Up to 70,000 troops participate in Zapad 2017 military drill

  • Tomáš Hošek
  • 28.9.2017 16:47

On 20 September, Russia concluded its week-long military exercise on Belarusian and western Russian territory, which tested Russia's defensive capabilities against a simulated military offensive from the West. According to experts, approximately 60,000 to 70,000 troops participated in the war games, thus disproving the concerns of European leaders and generals about the drill involving up to 100,000 soldiers.

Similarly, the games were not used to occupy Belarus or Ukraine as some scenarios suggested, although Poland already expressed its concerns about Russia leaving some of its military units in Belarus. Moscow has officially claimed that only 12,700 troops took part in the games, just under the 13,000 figure requiring foreign observers to be involved as agreed in the Vienna Document. According to some analysts, Russia apparently conducted several simultaneous manoeuvres close to each other, making the final number of troops significantly higher. Experts also agree the exaggerated estimates by western officials indicate a political win for Moscow. In reaction to the Zapad 2017 exercise, Poland launched joint NATO defensive exercises called Dragon-17 on 22 September, simulating an attempt to take control of a disputed territory in the north of the country through hybrid actions. Poland’s cyber defence units, as well as newly established civilian volunteer-based defence forces, were tested.

About author: Tomáš Hošek

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