June 19, 2018

Russian War Games on NATO's Eastern Flank

15 September 2017, 12:54 | Franklin Nunez

Russia begins large scale Zapad 2017 military exercise in Belarus

Estonia to send observers to Zapad exercise

Military threat to Russian Federation from Belarus, where the exercises "West-2017", is expected after the completion of the maneuvers, said the President of Lithuania.

While NATO's increased presence in the Baltic and the threat of more severe sanctions means Russian Federation is unlikely to attempt to seize further territory from Ukraine or from neighbouring NATO members, the West will be watching cautiously. Steps to draw up a scenario for the drills took account of modern approaches to the application of forces on the basis of modern armed-conflict experience as well as joint measures of the Russian and Belarusian Armed Forces' operational training, the statement said. The Zapad 2017 military exercise is held on the border with Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.

A Russian T-90 tank fires in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow during the first day of the "Army 2017" International Military-Technical Forum, Aug. 22, 2017.more +.

"We do not accept reproaches", spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

The exercises, a variant of Soviet drills during the 1970s, were revived on a large scale by President Vladimir Putin in 2009.

She also noticed that the exercises are already taking place, although they officially will begin only today. Ben Hodges, who leads U.S. Army forces in Europe, told Reuters that "people are anxious this is a Trojan horse".

The war games are under way in and around Belarus, involving armoured units, warships and aircraft. Russian Federation says they will simulate assaults by "extremist groups" trying to carry out "terrorist attacks".

Hodges and other US and European officials have stressed that the current exercises are probably just drills. "We believe that whipping up hysteria around these exercises is a provocation".

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Russian Federation has today kicked off its controversial week-long war games in Belarus and the Baltic, involving thousands of troops and military vehicles.

Others have expressed fears the exercise could be a cover a massive - and permanent - re-positioning of Russian troops, and possibly even a takeover of the pro-Moscow ally itself.

On the eve of the biggest Russian exercise since 2013, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation says it will have more soldiers than Moscow announced, with 13,000 troops, Sweden is conducting maneuvers simulating an attack from the east on the Baltic island of Gotland near the Swedish mainland.

Russia's neighbors have gotten the message, and some fear the Russians may have another, more nefarious goal in mind with this year's Zapad (Russian for "West").

But NATO claims Russian Federation has kept it in the dark and seems to be massively underreporting the scale of the exercises, which some of the alliance's eastern members insist could see more than 100,000 servicemen take part.

There is also unease in Kiev, and Ukraine is now conducting its own military exercises.

"We can't be totally calm. There is a large foreign army massed next to Lithuanian territory", he told Reuters news agency.

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