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In September, Russia held extensive military exercises that included the use of both Russian and Belarusian military forces. The drills were scheduled to last for at least a week.
On December 19, German newspaper BILD reported that two NATO member intelligence sources had claimed the September drills were a “dry run” for a “full-scale conventional war against NATO in Europe.”
BILD - Confirmation - Claim - Interview - General
BILD had no official confirmation of the claim until recently when it ran an interview with Estonian General Riho Terras, who confirmed the accusations that Russia had “simulated a large-scale military attack against NATO.” Terras is the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces.
Aside from Belarus, the drills were also held in the Baltic Sea, western Russia, and Russia’s outpost at Kaliningrad. The Independent notes that according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the drills were intended to depict a fictional scenario concerned with attacks by militants.
Terras - Russia - Nature - Exercises
However, according to Terras, Russia lied about the nature of their military exercises.
“Let me be clear: with the exercise Zapad 2017, Russia simulated a large-scale military attack against Nato,” Terras said.
Baltic - States - Series - Exercises - North
“It was not targeted towards the Baltic states only, as it was a theater-wide series of exercises spanning from high North to the Black Sea.”
He also added that “The scale and extent of the entire exercise was far greater than officially stated.”
BILD - Drills - Troops - Russia - BILD
According to BILD, the drills involved far more troops than the 12,700 Russia initially claimed. BILD’s sources told the newspaper another 12,000 Russian soldiers had taken part in exercises near Estonia’s borders and more than 10,000 had participated in the area near the north of Finland and Norway.
Due to a legal obligation established in the Vienna document, a Cold War-era treaty that lays out the rules of military exercises, drills featuring more than 13,000 soldiers should be open to observers who can fly over and interview soldiers....
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