American Expert Dispelling Myths about Zapad-2017 Military Exercise
The Zapad-2017 military exercise that will take place in September in Russia and Belarus has already begun to draw attention in the Western press. In recent days, media outlets have published somewhat panicked accounts about the unprecedented numbers of Russian troops conducting drills on the borders of vulnerable eastern European countries like Poland and Lithuania.
Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist in the Strategic Studies division of CNA, said that The Zapad exercise is a regularly scheduled event that has been held quadrennially since 1999. It is part of an annual rotating series of large scale exercises that serve as the capstone to the Russian military’s annual training cycle, expert wrote in The National Interest.
Expert claimed what United States know is that the total number of Russian troops on Belarusian territory is not expected to exceed 3,000 personnel. In his opinion, the likelihood of this exercise serving as cover for some larger nefarious aim, whether it is an attack on Ukraine or Lithuania or a stealth occupation of Belarus, is practically zero. In fact, some analysts in Moscow believe that the exercise is being kept unusually small this year precisely, analyst said.
According to him, Zapad-2017 will be just like past Russian strategic operational exercises. For one week in September, Russian and Western media will breathlessly tout the might of the Russian military. Then the Russian military will return to its normal bases inside its own territory. And experts on both sides will begin to publish detailed analyses of what the exercise actually showed regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the Russian military, though these will largely by disregarded by Western media outlets who will have moved on to some other story, expert resumed.