In the north-east of Poland, near the Kaliningrad region, the exercises of the Polish armed forces and the NATO combat unit Zalew-23 started. The beginning of the maneuvers is reported on Twitter by the Main Command of the Polish Armed Forces and the main participant in the maneuvers - the 16th Pomeranian Mechanized Division. They will last until March 31.

According to media reports, a total of 2.5 thousand people, 500 units of military equipment and logistics equipment were involved in the exercises. Zalew-23 should pass in four locations: near the village of Mojevina, in the seaport in Gdynia, at the 22nd air base in Malbork and on the Vistula (Baltic) Spit.

The Baltic Spit is a narrow strip of territory between the Gdańsk and Vistula Bays. Its western part belongs to Poland, the eastern part to Russia. In the immediate vicinity of the spit is the city of Baltiysk, where the base of the Baltic Fleet is located.

  • Vistula Spit Coast
  • Legion-Media
  • © Gryf

The main goals of the exercises, as reported in the article of the Polish news agency RAR, are to work out "effective actions" in the event of a terrorist attack. According to legend, the Polish Navy should conduct reconnaissance in the direction of the bays and "demonstration actions" in the direction of the Gulf of Gdansk. Also, the participants of the maneuvers will work out activities in case of contamination of the area.

"A shock fist is created"

In an interview with RT, military observer, retired Colonel Viktor Litovkin said that Zalew-23 is an undoubted challenge to the security of the Kaliningrad region and the military infrastructure of the Russian Federation in this region. According to the expert, the maneuvers of the Polish troops and the battle group of the alliance are of a distinct offensive nature.

"The significance of the Vistula Spit lies in the fact that it provides control over the passage to Baltiysk and Kaliningrad. Its full occupation makes it possible to block Kaliningrad and the Kaliningrad region from the sea. Apparently, this is the scenario at the exercises," Litovkin explained.

In a comment to RT, the director of the Center for Military-Political Studies, Alexei Podberezkin, also noted that during the exercises, Polish servicemen will perform activities resembling an offensive operation.

According to the expert, the maneuvers pose a potential danger not only for the Kaliningrad region, but also for Belarus.

"There is no need to talk about any defense here. In this case, this is a clearly expressed intention to show the degree of readiness for the possible use of military force against Russia or Belarus," Podberezkin said.

Nikita Danyuk, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of the RUDN University, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia, is also confident that Zalew-23 has an aggressive anti-Russian background. In a conversation with RT, the expert suggested that during the maneuvers the scenario of the blockade of Kaliningrad will be worked out.

"Kaliningrad has no land connection with Russia. Apparently, the Poles decided to conduct demonstration and aggressive exercises in order to show their readiness to block our region from the sea. We are hardly talking about the capture scenario. Here, probably, our enemies are smart enough not to hint at the possibility of such a rash, to put it mildly, attempt," Danyuk explained.

According to experts, the vast majority of Polish and NATO troops are deployed in the west and center of the country. However, almost any exercises on the territory of Poland in recent years have been accompanied by the transfer of personnel and equipment, including to the eastern regions of the republic.

  • Polish and U.S. military personnel, March 2023
  • Legion-Media
  • © U.S. Army/ZUMA Press Wire Service

Along with this, the north-eastern flank of the Polish Armed Forces is also noticeably strengthening. The Polish command plans to equip the 16th Mechanized Division, stationed in Olsztyn (about 100 km from the border with the Russian Federation), with American HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems, South Korean K2 tanks and K9 self-propelled artillery (SPG).

In addition, the multinational division "North-East" is deployed in the Polish city of Elbląg.

"The Poles themselves justify their rampant militarization by our special operation and the desire to defend themselves against "Russian aggression" together with NATO. But personally, I have the impression that in reality a shock fist is being created on the territory of Poland, which will include Polish mechanized divisions, aviation and American troops, "says Litovkin.

The expert recalled that last week the first permanent garrison of American troops USAG-P opened in Poznan. It is located in Kościuszko Camp, where the forward command of the 5th Army Corps of the US Army is located.

"Force Configuration"

It is worth noting that the number of American troops in Poland is constantly increasing. Currently, a contingent of about 10 thousand people is stationed in the country. At the same time, in August 2020, 4.5 thousand US troops were in the republic.

Today, in addition to the ground units of the US Armed Forces, Poland has a brigade of US combat aviation, ground missile defense system facilities, a combat support battalion and a multinational unit, the backbone of which consists of more than 800 American troops. This formation is designed to interact with the 15th Mechanized Brigade of the Polish Army.

In an interview with RT, the head of the European Security Department of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dmitry Danilov, said that Warsaw expects to deploy as many US troops as possible on its territory. The higher the concentration of American forces, the larger the combat coordination activities will be, and near the Kaliningrad region, the expert predicts.

"At the exercises of the Armed Forces of Poland, the Armed Forces of the United States and other NATO countries, combat coordination and logistics are always worked out - the transfer of troops, equipment, cargo. As far as I understand, the exercises on the Vistula Spit fit into this policy," Danilov said.

According to the expert, zalew-23 and a lot of other military measures in Poland are a confirmation of the sharp aggravation of the situation in the Baltic region.

"The security situation in this region is deteriorating. We see that warsaw is increasingly saying that the conflict in Ukraine allegedly affects the interests of the Baltic states, including Poland. And the situation will be even more complicated when Finland and Sweden join NATO. The Baltic Sea will be almost under the full control of the alliance. The configuration of forces in the region will change a lot," Danilov added.

  • Fighters of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Armed Forces in Poland
  • AP
  • © Alik Keplicz

The expert believes that the most effective means of deterring NATO in the region are the further development of the Armed Forces of Russia and Belarus and the strengthening of the defense alliance of the two countries. In this direction, as Danilov said, Moscow and Minsk made an adequate decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) in Belarus.

Recall, on Saturday on the air of the TV channel "Russia 24" Russian President Vladimir Putin said that on July 1 in Belarus the construction of a special storage of nuclear weapons will be completed. The Russian leader also spoke about the deployment in Belarus of the Iskander operational-tactical missile system (OTRK), which can be a carrier of atomic shells.

"The placement of TNW is not an emotional decision, as some try to present it. This is a rational move by Russia and Belarus, dictated by the calculation of the possibilities for responding to increasing challenges and risks," Danilov concluded.