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War games are no game

12 7 0

MOSCOW – Since the Ukraine conflict in 2014, clashing worldviews have become deeply ingrained among NATO and Russian policymakers, and distrust is the default mindset.

We are witnessing a new kind of confrontation that is fraught with military risk. As we approach another “autumn exercise season” — with key events such as Russia’s Zapad-2021 and NATO’s Ramstein Alloy and Joint Warrior — there is an urgent need to mitigate the danger that training exercises become a flash point for conflict.

To be sure, a major-power rivalry with a strong military component is nothing new. In the past, it was the principal and decisive factor shaping and reshaping the political map and the international system. Today, military rivalries are one factor among many forces driving geopolitics, operating alongside economic development and technological prowess.

But when push comes to shove, it is the military dynamic that can be expected to play a decisive role, either as a deterrent or as an instrument of coercion. That is why all major powers — the United States, its NATO allies, China and Russia — are conducting military exercises more often and on a larger scale than ever.

This trend is likely to continue, including in and around Europe. As NATO’s own website explains, military exercises allow it to test and validate “concepts, procedures, systems and tactics” for use in a real theater of war. NATO is........

© The Japan Times

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