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10:15 23 November
10:07 23 November
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Russia readies for huge military exercises as tensions with west simmer


Russia is preparing to mount what could be one of its biggest military exercises since the cold war, a display of power that will be watched warily by Nato against a backdrop of east-west tensions, the Guardian reported.

 

Western officials and analysts estimate up to 100,000 military personnel and logistical support could participate in the Zapad (West) 17 exercise, which will take place next month in Belarus, Kaliningrad and Russia itself. Moscow puts the number significantly lower.

 

The exercise, to be held from 14-20 September, comes against a backdrop of strained relations between Russia and the US. Congress recently imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Moscow in response to allegations of interference in the 2016 US election.

 

The first of the Russian troops are scheduled to arrive in Belarus in mid-August.

 

Moscow has portrayed Zapad 17 as a regular exercise, held every four years, planned long ago and not a reaction to the latest round of sanctions.

 

Nato headquarters in Brussels said it had no plans to respond to the manoeuvres by deploying more troops along the Russian border.

 

A Nato official said: “Nato will closely monitor exercise Zapad 17 but we are not planning any large exercises during Zapad 17. Our exercises are planned long in advance and are not related to the Russian exercise.”

 

A Nato official said: “Nato will closely monitor exercise Zapad 17 but we are not planning any large exercises during Zapad 17. Our exercises are planned long in advance and are not related to the Russian exercise.”

 

Russia has not said how many troops will participate in Zapad 17 but the Russian ambassador to Nato, Aleksander Grushko, said it was not envisioned that any of the manoeuvres would involve more than 13,000 troops, the limit at which Russia – under an international agreement – would be obliged to allow military from other countries to observe the exercise.

 

Earlier, Putin order to deploy S-400 and Iskander missile systems to Russia’s far-west territory of Kaliningrad in a direct response to NATO expansion in eastern Europe.

 

NATO has held numerous exercises in Romania, Estonia, Poland and Georgia over the past year. 

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