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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Why the world is fretting Russia’s Zapad war games

Russian War Game

Share on Facebook September 16, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 390

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MOSCOW, Russia - For months now, Russia had been aggressively preparing for the massive military exercises in its western military region, called the ‘Zapad’ drills, and with each passing day, the fear psychosis related to Russia’s true ambition grew stronger in the West.

At the Zapad 2017 drills, the Russian military would showcase new hardware and upgrade existing systems in its western military region.

In days leading up to the start of the war games, U.S. officials said they believe Russia would have as many as 100,000 troops in the region for the exercise.

In its official statement, Russia has said that the current drills involve 700 pieces of military hardware - 7,200 troops from Belarus, 5,500 from Russia, up to 70 aircraft and helicopters, including 250 tanks, up to 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars, and up to 10 warships.

In the face of NATO statements, expressing fear that Russia might have ulterior motives, the Kremlin argued that the scale of the exercise was in line with international rules.

On Thursday, as the military exercises began in eastern Europe, Russia accused the West of “whipping up hysteria” over the war games.

Moscow further denied charges that they were being conducted with a lack of transparency.

The exercises are set to last until September 20 and are being conducted on military ranges in Belarus, western Russia, Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad and in the Baltic Sea.

Addressing a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We reject complaints of these exercises not being transparent. We believe that whipping up hysteria around these exercises is a provocation. It is a normal practice for any country to hold such exercises. Everything is being held in line with international law.”

Peskov added that the Russian President Vladimir Putin may visit one of the stages of these drills.

Despite the assurances, NATO has trained a hawk eye on the exercises and has said that they are larger than the 12,700 servicemen Moscow has publicized.

It said that the servicemen actually number some 100,000 troops, and involve firing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

On Thursday, Russia’s defense ministry reiterated that the exercises are of a purely defensive nature and are not a threat to any third country or group of countries.

NATO officials still argued that the drills will simulate a conflict with the U.S.-led alliance intended to show Russia’s ability to mass large numbers of troops at short notice in the event of a conflict.

However, Russia’s defense ministry said that it does not intend to use the drills as a springboard to attack Lithuania, Poland or Ukraine.

Returning the allegations, Kremlin argued that NATO has placed a 4,000-strong multinational force in the Baltics and Poland - in a bid to threaten stability in eastern Europe.

BNN

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