Kremlin accuses West of "whipping up hysteria" over Russian war games

The annual Rapid Trident military exercises taking place in the western Ukrainian city of Yavoriv until September 23 involve an

Russia and Belarus have said that the exercises, which will last until September 20, will involve 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops, as well as a large number of military vehicles, war ships and aircrafts.

Still, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation drills continue to take place on Russia's doorstep, including a large-scale Black Sea exercise in Ukraine in July, which involved British and Turkish military vessels.

According to Belarus and Russian Federation, the exercise involves 12,700 soldiers and 250 tanks, as well as 200 pieces of artillery, 70 planes and helicopters and 10 warships on the borders of the Baltic states, Finland, and Poland.

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. After these military preparations many troops stayed in the area to participate in the subsequent war with Ukraine.

For some, that sounds uncomfortably like rehearsing a pretext for NATO's nightmare scenario, a Russian tank rush into the Baltic States.

"The Zapad 2017 joint strategic exercises are being supervised by the Chiefs of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus and represent the final stage of joint training of the two states' Armed Forces", the statement said.

Tensions between Moscow and the West have spiraled since Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and Ukraine is among the nations anxious Zapad 2017 could lead to further landgrabs.

The Russian army on Thursday launched a large-scale military exercise, its biggest one since it annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014. Grybauskaite believes that there's a "very large" probability that part of Russia's equipment, including troops, will be kept in Belarus after the military exercise. "The exercise is absolutely peaceful, and absolutely defensive in nature". "They say, 'We're just doing an exercise, ' and then all of a sudden they've moved all these people and capabilities somewhere". Non-NATO member Sweden has made a decision to strengthen its armed forces after spending has fallen to about 1 percent after it accounted for more than two percent of economic output in the early 1990s and began to reintroduce the compulsory recruitment system.

"There are many doubts and fears that, because of the Russian federation's previous actions, not all forces and equipment will be removed [from Belarus] after the exercise", he told reporters in Warsaw on Wednesday.

Organizers have invented three "aggressor countries" - Veishnoriya, Lubeniya and Vesbasriya - to whose attacks the Russian and Belarusian militaries will simulate a response. Back in 2008, military exercises also preceded Russia's invasion of Georgia.

However, Russia has stressed that only 12,700 troops are taking part in the war games, which falls under the 13,000 threshold for mandatory monitoring under the Vienna agreement.

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