Friday, September 29, 2017

Russia's Zapad-2017 war games explained

Russia insists it will stick to international rules in its 2017 military drills with Belarus, but NATO and many western European nations remain on edge. DW looks at the games and why they could be a cause for concern.

Zapad, which means "west" in Russian, is a joint military drill conducted by the Russian and Belarussian armies along Russia's northwestern border with Europe, which is also NATO territory. The 2017 exercise, which takes place from September 14 to 20, is one of Russia's four annually rotating regional training operations that tests military strategy and troop preparedness by simulating war.

The Zapad games originated in the Soviet Union and the last exercises took place in 2009 and 2013. In the aftermath of those drills, NATO accused Russia of secretly using them to prepare tactics for its subsequent military invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Crimea and east Ukraine in 2014. NATO also accused Russia of ending both years' drills with hypothetical nuclear strikes on European nations.

According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) 2011 Vienna Document, a nation must allow other states to observe its military drill if more than 13,000 troops are involved. Russia has said only 12,700 troops will take part. However, western security analysts have pegged the number as high as 100,000.

While NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has welcomed Russia's troop disclosure, he also has said that the Western military alliance with roots in the Cold War has "every reason to believe it may be substantially more troops participating than the official reported numbers" based on previous drills. "NATO remains calm and vigilant," he said in early September while in Estonia (above).
Russia's Zapad-2017 war games explained Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Minato Namikaze