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Archive for the 'NATO' Category

Is Russia Practicing a Dry Run for an Invasion of Belarus?

By Lisa J Walters, on 25 September 2017

Andrew Wilson, Professor of Ukrainian Studies

This piece was originally posted on foreignpolicy.com on 18 September 2017. Podcasts are available at: http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/22/staring-down-the-barrel-of-russias-big-guns/ and on iTunes

With tensions worsening between the two countries, Russia’s massive military exercise is firing a couple thousand warning shots at a reluctant ally.

Russian T-90 tanks take position before firing in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow on August 22, 2017 during the first day of the "Army 2017" International Military-Technical Forum. / AFP PHOTO / Alexander NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian T-90 tanks take position before firing in Kubinka Patriot Park outside Moscow on August 22, 2017 during the first day of the “Army 2017” International Military-Technical Forum. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia does military exercises regularly, but this year’s version, underway right now, deserves especially close attention. It’s called Zapad (“West”) and involves thousands of troops doing maneuvers on the borders of the Baltic states and Poland. The motivating scenario is to defend against an imagined invasion of Belarus by foreign-backed extremists. One of the fictional enemy states, “Vesbaria,” seems to be a thinly disguised Lithuania; the other, “Lubenia,” looks a bit like Poland. There will no doubt be the usual low-level provocations, with Russian planes buzzing borders, that will make the whole passive-aggressive show of strength look more like an invasion of the West than the other way around.

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