Sweden starts largest military drill in over 20 years

Sweden starts largest military drill in over 20 years

Sweden starts largest military drill in over 20 years

The main objective is to integrate the two countries' military headquarters in a realistic combat scenario.

The last time Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Belarus a new war erupted. Moscow claims that it will be relatively small: about 5,500 Russian personnel and another 7,200 from its ally Belarus, as well as roughly 70 aircraft, 250 tanks, 200 artillery systems and 10 naval ships.

Estonian Defense Minister Juri Liuk, however, says Moscow could deploy up to 100,000 troops.

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".

The 29-nation Western alliance also has an air-policing mission over the Baltic republics.

Even though the Kremlin maintains that the exercise is purely defensive, Baltic and Eastern European states have reason to be concerned: the 2013 version of the drills is widely regarded as a training exercise for the annexation of Crimea the following year.

All the designated units of the Russian army have arrived in Belarus for the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017.

"The security situation has taken a turn for the worse", Micael Byden, the commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, said during a presentation of the three-week-long exercise.

NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month called on Russian Federation to "be fully transparent". The theme of the exercise is uprising in Belarus by fifth columnists, followed by series of attacks by terrorists and backed by a fictitious country called Veishnoria.

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"The degree of mobilization is really impressive", Soloch said on private Radio Zet.

But for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and its allies, especially jittery members such as Poland and the Baltic States which only broke free from Moscow's grip 25 years ago, such reassurances have not dampened suspicion.

"The drill is a threat to us, no matter what Russian Federation says", he told Polish TV.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has warned - while speaking in the country's parliament - that the drills show that Russian Federation is "preparing for an offensive war of continental proportions" and planning "a new assault group.to strike Ukrainian territory". "Western countries have taken the bait completely", said its Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö in a recent interview, calling Zapad "primarily a propaganda exercise".

"We have chosen [to use] military bases that are significantly removed from the borders with Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia", Voinov was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

This year's exercises, called Zapad ("West") 2017, are the first since Russian Federation annexed the Crimea in 2014.

Russian and Belarusian tanks, jets, artillery, and infantry have begun surging toward European Union borders in a massive war game that is taking place amid genuine Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

Some people think fears of Russian aggression are being blown out of proportion.

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