[..] The large geographic area this drill covers places it outside the usual pattern of other snap exercises conducted by Russia. It also puts it in the same areas where NATO has been conducting its exercises, including in the Baltics, Romania and Hungary. NATO’s most notable drills have been conducted under the U.S. Operation Atlantic Resolve, which has seen the rotation of a brigade-sized U.S. Army force and the arrival of armor and helicopters to support that deployment. Russia has noted increased U.S. surveillance flights over the Baltics and the expanded Baltic air policing operation that NATO conducts there.
An exercise including parts of the Russian military stretching from the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets through the western and southern military districts is notable. Russia has conducted even larger exercises in the past. However, those have tended to focus on a particular military district or fleet, or a combination of closely related ones. Conducting this single exercise in the area stretching from Norway to the Baltics through Poland and into Crimea is clearly angled toward NATO and its Eastern European members.[..]