A top Russia diplomat mocked European’s concern over war games with China by dismissing them as simply inclined to be scared. Andrei Denisov, Russia's ambassador to China, said that the international leaders should regard joint Russia-China naval drills in the Baltic Sea as a novelty and an opportunity for the Chinese navy to take a long-distance cruise.
The drills, which are taking place in two phases over the summer, contributed to NATO's decision to bolster their deponents to Eastern Europe in recent months. Denisov was speaking to Kremlin-run media when he said that those who are scared off are inclined to being scared, adding that the main thing is that rules concerning such events should be respected.
The Kremlin has a track record of violating the rules that govern military exercises, according to Western officials. Under international agreements, nations conducting military exercises are supposed to provide 42 days' advance notice and invite international observers to monitor war games that exceed a certain size. But Russia surprised the West in 2013 with exercises that included as many as 90,000 troops, despite announcing that only 12,500 would be involved, and has continued to mobilize tens of thousands of forces in ensuing games.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that every nation has the right to exercise its forces, the important thing is that this is done in a predictable, transparent way. Stoltenberg also emphasized that Russia is expected to adhere to the international obligations related to transparency and international inspections of the Zapad exercise.
The national security expert writing in national interest revealed that the Russian war games that took place in 2013 are particularly notable because various tactical aspects lent themselves to Russia's subsequent interventions both in Crimea and Syria.
Denisov made his comments the same day that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov predicted that NATO is doomed to failure because it lacks a reason for existence. Lavrov portrayed Russia as being willing to follow international rules, provided that those rules reflect a renewed world order in which the United States is not the sole superpower.
Lavrov made a statement on Friday in which he said that today, we are all participants of an objective process of forming a polycentric world order, adding that we are invariably open to working with everyone who shows the willingness to effectively address key issues of global development.
The U.S. relations with Russia have soured in recent years, however. The Obama administration criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for holding corrupt elections, while prominent U.S. lawmakers have accused Putin of having his domestic critics murdered. And Russia's annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine provoked economic sanctions, which President Trump's team has vowed will remain in place until Russia withdraws.