Russia’s Snap Exercises Raise Specter of Accidental War

Russia has continually sought to intimidate NATO through its deceptive practice of snap exercises, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. These military exercises are “broadcast as much smaller than they end up being, and “some of them are not announced at all” in violation of existing treaties, Scaparrotti said. Russia regularly violates these obligations, which require that any exercise with at least 9,000 troops must be announced, and any with 13,000 troops or more must be observed, he added. Russia has included as many as 100,000 troops in simultaneous, unannounced exercises, Scaparrotti said. “That’s very disturbing and it’s a way you can have miscalculation” that could lead to accidental war. He said there is precedent for mistrusting Russia in this area, especially in the invasion of Crimea, where Russian forces “used an exercise to shield what was a violation of the sovereignty of … Ukraine.” In recent exercises in Ukraine, Russian forces “rehearsed attacks on the eastern borders, actually flew toward it,” Scaparrotti said, greatly complicating EUCOM’s ability to clarify Russian intentions.