the most important thing we could do at the higher level. then i would. with the undersecretary, we need to be calm, vigilant and flexible. >> thank you all for your opening remarks. i think we set up a broad
understanding of this. one subject we touched on was obviously the transparency aspect or the lack thereof. i think that is one of the things that i'd like to hear, particularly from you undersecretary, about how the lack of it is impacting preparations and the calculations that the baltics and your country are making and broaden it out how it's immaterial pacting the broader nato alliances and the west preparations for this activity. if you'd like. >> thanks. the transparency is something that we've seen constant backsliding in transparency for the past 10 years, since -- since putin's famous -- or infamous speech in mu nick. the transparency has been a
constant victim. now, with regards to this year's exercise, it's interesting and i would put this into this broader context of tricky relationship between belarus and russia, it's interesting how there are differences in the approach from those two countries. it's supposed to be an exercise that these two countries run together, but the belarus have seen more utility in the transparency. and have been more forthcoming in actually fulfilling some of the arms control arrangement criteria. and this may also reflect their
own concerns over the possible russian agenda. as far as the future is concerned, i think the instinct of estonia is to see whether the existing regiments can be used before getting to something new. whereas different countries may have different interests and different concerns as far as the arms control and transparency is concerned. even outside europe to get to some overarching, overwhelming agreement with countries as far as china, will certainly not be an easy thing.
and so as long as we do have the current existing regimes, we should make -- do our utmost to press on fulfilling the criteria stated there. on our behalf, on nato's behalf, we are more than willing to and intend to follow the different procedures that are in the vienna document in order to make sure that our exercises are, and stay transparent so that -- also the russians and other interested parties can get the sense of what's happening there. i stop with that. >> i think that transparency -- the transparency issue from a military side is basically one
thing. that's, you know, not to create misunderstandings. misunderstandings is -- have prereck sit for increased tension and increased tension you'll create episodes and you'll get incidents and things like that. so that's why this transparency thing is so important. you can talk to that on a tactical side as well as on the strategic side. >> what roll do we think the deliberate information is playing then? is it an intentional heightening of tensions? what is the intent behind the lack of transparency? >> if i could just from the political perspective, first of all, these -- we should remember -- obviously this is a military exercise. but there's also political component of this.
first of all, obviously directed towards nato, a message, we're ready, don't try anything. and a very strong message. there's also a message to the russian domestic population that nato is the adversary, the west is the adversary, we're ready, we're a great nation. the obfew indication is important because as i mentioned we still have a lot of questions about russian's significance, whether russia is indeed in an adversarial posture with us. whether they're a declining power and therefore this doesn't matter. these questions are still out there being discussed unfortunately in the political arenas. so russia will take advantage. they always like this kind of ambiguity anyway because they want us to know that they're capable and powerful and look what they did with their cyber
intrusion in the u.s. election. they don't really want to take full accountability because they want those who it's convenient to align with them or at least not oppose them to be able to do so. >> building off that, kind of the level of concerns and relation to russia and the exercise, you said you don't view it as a direct threat. but there's also -- that's kind of always an underlying concern in the back of people's minds. i was speaking with loout wain ya's defense secretary last month and he said there's some media in the west provinces talking about how they were gifted by stalin long ago.
we've seen this rhetoric before. so if the direct military intervention is not the primary concern, it's still in the back of our minds, what are some of the other concerns beyond the accidental intrusions? how likely do we think an intrusion or engagement that doesn't quite rise to a level of an article 5 violation? that's for the whole broad panel. >> if i may start with that. firstly, the example that you pointed out, exactly the reason why we strongly feel that the zapa and the -- paying attention to zapa is something that not only the military thinkering should do. because one way or another, we expect to see -- we expect to
see it being in the noose as a -- partly also as a deliberate attempt by the russians. it's -- considering the examples of previous exercises, it's i guess, to say that will be full range of tools in their sort of national possession being used from information to cyber to nuclear, et cetera. meaning that we should not be passive in this game, too. now, what to be afraid of? bob brought out the elements
that i personally would be concerned about is the incidents of accidental nature but with serious consequences. as well as some possible locations. and this is where it's fair to say that whoever attempts those exercises should show sort of professional -- professionalism, particularly in the light of the near misses or close to accidents that we've seen on the baltic sea or across -- over the baltic sea in the airspace. we definitely don't want to be in a situation where something goes terribly wrong in that kind
of situation. >> well, i think my comments would echo much of that. when it comes to incidents, i think that what i would be concerned about is the congested airspace, sea space, et cetera, in the baltic region. that's where i see most activity going on. if something is going to happen, that's where it most likely will be. we might see incidents, hopefully we'll not see that. but besides from that, i'm going to say that i'm kind of looking forward to after the exercise when we are able to analyze this whole of government approach and to the jointness and how this is all linked together and the element of quality control of the exercise. that's going to be very interesting to analyze and come
back to the atlantic council. >> i would agree. i think seeing how they mobilize, will they go further. certainly in the last zapa they were only in the beginning of thinking about this complete mobilization, and i think seeing how much further they may have come since then. plus there are a lot of internal security forces that have been created by president putin to protect him, but also with new internal reorganizations occurring of existing forces. so i think it'll be interesting to see what role they play. is there going to be some kind of color revolution scenario. the little green men, again some kind of fomented or
antiterrorist, i'm choosing my words carefully, some sort of fa bri fabricated clash. so there are a lot of little things we will learn from this in as much as they will increase their readiness, we will hopefully also increase our readiness. >> that's a great point to raise, what we're hoping to learn from this. obviously looking at the number of the smaller operational aspects, commanding control and various aspects that you raised evelyn. what do we think it might tell us differently than 2013? i think 2013 raised a possibility in a lot of people's minds and all of a sudden the world sat up and started paying attention probably a year later. what are we going to be looking for this year, beyond those tactical level things?
>> that's going to be interesting. let's see, i think what we will be looking for is obviously the -- this level of control again. you know, how centralized how decentralized or the lack of decentralization, as well as the mo mobilization. and one big part is going to be the mobility part. how quickly are they able to move around. so what was mentioned in the beginning here by the railroad part -- utilized because it will tell us something about the mobility aspect. and again, i'll have to come
back to the jointness again. you know, how are we linking the different services and capabilities together and how is that controlled. that's going to be interesting. and then, i guess on the overall -- if you're going to take it out in the political landscape, again, we have a new situation in ueurope. there's small differences going three, four years back the transatlantic situation and relationship is slightly different. and europe is changing slightly as well. and then you have syria and ukraine and all these things together create a different landscape which in this exercise is going to happen. and that's a whole new discussion. it's part of this discussion as well. that's going to really be interesting. >> if i can add quickly to that. that's what i will be looking at is not just the exercise itself
but what's happening in the other theatres where russia is fighting, ukraine, syria, are they making any other moves. of course, they use the exercise not just to the mask what they're doing there, but elsewhere. so are they deploying new forces and capabilities elsewhere while our attention is diverted. >> just to add to that. two key terms. versus how offensive andly offe will be. and how interagency the exercise will be. there are some tactical aspects to both of these, but certainly also strategic meaning as how think thing will be played out,
how the other elements, the defense ministry -- the defense forces capabilities will be used and also to the offensive nature of the issue, how sort of overtly antiwest, antinato the scenario and the execution of the scenario will be. that's something that's very important. >> so in just a moment we'll open this up to audience questions. so please start thinking. get those ideas germinating. before we do, you raised the point this is all -- zapa is one broader port in the russia west, russia world engagement. so how do we, going forward, recalibra recalibrate, if at all, the engagement with the posture that nato and the u.s. and the allies
have in the region? what are we looking for? how do we -- do we -- what are we looking for from the enhanced forward presence groups? what are we looking to build up? what capabilities are we looking to increase in the region and how are we looking to structure and posture those forces? >> as far as the posture in general goes, i think it's fair to say that even by now that we have -- that we are just one year from is summit. we can say that the creation of the efp concept, the enhanced forward presence concept, and deployment of epf battalions to the baltic region has achieved new elements of stability there. and that is a testament to the
understanding in our view that when it comes to the current russia, at least, we have to be very clear and strong in our sort of messaging. now, as far as the current caps are srned, it's the jointness. the concept is very -- or the execution of efp concept thus far is very land sen trick, at the same time one of the key terms we are talking about in this context they see russia a 2 ad capability in the region, which is the matter of keeping the lines of communication open and making sure that the
capabilities that currently exist in the region, that they get proper addressed. so we need to -- we need to go ahead by looking into the defense, also the issue that we have with the naval capabilities just to make sure that again we are determined but also take into account the realistic realistic situations we have in the region. >> just to build on that. i think we're on the right track with efp as well as what is the u.s. is doing bi laterally. don't forget, european nations
can do better as well. one example is what norway did, a trilateral with the uk, we're all buying the p 8s. so to take responsibility for run certain region in and around nato, also there's always an extra mile to go when it comes to intelligence sharing and cooperation within nato and we're not where we're supposed to be, but that's something we should continue working on. >> if you have anything? >> i agree with everything they said. so i don't think i need to add. >> then we'll open up the floor to questions from the audience. a quick reminder that -- to please introduce yourself, your name and organization, and to make it a question. in the back there.
>> my name is andrew i'm a reporter with politico. i was wondering if you could comment on the larger strategic picture the exercise will have the effect it it will have on ukraine. does it affect it at all having up to 100,000 troops in a neighboring country. and it was alluded to earlier that perhaps other troop movements could be masked or done concurrently with the exercise. is there any anticipation with anything like that happening in eastern ukraine? >> i go first just by saying that i would not like to speculate on something as serious and sensitive as that. we should know that the ukrainians have long paid attention to the looming 2017 sa
training and have taken in their own risk assessment. but i cannot speak for them. as far as we go, we have to take into account, as i mentioned before, that sometimes the exercises have been a convenient way to do something else. but i don't have any solid information on -- to let me speculate on that right now. >> i'm not, you know, ready to talk specifically about ukraine but i'll refer to the earlier comments that we should pay attention to linked activities and parallel exercises. that goes also with the ukraine. >> i mentioned already that i will be watching ukraine.
the speaker ukraine's parliament made some kmens expressing his alarm. of course, they are on high alert. we should, nato, speak with the ukrainian's and make sure we are as vigilant as we can be. i would say at least in this arena, my government has been very good in as much as secretary tillerson sunday was in ukraine and gave a very strong statement of support for ukrainian sovereignty, so as much as we have questions about our policy via russia, i'm encouraged the united states made that statement lately and we can do more in the coming months. >> the second row. >> my name is i did dme tri, you
talked about transparency and accidents. i'm curious what the state of dialogue is between russian leaders and european and nato leaders? how do you communicate between the two of you? thank you. >> i think that might be a great one -- >> sure. thank you. yes, i would like to see more dialogue between russian leaders and european leaders. however in lieu of the sanctions we're seeing right now, that's not possible. i think there is a few -- there's a few communication lines where we can see an increased activity. and that would be, first of all, within the nato russia council to get that slowly up and running again. and that would be a first step where we could talk to each
other as well as get the transparency issue on the table. and then, of course, osse and other ways are, of course, welcoming as well, but on the military side, i would say that the nato russian council would be the preferred way to communicate. >> i believe there is a nato russia council meeting scheduled for july, if i'm not misrepresenting. i there was talk of that, i saw it in the media. i think what's also important is that we open a bilateral u.s. discussion. it's not going to be a negotiation i don't think at the offset but a discussion, russian military, u.s. military to talk russian strategic issues. the inf treaty violations, the missile defense, et cetera. so we can at least reduce the temperature in that area, perhaps open the line somewhere
down the line for arms control and getting these issues back into a more controlled box if you will. i do see a need for a dialogue with russia, i don't see a likelihood of any kind of new sweeping agreements. we need to have dialogue and maintain some of the cooperation we have u.s. russia in the nuclear realm. >> i just said that most of the necessary instruments are there. they differ from the -- or the -- the nato russian council to oec and the arrangements there. it's just a matter of willingness to actually use them. the russian diplomat is something that has a long tradition and some interesting
tricks. they are, in many cases, very good in sort of -- as we sometimes say turning over the chess table and telling okay, let's come up with something new. some new instrument, some new forum and while doing that you can wrap all kinds of new issues into the core problem. so i don't think we should sort of fall into that in this trap but rather use the existing instruments and -- within the nato russian council there has been some discussion and questions to them to actually come up with more transparency and more information on this exercise. so far not too much progress. >> we'll go to the other side. >> hi my name is peter reese i'm
an intern with the house on foreign affairs committee. i want to ask a personal question, this is a topic i'm fascinated with. given the developments of countries that have tried to join nato since 2008, my question is, is there a red line in which nato would -- would draw a red line of countries seeking to join it as it would have to invoke article 5 if it truly -- i just wonder if there is a red line in which the risk outweighs the benefits? >> since it's a political question, i'll give it a stab. i mean, i think from the perspective of nato it's very clear if you want to apply for membership, then you must be a democracy, you must have your military organized under
civilian control, you must apply, you must go through a process. and then, from the perspective of nato, whether nato accepts the country depends on how well they meet the me triks that have been set out and over time military working with the countries. so it's not generally an automatic process, although there are kuns like sweden and finland, if they decided to become members i believe they're ready and nato would be, at least on the military side, ready to accept them, and i imagine politically as well. so i don't know there's any red line that you can apply or not. generally speaking countries not in europe, of course, don't apply. >> i would just add that if we were to draw that kind of red line, then i'd say that -- as you say, it's a personal
question so i'm trying to pretend it is a personal answer also and not a political question. in that kcase, we would betray our values and probably also be hostage of this sort of red line kind of thinking. but on the other hand, certainly just like evelyn said, it's the matter for the alliance members to decide whether -- whether any changes in the membership add benefit to the security of the alliance territory. >> if i could add one more thing because i think some of the assumption underlying your personal question has to do with the debate of the nato expansion and i believe very strongly that when we decided to expand nato
in the 1990s, we did not -- i know nato didn't regard the united states certainly in supporting that didn't regard russia as an adversary. it was done in order to increase security and stability in europe so you could have political and economic development in europe. so those countries that have made already a certain amount of progress were in a sense rewarded for that. if they were interested in joining nato, they were accepted and in exchange they received continued support for what they had already gun in terms of their democratic, economic and military modernization. so i would say that continues to be the case today. even if you took away the threat posed by russia because they decided to be our adversary, you would still have an argument for expanding nato in order to increase stability and increase nations that are ready and able to defend one another collectively against
unconventional threats and against state actors. >> i'm susan miller i'm formerly with the u.s. justice department. and a question for the general. what do you see as the gaps in intelligence on the side and scope of russian's nuclear capability in the region and then also directed potentially at the west? >> well, i think i will -- i'm not in a position to answer that. so i'm sorry but -- because my comment when i commented on the intelligence sharing mechanism in nato, my point is that should be broadened and deepened so more intelligence is being shared between nato nations and in that way more intelligence is
being available for all of nato nations. where it comes to the lapse and gaps, i'm not able to comment on that. [ inaudible question ] >> i'd not like to, but i'd like to comment on the nuclear issue, but possibly not the angle that you are hoping for. instead of intelligence, i would stress the part of sort of understanding the way the nuclear issue is treated in the russian room, the russian operations concept. i think this is where we have some catching up to on do sometimes. it's for -- for alliance
members, 20 -- 26 years after the soviet union came down and so on, so forth, it's difficult to understand the way the russians see the nuclear capability as something that can be used for de-escalating the conflict and in their sort of military, political thinking, the nuclears can, at all stages of conflict, be used to sort of out deter. that is always this red button available that can be used in order to deter the other side if this is sort of necessary. and the sort of nuclear -- nuclear is much more integrated
into their military thinking and into their use of military capabilities than it's -- it's considered necessary or possible in the west. so to -- in order to understand that, we need to more study that and also take this into account in our own exercising in our own planning and so forth. >> and this is another area we need to have dialogue with the russians. because this military doctrine to de-escalate, but in my mind it's escalation, it's not just my mind, is dangerous. and it rests upon a misconception i think of how the united states and the allies in nato in particular would respond if the russian military
escalates, certainly including nuclear weapons but even with cyber and other conventional means. so i think that's an area that there's a need for dialogue and there's a heightened interest in gaining intelligence on what the russians were thinking. >> do we expect this fall to tell us anything about that and how the russians do it? >> military expert? >> it remains to be seen but the recent experience tells us that all of the strategic russian exercises have had the nuclear component in it during the last -- last ten years or so. or even more. and so, my expectation is that we're going to see the nuclear component in the exercise.
>> if i was to exercise my military, i would think i would like to exercise all the components of it. thank you. >> way in the back. blue tie, white shirt, standing up. >> thanks jonathan ward university of oxford. i wanted to ask you about zapa in the shanghai organization. i'm wondering if the sco matters in these days in your view as you focus on the european theatre particular lir as it expands to other nations. >> so i mentioned earlier that i would like the conversation about these military exercises and about the need for transparency about military exercises generally to be international liezed and be brought out of the transatlantic
context so other countries and members of the sco can help us put pressure on the russians to come back in alignment with their agreements and commitments. when it comes to sco, i'm not sure what we can do because sco itself, the united states is not a member, i don't believe any nato members are members. so we -- and it's very much -- the agenda is very much controlled by the kremlin, by beijing. so i think we can engage with those countries. i'm not sure whether it makes sense to engage through that organization. >> maybe just one component or one interesting bit of information concerning china that -- it's not in the frame -- in the framework, but as i said,
there is a whole range of different exercises going on during the season. and first we're going to see the russian navy exercising together with chinese navy, first time ever on the baltic sea, this summer. so the chinese will bring three of their most modern ships to the baltic to train with the russian navy. >> yes. >> i'm the guy who introduced the event. so sweden and finland have come up during the conversation and again obviously not members, but nato partners and they also live in the region, so to speak, and are close russia watchers themselves. can you say something about or
give us a bit of a sense of how you're working with sweden and finland in terms of comparing notes or sharing thoughts and perspective about zapad. and also activity in the broader region. >> sure. of course, we have a good connection with finland, sweden, about all kinds of issues. and there's a -- there's a tight nordic connection when it comes to looking at things we can do on the military side when it comes to acquisition to exercises and other things where we can work together as well as sharing notes. when it comes to, you know, sharing notes, sure that's being done. however, there are a few, you
know, limitations on what we can share and what we cannot share since we're talking about, you know, partner nations and not allies within nato. but i would say everything is there to be able to cooperate and talk about whatever is on the table and that is being -- that's being done. >> we have time probably for one or two more. the woman in the white shirt, i think. black shirt. sorry i can't see you. yes, the woman raising her land on the left side. >> what chance is there -- what chance is there that the kremlin will decide to leave behind a number of troops to belarus to deter the regime from doing what it had been doing in the west.