Is Trump ready for Putin’s invasion of Belarus? Russian forces are gathering

Thursday, 14 September 2017, 03:26:18 AM. Zapad (or West) will take place across the border with NATO members Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.
Share Opinion This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site. On September 14 Russia will begin what is likely to be its largest post-Cold War military exercise. Zapad (or West) will take place across the Belarusian border with NATO members Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now Although Russian military and civilian authorities insist that there is nothing for the West to worry about, the confluence of Moscow’s past actions, its current foreign policy, the state of Russia-West relations, the domestic political imperatives of the Putin regime, and its relations with Aleksandr Lukashenko’s Belarus warrants careful watching of the drill. To begin with, there is a lack of clarity about the scope of the Zapad maneuvers, which are to last six days and nights. Russia insists the troops deployed will not exceed 13,000, thus effectively closing the drill to on-the-ground observation by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) members. Yet, as in the previous Zapad exercises held in 2009 and 2013, the exercises are likely to be accompanied by a host of simultaneously held “snap exercises” (there were eleven such drills in 2016). Today, too, the pre-drill deployments point to far larger contingents over a greater territory than those officially announced. According to Belarusian defense officials, the personnel involved is deployed from the Kola Peninsula near Finland to Kaliningrad, the home of...Read more
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