Russian Federation begins war games 'eyeing Nato'

Russian Federation begins war games 'eyeing Nato'”

The drills involve up to 12,700 troops (some 7,200 Belarusian and around 5,500 Russian troops, with up to 3,000 of them deployed to Belarus), up to 70 planes and helicopters, up to 680 units of military equipment, including almost 250 tanks, up to 200 artillery units, multiple launch rocket systems and mortar launchers, and also 10 warships.

Russian Federation accused the West on Thursday of "whipping up hysteria" over its large-scale military exercises now underway in eastern Europe and denied charges that they were being conducted with a lack of transparency.

In addition to the stated 12,700 troops - around 7,200 from Russian Federation and 5,500 from Belarus - the Zapad exercise will include around 70 aircraft and up to 680 pieces of military hardware, including tanks, artillery units, and ships, Kartapolov told Krasnaya Zvezda.

The main goals of Zapad are to "improve interoperability among the military staff" as they mobilize to manage forces in a conflict, Russia's Defense Ministry said.

The most recent Zapad exercises, which occur every few years, took place in 2013, just before Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. Some of the alliance's eastern members allege that Moscow has committed more than 100,000 servicemen to the war games, a claim that has been rejected by Russian Federation as flat-out wrong. Estonia's defense minister, Margus Tsahkna, has pointed to a document showing that Russia's military has requisitioned over 4,000 rail cars for the war games, suggesting that the number of troops who will be traveling will be far more than the 12,700 Moscow says are taking part.

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Helicopters take part in Zapad-2017 war games, held by Russian Federation and Belarus, at an undisclosed location in Belarus on September 14.

The Zapad 2017 scenario simulates a situation in which the opposing sides are located within the actual borders of Belarus: on one side, "the Northern", which include the Belarus-Russia Union State, and on the other side "the Western", which represent a coalition of interested states such as Veishnoriya, Vesbariya and Lubeniya. Now we are better prepared: "we have more tools to deter and defense on our territory, we also help our partners and friends from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to see more, hear more and know more", said Grybauskaite.

"We believe that the wave of hysteria around these exercises is absolutely provocative, as it is a common practice, it is the right of any country and the usual practice of carrying out such exercises".

"There are many doubts and fears that, because of the Russian federation's previous actions, not all forces and equipment will be removed [from Belarus] after the exercise", he told reporters in Warsaw on Wednesday. "So obviously we are closely watching what Russian Federation is doing". It also serves to validate aspects of the Ukraine's military training program. Russian Federation had leased a naval base in Crimea from Ukraine prior to its seizure, and used troops deployed there to quickly take over the Black Sea peninsula.

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