Russia may have just practiced going to war with NATO

(National SentinelWorld War III: Little-noticed by Western media, Russia held a larger-than-normal air exercise in late March called “Ladoga 2018” involving more than 100 aircraft. Included were the 4++-generation Su-35 fighter, which was paired with the Su-34 light bomber, which is nuclear-capable.

For four days, aircraft from across the Western Military District to the Besovets Air Base near the Finnish border flew what can be best described as practice bombing runs against NATO.

But these air exercises are only part of what appears to be a much larger “readiness” effort by Russia to prepare for war against the West.

There was also a ground force component to these exercises, which are typically air force-only. On 12 March, a group of Belarusian Special Forces arrived in-country and linked up a week later with Russia’s elite 31st Air Assault Brigade, one of the formations deployed to Crimea in 2014.

That exercise began with the rapid insertion of forces into a designated conflict zone, where, by day two, the joint forces had taken control of the region and began advancing toward objectives.

Eventually, that exercise turned into an operation against terrorist forces with an emphasis on defending refugees and displaced persons. These drills coincided with a live-fire missile defense exercise by the Baltic Fleet involving 1,000 sailors and 10 warships, a readiness exercise involving all three Ground Forces armies in the WMD, and a 2,000-man reservist training exercise in Belarus.

At the end of all of those seemingly unrelated exercises, Ladoga 2018 began. 

This is excerpted from the 19 April 2021 issue of Forward Observer’s Strategic Intelligence Summary, a weekly look at conflict trends in four of the world’s most volatile hotspots and beyond by seasoned intelligence analysts, by subscription only. To subscribe for the cost of a cup of coffee per week, click here.

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