• Short Summary

    Three days of Soviet army exercise ended in the Baltic state of Lithuania on Thursday (26 July).

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    Three days of Soviet army exercise ended in the Baltic state of Lithuania on Thursday (26 July). Observers from western countries were among those invited to attend by the Soviet authorities.

    SYNOPSIS: The exercises were codenamed 'Neman' after the Lithuanian river which flows into the Baltic one thousand kilometres (six hundred miles) west of Moscow. Helicopters have an increasingly important role to play in modern warfare both as a back-up to infantry and as a low-level strike force.

    In line with the Helsinki agreement the Soviet Union invited military observers from twelve western countries including members of the North Atlantic Treaty organisation (NATO). The United States declined to send an observer on the grounds that it does not recognise Soviet rule in the Baltic state.

    Twenty-five thousand troops with air support took part in the exercises. The pattern of the manoeuvres was for half of the forces to drop men and supplies in the battle zone and then launch an attack on heavily defended positions. Small arms fire and blank shells gave the troops much needed cover as the 'attacking force' formed up for its push on the enemy positions.

    The exercises also gave Soviet troops the chance to display their expertise in unarmed combat.

    The exercises come at a time when American President Jimmy Carter is struggling to gain Senate approval for the new SALT II treaty. Many senators have expressed concern about what they call the continuing Soviet military build-up, but Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko has said renegotiation of the treaty is out of the question.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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