NATO commander warns Russia could be making ‘serious preparations for big war’ amid huge military exercise in eastern Europe

Monday, September 18, 2017
By Paul Martin

Zapad war games being held by Russian forces in Belarus until September 20
NATO says lack of transparency around troop numbers has led to concerns
Senior general says Moscow could be making ‘serious preparations for big war’
Russia has denied the exercises are aimed at intimidating the NATO alliance

18 September 2017

A senior commander of NATO has warned that Russia could be making ‘serious preparation for big war’ as it conducts military exercises in eastern Europe.

General Petr Pavel, head of NATO’s Military Committee, said a lack of transparency by the Kremlin over the Zapad 2017 war games could lead to ‘unintended consequences of potential incidents during the exercise.’

Pavel said his chief concern is over troop numbers. While Moscow claims only 13,000 soldiers are taking part in the drills, Pavel believes the true number to be as high as 100,000.

‘All together, what we see is a serious preparation for big war,’ he said.

‘When we only look at the exercise that is presented by Russia there should be no worry. But when we look it in the big picture, we have to be worried, because Russia was not transparent.’

The Zapad war games, being conducted this year mostly in Belarus, run until September 20.

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