Russia, Belarus kick off joint war games exercise to keep the West in check
Some analysts say that the action is a clear response to attempts by the US and allies trying to make inroads into Eastern Europe - considered as Russia’s backyard
Russia and Belarus kicked off their joint military exercise on Thursday to keep efforts of the West in check. The week-long war exercise has raised concerns among Western observers, who feel that the military game will be used by Russia to strengthen its grip over the Baltic region.
Though the officials in Russia claimed that only 12700 troops, 138 tanks, 40 jets and helicopters will be involved in the exercise, Western experts believe that close to one lakh troops will be in action. There is also concern that the exercise will be used as an excuse to permanently deploy Russian troops in Belarus.
The military exercise is called Zapad 2017, which means ‘west’ in Russian, and it has been used earlier for military drills conducted by the eastern giant in 1981 and 1999. According to The Washington Post, the drill involves action against three imaginary enemy states i.e. Lubenia, Vesbaria and Veishnoria. Many assert that this indirectly denotes NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Some analysts say that the action is a clear response to attempts by the US and allies trying to make inroads into Eastern Europe - considered as Russia’s backyard.
The Russians, according to experts want to demonstrate their capability to seal off Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and deny access to NATO forces to in the Baltic Sea.
Observers also concur that the drill is aimed at ensuring that Belarus, which is under the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, stays within the sphere of Russia’s influence.Russian officials have countered all allegations by saying that western military drills in Russian borders have also increased in recent times. "The main goals are to improve interoperability among the military staff, harmonize troops management systems and provide commanders of various levels of importance with an opportunity to train their skills in planning military events and managing troops based on the experience received during modern armed conflicts," said the Russian defence ministry.