Russia launches Zapad war games in Belarus, bbc.com

Russia and Belarus have launched a large-scale joint military exercise, called Zapad-2017, which has made nearby Nato countries nervous. It is one of Russia’s biggest military exercises since its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. Russia’s defence ministry says about 12,700 troops are participating, but Nato expects the numbers to be higher. The war games are under way in and around Belarus, involving armoured units, warships and aircraft…

he Belarus government has said the Russian forces engaged in Zapad will all have left Belarus by 30 September. The official end date for the exercise is 20 September…

The scenario for the Zapad-2017 exercise is an armed uprising in Belarus by “saboteurs” and “terrorists” backed by a fictitious country called Veishnoria. Russian forces are deployed to Belarus to help crush the rebellion.

The main purpose is to integrate the two countries’ military headquarters in a realistic combat scenario. Belarus is mobilising about 7,200 troops and Russia about 5,500, Russia’s defence ministry says…

The Russian territory of Kaliningrad – sandwiched between Nato members Poland and Lithuania – is included in the exercise. Belarus state TV says 80 observers from Western nations, including Poland and the Baltic republics, are accredited to watch the exercise. They include officials from Nato, the OSCE international security body and diplomats posted to Belarus. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has close ties to Russia, though there have been periodic disputes over trade.

Poland’s Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz was among those voicing alarm about Zapad-2017.

“The drill is a threat to us, no matter what Russia says,” he told Polish TV. “It is far from being defensive, it is aggressive and this is dangerous.”Läs artikel