The Tsentr-2019 strategic command post exercise will be one of the most important exercises in the domain of military drill. The main objective is to assess the level of combat readiness of the military. Given the contemporary conflicts in South and Central Asia and emergence of new dynamics in the Middle East, the exercise would likely to create more tensions between Russia and the West. One of the main reasons for this assessment is that while NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region has not always been a question of the balance of power, the Ukraine’s policies towards Russia have the risk of a military confrontation, in which NATO may be involved. It is this interconnected risk that legitimizes the show of combat readiness in Tsentr-2019.
According to reports, nearly 130 thousand personnel, more than 20 thousand weapons and military equipment and about 600 aircraft will be involved in the Tsentr-2019 – which will be held on September 16-21. “In total, about 128 thousand military personnel, more than 20 thousand weapons and military equipment, about 600 aircraft and up to 15 ships and support vessels will be involved,” TASS reports quoting the Russian Ministry of Defense press service.
The strategic impact of such an exercise may be assessed in the following: Firstly, Russia along with its allies would demonstrate scope of Russian response in the wake of conflict with Ukraine or any aggression from other powers outside the region. Secondly, Russia considers future wars most likely taking place on land, and thus a comprehensive combat ready response. Thirdly, testing of new military equipment, and assessing the strategic significance of deploying overwhelming military force within a few miles of Russian territory while keeping the West and Ukraine from intervening.
Another aspect of such exercises is related to professionalism. The units from Pakistan and India are also participating in Tsentr-2019 strategic command post exercise. Despite revocation of Kashmir’s special status by India, and rising tensions between the two nuclear rivals, it is assessed that relations between military personnel will not be impacted during these exercises. Professionally, Pakistan military has a proven record of remarkable contributions in the UN peacekeeping missions, and it also has been serving alongside Indian soldiers in the UN missions – the relations between two militaries remain strictly professional. Most importantly, it is also assessed that since the Kashmir dispute remains at the UNSC agenda and part of bilateral agreements between two countries, therefore, no negative impact is expected at such forums. Russia too has been playing a remarkable role in preventing regional conflict, which in turn would help opening new channels of communication between regional states.
Russia’s drive to project a sustainable defence mechanism especially in partnership with regional states demonstrates that a “unified stand” to protect collective national interests has become a strategic requirement. The ensuing analysis of previous conflicts establishes that a joint military response keeps the foreign military alliances away from intervening in regional conflict. The balance of power and protection of national interests are two of the most important instruments of stability – which Russia has achieved during the past couple of decades.
To be concluded, whereas the strategic impact of Tsentr-2019 command post exercise may cause further tensions between Russia, West and Ukraine, the significance and regional defence cooperation cannot be ignored.