Russia wants to present large-scale NATO exercises as provocation - ISW
Russia is trying to continue to present the large-scale NATO exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 as provocative in the information space
Experts from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) write about this.
Russia is conducting an information operation to misrepresent NATO’s defensive Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises – a response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and Russian threats directed towards NATO members - as provocative.
NATO's Steadfast Defender 2024 exercise begins this week and will last until May 2024.
The report recalls that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) responded to the initial announcement of the Steadfast Defender exercises in September 2023 and misleadingly claimed that NATO exercises have been increasingly provocative and aggressive in nature.
The Russian MFA claimed that NATO is continuing a ”demonstration of force” on Russia’s ”doorstep.”
The ministry also claimed that Russia had regularly proposed de-escalation initiatives to NATO, called for NATO to abandon its provocative actions, and transferred Russian military exercises to the country’s interior.
Russian sources claimed that NATO is using exercises to “wind up“ and incite the Baltic states to prepare for war with Russia and characterized such exercises as a "series of provocations."
On January 17, Yulia Zhdanova, a member of the Russian delegation at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 1066th plenary meeting, similarly claimed that NATO exercises on the Russian and Belarusian borders ”provoke a game of nerves” and ”compress the spring of escalation even more.”
A prominent Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger dismissed Pistorius’ comments about a possible future Russian attack on NATO, claiming that European officials regularly make statements about the ”concept of the ’Russian threat’” and that few Germans actually agree with these statements.
He implied that the German government is attempting to artificially create a threat from Russia that doesn’t actually exist by paying experts to ”say the right words.”
Analysts note that Russia's information operation aimed at painting defensive NATO actions in response to real Russian aggression on NATO’s eastern flank as provocative seeks to deflect from recent aggressive Russian rhetoric and behavior towards NATO.
Russian officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have recently threatened Finland and the entire NATO alliance.
ISW continues to believe that Putin invaded Ukraine in 2022 not to protect Russia from an unrealistic threat from NATO, but rather to weaken and ultimately destroy NATO, and this is a goal he is pursuing to this day.