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Russian war game to 'intimidate' North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies

Russian war game to 'intimidate' North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies

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.

The US military commander in Europe, Lt General Ben Hodges, echoed such concerns in an interview this summer, admitting that: "people are anxious this is a Trojan horse". Ben Hodges, have raised concerns that Russia might use the drills as a "Trojan horse" to make incursions into Poland and Russian-speaking regions in the Baltics.

Perhaps the most plausible scenario worrying Western military planners is that the thousands of Russian troops moving into Belarus for the exercises will never go home.

Russian Federation has rejected NATO's claims that tens of thousands of troops will take part in its current war games, insisting that it will be abide by the so-called Vienna Document requiring that any exercise involving more than 13,000 troops be open to observers. "So obviously we are closely watching what Russian Federation is doing".

NATO's easternmost members have been wary of an increasingly aggressive Russian Federation, particularly following Russia's 2014 military invasion and annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Russia-West relations nosedived to their lowest level since the Cold War in recent years after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its support of separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine, clashes that have left over 10,000 people dead.

'It is all smoke and mirrors, ' the official said, adding that the Soviet-era Zapad exercises that were revived in 1999 had included simulated nuclear strikes on Europe.

The US has assumed command of airspace over the Baltic countries as a precaution and Ukraine has put its armed forces on alert. This was stated by President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite.

The Kremlin has vigorously defended its right to hold exercises and has long blamed the United States for ratcheting up tensions by expanding North Atlantic Treaty Organisation up to its borders and holding its own provocative drills.

For its part, the US and its allies have boosted force levels around the Baltics and Poland in the past year in an effort to reinforce defenses in the region. Only non-NATO member Sweden is holding a large-scale drill.

NATO, however, believes - without evidence - that more troops will be involved.

"Russia is the country that affects security in Europe right now with its actions - the annexation of the Crimea and continued battles in eastern Ukraine - so it is clear that we are watching very closely what Russian Federation is doing", Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces Micael Byden said, as reported by Reuters. "President Trump was also briefed about the Russian exercises, Zapad" in which has been anticipated by Western intelligence agencies that 100,000 troops would participate.

NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Everard said there was no need to mirror Zapad.


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