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Zapad 2017: context, impact and potential consequences of Russian military exercises. (DIEEEO102-2017)

The military exercises that Russia delivered between September 14th and 20th have erased much more attention than prior editions. Practices, known as ZAPAD (West in Russian language), and split into two parts were displayed in four different scenarios, Belarus among them. Part of this attention has been raised due to the events occurred since 2014 with the Russian annexation of Crimea and the defensive and deterrent response of NATO with its deployment in the Baltics and Poland.

In addition, there is an increasing controversy over two issues in which there is no unanimity yet: the definitive number of troops deployed and the destination of all units displaced into Belarusian territory. Opacity and the lack of transparency could be one of the keys that explains an atmosphere of mistrust in which the West fears the true intentions of President Putin - while Moscow defends the legitimacy of its actions. Although, there are exaggerations on both sides, it does not seem unwise to predict that after the ZAPAD exercises Belarus will not remain or continue as before and that will be an excellent opportunity to address the Russian advances in defence.

Author: Ricardo Lenoir-Grand Pons


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