The real Russian threat The re­cent Russian mil­i­tary ex­er­cise is the largest re­hearsal of WWIII in the 21st cen­tury

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Peter Vin­cent Pry

The real threat from Rus­sia is not to elec­tions, but to our lives. Russian De­fense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu de­scribes their re­cent mas­sive mil­i­tary ex­er­cise VOSTOK-18 as in­volv­ing 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks and other ve­hi­cles, 1,000 air­craft, 80 ships, and joint mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions with China. VOSTOK-18 is the largest re­hearsal of World War III in the 21st cen­tury, as big as ZAPAD-81, the then-USSR’s big­gest mil­i­tary ex­er­cise sim­u­lat­ing in­va­sion of NATO dur­ing the height of the Cold War, nearly 40 years ago.

Yet Democrats and the lib­eral me­dia, hys­ter­i­cal over pre­pos­ter­ous al­le­ga­tions Rus­sia “hack­ing the elec­tions” poses an ex­is­ten­tial threat to our con­sti­tu­tional re­pub­lic, hyp­o­crit­i­cally op­pose Pres­i­dent Trump’s mod­ern­iza­tion of U.S. nu­clear and con­ven­tional forces to de­ter Rus­sia’s war ma­chine — the real threat.

Dan­ger­ously, many pro­fes­sional an­a­lysts also un­der­es­ti­mate the Russian mil­i­tary threat, in­deed seem re­flex­ively to un­der­es­ti­mate all mil­i­tary threats, feed­ing a lib­eral press that would rather “see no evil” ex­cept in Mr. Trump.

Perhaps it is the hubris of free so­ci­eties, nat­u­rally pre­oc­cu­pied with do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal “en­e­mies” and bi­ased against de­fense in­vest­ment, that makes it pos­si­ble for press and pro­fes­sional an­a­lysts to re­port so lit­tle, and such rosy-hued the­o­ries as these about VOSTOK-18:

• Moscow ex­ag­ger­ates the size of VOSTOK-18.

• VOSTOK-18 does not sig­nify an un­de­clared Rus­sia-China al­liance.

• VOSTOK-18 is to im­press the Russian peo­ple.

Moscow is ex­ag­ger­at­ing the size of VOSTOK-18?

There is no ev­i­dence Rus­sia over­stated the num­ber of forces ex­er­cis­ing. On the con­trary, ever since Rus­sia won World War II in part by hid­ing 200 di­vi­sions from Ger­man in­tel­li­gence, Moscow has tried to con­ceal its real mil­i­tary strength.

Far more likely Moscow lied by un­der­stat­ing forces in VOSTOK-18. Rus­sia rou­tinely cheated on the Con­ven­tional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty by un­der­re­port­ing mo­bi­liza­tions for mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.

Russian mil­i­tary doc­trine calls for launch­ing a sur­prise at­tack by mo­bi­liz­ing forces un­der the guise of an ex­er­cise. Russian mo­bi­liza­tion for in­va­sions of Crimea and Ukraine hap­pened dur­ing so-called mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.

By the way, NATO mil­i­tary ex­er­cises rarely in­volve more than 30,000 troops — one-tenth the size of VOSTOK-18. But NATO ex­er­cises, no mat­ter how small, are rou­tinely de­scribed by the press as “large-scale” or “mas­sive” or other such un­war­ranted ad­jec­tives.

NATO has not con­ducted a big ex­er­cise, like REFORGER, that mo­bi­lized 115,000 troops, since 1987.

Nor do NATO’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers par­tic­i­pate in mil­i­tary ex­er­cises, whereas Vladimir Putin of­ten per­son­ally su­per­vises Russian ex­er­cises.

How will the of­ten quarrelsom­e 29 NATO lead­ers co­op­er­ate in war? For ex­am­ple, what will Ger­many’s An­gela Merkel do if Rus­sia threat­ens, if she sup­ports NATO de­fense of Poland against Russian in­va­sion, an EMP at­tack on Ger­many?

Surely the Russian Gen­eral Staff no­tices how small NATO’s mil­i­tary ex­er­cises are, and how thin the U.S. shield in Europe (1,000 troops in the Baltic States; 4,000 in Poland; 35,000 in Ger­many) are. Such an ane­mic pos­ture may un­der­mine de­ter­rence.

VOSTOK-18 does not sig­nify an un­de­clared Rus­sia-China al­liance?

One an­a­lyst claims VOSTOK-18 is aimed at de­ter­ring China from an­nex­ing Siberia, even though China par­tic­i­pated in the ex­er­cise. This is a plau­si­ble ad­di­tional mo­tive for the big ex­er­cise.

Any al­liance be­tween mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ships, like part­ner­ships be­tween gang­sters, like the Hitler-Stalin Pact, is usu­ally based more on mu­tual fear than friend­ship.

But the larger pur­pose of VOSTOK-18 is to im­press upon Washington that there is an un­de­clared Rus­sia-China mil­i­tary al­liance by a joint ex­er­cise that sim­u­lated against the United States a nu­clear World War III.

VOSTOK-18 may also be in­tended by Rus­sia and China to pro­tect their client state, North Korea. Py­ongyang has promised Washington de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, while clan­des­tinely build­ing more nu­clear mis­siles.

VOSTOK-18 sig­nals to Washington the es­ca­la­tory risk of de­nu­cle­ariz­ing North Korea by mil­i­tary force, giv­ing the State De­part­ment an­other rea­son to pur­sue ne­go­ti­a­tions, which, like all be­fore, will ul­ti­mately prove fruit­less.

Rus­sia and China want their client North Korea to pose a nu­clear threat to the United States to un­der­mine U.S. se­cu­rity guar­an­tees, to en­cour­age U.S. iso­la­tion­ism, to en­gi­neer a new world or­der dom­i­nated by Moscow and Beijing, at min­i­mum risk to them­selves.

Washington of­fi­cial­dom has never

Washington of­fi­cial­dom has never un­der­stood the Rus­si­aChina gam­bit nu­cle­ariz­ing North Korea, any more than they have un­der­stood that there is a de facto Rus­sia-China al­liance.

un­der­stood the Rus­sia-China gam­bit nu­cle­ariz­ing North Korea, any more than they have un­der­stood that there is a de facto Rus­sia-China al­liance.

China’s grow­ing mil­i­tary might is based on Russian tech­nol­ogy. China’s wealth helps prop up Rus­sia’s mori­bund econ­omy. They con­duct many mil­i­tary ex­er­cises to­gether, in­clud­ing sim­u­lat­ing nu­clear war with the U.S. over Tai­wan.

When Rus­sia and China are on the same side in a nu­clear war against Amer­ica, to Main Street USA that looks like a mil­i­tary al­liance.

VOSTOK-18 is to im­press the Russian peo­ple? Yes. Dic­ta­tor Vladimir Putin has con­vinced most Rus­sians that nu­clear civil de­fense drills in­volv­ing 20 mil­lion Rus­sians are nec­es­sary, and VOSTOK-18 is nec­es­sary, be­cause World War III is im­mi­nent.

Very rel­e­vant read­ing is the now de­clas­si­fied re­port “The Soviet ‘War Scare’” by the Pres­i­dent’s For­eign In­tel­li­gence Ad­vi­sory Board about how a 1983 mil­i­tary ex­er­cise nearly be­came nu­clear war — be­cause of para­noid mis­cal­cu­la­tion in Moscow.

So maybe gi­gan­tic Russian mil­i­tary ex­er­cises like VOSTOK-18 — that sim­u­lated two nu­clear strikes against the United States in one week — de­serve a lot more at­ten­tion from Washington and the press than Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh’s teenage sex life? Peter Vin­cent Pry, chief of staff of the con­gres­sional Elec­tro­mag­netic Pulse Com­mis­sion, served on the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee and the CIA.

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