NATO even admitted that it was providing training in “offensive” operations. Have you heard about Zhytomyr? Did you know that NATO carried out cybersecurity training for Ukraine at Zhytomyr in September 2018 and described Ukraine as a “NATO PARTNER.“
As part of the NATO Defence Education Enhancement Programme for Ukraine, experts from allied countries visited the Serhiy Korolylov Zhytomyr Military Institute (ZMI) from 24 to 28 September, 2018 to assist with the development of a new course on cybersecurity. Ukraine is one of the first NATO partners (together with Tunisia) to develop such a course.
The experts provided working examples of cybersecurity education in a military institute context (Canadian, Polish and Irish military academies), facilitated through the adaptation of the Generic Reference Curriculum on Cybersecurity. They also demonstrated a step-by-step process to develop a customized course for a specific national context. This included a walk through of syllabus development, and a presentation of detailed lesson plans and laboratory exercises. The exercise involved cyber operations, both defensive and offensive, in support of an overarching military mission scenario.
If you are the Russian General charged with defending Mother Russia and you see this kind of activity on your border would you tell Vladimir Putin, “Ahh, NATO’s just playing. They mean no harm.”
What would Americans think if Russia conducted an annual military exercise like this with Mexico? We would be outraged and worried. We would naturally wonder, “why is Russia landing its troops on Mexican beaches?” This would be a direct challenge to the Monroe Doctrine. Russia would argue it is just helping Mexico to be prepared to defend itself. The United States has invaded Mexico, albeit almost 200 years ago. And the United States claimed Mexican territory as its own. You know, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. U.S. umbrage at Russia taking the Crimea rings a little hollow in light of our taking land by force from Mexico (i.e., 1836 and 1846 Mexican War).
One other thing to keep in mind in watching the videos of these exercises–the Russians are the target. These troops are not practicing to repel Martians or Chinese. They are training to kill Russians. That the Russians might be a little paranoid from watching these exercise from their shores is not a psychological disorder. Russian alarm about western intentions is grounded in western actions.