September 14-20, 2017, RUSSIA & BELARUS, The Russian and Belarusian armies plan joint military maneuvers across their two countries and in Russia's heavily militarized exclave of Kaliningrad, raising suspicions that the maneuvers called Zapad 2017 will be used as cover for a hostile act.
Russian troops took part in an anti-terror drill near Ukraine's borders in late Feb 2014, and remained in the area when Russia annexed the peninsula in March the same year. German broadcaster DW, one of many media outlets linking Zapad 2017 to possible Russian hostility, notes that in Jul 2008 Russia conducted military drills in regions near to Georgia, including Chechnya and North Ossetia, and that war between Georgian forces and Russia and separatist allies broke out only weeks after the drill.
Zapad 2017 will unfold against a backdrop of NATO war games in countries next door to Russia and amid heightened Russia-NATO tensions. NATO has accused Russia of cheating on Zapad numbers to avoid inspectors. Moscow's official statistics put the number of troops at around 12,000. Eastern NATO members believe some 100,000 military personnel will be involved. NATO and Russia formally agreed in 2011 that exercises involving over 13,000 military personnel would be inspected by the other side.
Foreign analysts estimate that between 70,000 and 90,000 soldiers took part in 2013.
What are Russia's Zapad war games? (DW Jul 2017)
Is the U.S. Ready for Russia’s Largest Military Exercises Since the Cold War? (Aug 2017)
Is the U.S. Ready for Russia’s Largest Military Exercises Since the Cold War?