What can we learn from Russia's military drills?

Bryan Strickland
September 15, 2017

They say Russian Federation could use the occasion to position a large, permanent contingent of troops in Belarus, leaving the country at the mercy of any armed confrontation involving Moscow.

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

But Russia's Deputy Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin, has rejected what he described as Western "myths about the so-called Russian threat".

He added that the drill is part of a "pattern of a more assertive Russia" that has shown it was "willing to use military force against its neighbours", referring to Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008 and its covert invasion of Ukraine three years ago.

"We don't see an imminent threat against any North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, but the best way for Russian Federation to help to reduce tensions and to avoid or prevent misunderstandings, miscalculations, is to be transparent".

American troops were deployed to bases across Poland this year on a rotating basis as reassurance amid Russia's increased military activity.

All of it "nonsense", according to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who slammed claims that it was planning to leave troops behind in Belarus.

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

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According to the Times, Zapad-2017 "is the latest iteration of a series of training maneuvers that began under the Soviet Union in the 1970s" and were revived in 1999 and expanded under Russian President Vladimir Putin. Part of the drills took place on a patch of land in the Suwalki Gap, which borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

The operation was launched in April 2014 following the reunification of the Crimean Republic with Russian Federation following a referendum, which the United States and other Western countries refer to as an "annexation".

Minsk has said the games will role play a conflict with a made-up rebel region backed by neighbouring European nations.

They are there to emphasise Nato's determination to defend its allies - and Russia's closest Western neighbours. The Ministry of Defence does not have information regarding the extent of the access that observers will have to the drills.

However, Russia has stressed that only 12,700 troops are taking part in the war games, which falls under the 13,000 threshold for mandatory monitoring under the Vienna agreement.

The exercise in Ukraine comes as Russia is gearing up for its major military exercise, Zapad 2017, which is expected to involve tens of thousands of troops operating along NATO's borders in Western Russia, the Russian European enclave of Kaliningrad and Belarus.

Sweden has started its largest military exercise in over 20 years with almost 20,000 troops drilling on air, land and sea, including a contingent of over 1,000 US soldiers, amid rising military activity in the Baltic Sea region.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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