A joint-military exercise between Russia and Belarus codenamed “Zapad-2017” or “West-2017”, will see tens of thousands of soldiers stationed along the Baltic states.
With rising tensions in the region, and the cryptic lack of information from the Kremlin, NATO may be put into a state of alarm.
Central European powers are concerned over the scale of Russian military drills on its borders
General Breedlove said he was worried about the scale of the manoeuvres on the borders, targeted directly towards the West.
It is clear Russia want to reinstate its dominance and change the defence system in the whole of Europe
Raimundas Karoblis, Lithuanian Minister of Defence
The official stance in Moscow, is that Russia is preparing to ward off foreign aggression, but with recent events in Ukraine, experts believe hostile scenarios are covertly under play.
With the war in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and the increasing hostility between the Russian Federation and the West, the operations are expected to overshadow those from previous years.
An ex-NATO general testified before the US Senate about Russia's war games
The controversial military manoeuvres have been carried out alongside Belarus every four years since 2009.
Lithuania’s Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis added: “It is clear Russia want to reinstate its dominance and change the defence system in the whole of Europe.
“This is a danger for central Europe, especially the Baltic states.”
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Moscow has not revealed how many soldiers it is planning to deploy
A tight lid is being kept by the Kremlin on the exact details of the operation, but diplomatic sources and NATO experts expect the numbers to great.
In the past Russia has repeatedly misinformed about the exact number of soldiers used in its exercises.
The Kremlin reported 10,000 troops in its 2013 drills, however independent analysts estimated the numbers to have been up to seven times greater.
The Lithuanian government is worried about the safety of Europe
The president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite warned “West-2017” is a preparation for war.
Ms Grybauskaite said she will look to NATO for additional security measures, to combat the aggressive force.
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The 'West-2017' military drills will take place in September
She declared: “We see that risks are increasing, and we are worried about the upcoming 'Zapad 2017' exercise, which will deploy a very large and aggressive force on our borders that will very demonstrably be preparing for a war with the West.”
It is unknown how the situation will develop prior to September, but NATO is expected to strengthen its Eastern flank.
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