Kremlin accuses West of "whipping up hysteria" over Russian war games

15 September, 2017, 00:52 | Author: Wilson Dawson
  • Russian military exercises preceded conflicts in Georgia and Crimea

The tanks' arrival comes just days ahead of Russia's controversial Zapad 2017 war games, conducted with its ally and neighbour Belarus.

Russia's Defense Ministry said Thursday that elite parachute units in several Russian cities had been placed on alert to be deployed during the exercises.

Tensions between Moscow and the West have spiraled since Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and Ukraine is among the nations anxious Zapad 2017 could lead to further landgrabs.

US troops are now taking part in a multinational military exercise in Ukraine, an exercise that comes just days before Russian Federation is scheduled to launch their own massive military maneuvers that have put the region on edge.

But that has not reassured countries in the region anxious that Russian Federation poses a threat.

What messages do the drills send?

Russian Federation has rejected NATO's claims that tens of thousands of troops will take part in its current war games, insisting that it will be abide by the so-called Vienna Document requiring that any exercise involving more than 13,000 troops be open to observers.

There is an information war going on for public opinion in NATO-member states too, with Western governments keen to bolster their case for increasing military spending to counter a resurgent Russian military.

"Russia is still very, very unpredictable, and it has proved this unpredictability with its activities in occupying Crimea, Ukraine, and Georgia", she said.

Even so, he adds, the opposition in Belarus is anxious that the exercises "could be a Trojan Horse for bringing in Russian troops and equipment, and that they simply won't leave afterwards".

How many troops are participating? And few believe NATO's claim that a naval exercise already underway in the Baltic Sea - and which is due to last until late September - is unconnected with Zapad.

"We urge Russian Federation to share information regarding its exercises and operations in NATO's vicinity to clearly convey its intentions and minimize any misunderstandings", Pentagon spokesman US Army Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told CNN.

The US military commander in Europe, Lt General Ben Hodges, echoed such concerns in an interview this summer, admitting that: "people are anxious this is a Trojan horse". "Russia is the country that affects security in Europe right now with its it is clear that we are watching very closely what Russian Federation is doing".

"We do not accept reproaches", spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday. "Every nation, also Russian Federation, has the right to exercise its forces but it's important this is done in a transparent way to prevent misunderstandings, miscalculations", he said.

Sweden has started its largest military exercise in over 20 years with almost 20,000 troops drilling on air, land and sea, including a contingent of over 1,000 USA soldiers, amid rising military activity in the Baltic Sea region. Sweden is not a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but membership is expected to be a contentious issue in the 2018 election.

One senior European security official said Zapad would merge manoeuvres across Russia's four western military districts in a "complex, multidimensional, aggressive, anti-NATO exercise". Three Russian army exercise areas are used for the Zapad 2017 exercise.


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