Russian Top Defense Official Says Zapad Exercises Don't Pose Threat to Europe

Russian Top Defense Official Says Zapad Exercises Don't Pose Threat to Europe

Russian and Belarusian soldiers will march in unison today, as their countries commence the quadrennial Zapad-Russian for "West"-military exercise".

Russia and Belarus say the exercises, which run until September 20, involve 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops.

The M1 Abrams main battle tanks and supporting armoured vehicles of the 2nd Armoured Brigade Combat Team docked in the north of the country overnight to bolster Nato forces along Russia's border.

In a statement announcing the start of the exercises Russia's defense ministry insisted the maneuvers are "of a strictly defensive nature and are not directed against any other state or group of countries".

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.

A shipment of USA military equipment has been unloaded at a Baltic Sea port in Poland as Russian Federation prepares to conduct war games across the border in Belarus. This was stated by President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite.

NATO's chief Jens Stoltenberg told the BBC that Russian Federation has a history of using "big military exercises as a disguise or a precursor for aggressive military actions against their neighbors". We have seen concentrate more and more troops as it goes.

But military analysts on both sides say the figures were misunderstood, and that the number of troops Russian Federation claims to have sent west do stack up.

In Latvia, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said all relevant ministries were in a state of alert.




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.

The worry over the exercises underlines the suspicions over Russian military intentions since its invasion of Ukraine three years ago.

President Vladimir Putin is intending to observe some of the wargame areas next week.

"We reject complaints of these exercises not being transparent", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters. 12,700 troops will take part in the maneuvers.

Compared to the U.S, Russian Federation is still a military underdog, and the fact that Belarus is its only partner in these exercises goes to show how Moscow's network of alliances has withered since Soviet times.

Minsk has said the games will role play a conflict with a made-up rebel region backed by neighbouring European nations. "Russia is the country that affects security in Europe right now with its actions.so it is clear that we are watching very closely what Russian Federation is doing".

But for Danish defence minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen, speaking on Danish radio on Thursday, the drill was created to "intimidate the Baltic states".

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.

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