Russia Kicks Off “Biggest Display Of Military Power Since The Cold War”

Thursday, September 14, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge.com
Sep 14, 2017

Today, Moscow kicked off its controversial, week-long “Zapad-2017” drill, the latest iteration of a series of training maneuvers that began under the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and which has angered and put NATO and Baltic States leaders on edge. Land, sea and air units will be taking part in war games until the 21st of September across a huge area encompassing western Russia, Belarus, the Baltic Sea and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

After a long break following the collapse of communism, Zapad, or “west” in Russian, was revived in 1999 and then was expanded after Vladimir Putin became president at the end of that year. Previous versions were held in 2009 and 2013. Moscow says fewer than 13,000 troops are participating – the threshold for inviting international observers – but NATO members believe as many as 100,000 troops will be involved in the drills. That would make this year’s drill the biggest display of Russian military power since the end of the Cold War a quarter-century ago.

Foreign observers from NATO were never allowed to watch Soviet-era Zapad exercises, and diplomats based in Moscow were barred from visiting regions where the exercises were taking place. That was supposed to change with the signing of the Vienna Document, adopted in 1990 by the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and updated in 2011, but Russia has always found ways to circumvent the agreement.

In the drill, Russia and Belarus will deploy their troops, designated as “the Northern ones” to stand up to the aggression from “the Western ones” – armed attackers from the made-up countries of Vesbaria, Lubenia, and Veishnoria. According to the scenario released by Russian and Belarusian defense officials, Vesbaria and Lubenia are located in the Baltic region and control the corridor which links the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad with Belarus.

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