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Russia launches Zapad war games in Belarus

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A Russian tank brigade from the Moscow area is becoming a member of the Zapad train

Russia and Belarus have launched a large-scale joint navy train, referred to as Zapad-2017, which has made close by Nato international locations nervous.

It is considered one of Russia’s largest navy workouts since its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

Russia’s defence ministry says about 12,700 troops are taking part, however Nato expects the numbers to be greater.

The war games are below method in and round Belarus, involving armoured models, warships and plane.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has warned that Zapad-2017 (Russian for “West”) might be a prelude for an invasion of Ukraine. Kiev has stepped up safety on Ukraine’s borders.

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Pro-Russian separatists management a swathe of jap Ukraine and their persevering with skirmishes with Ukrainian authorities troops have undermined a ceasefire signed in Minsk in February 2015.

Nato accuses Russia of supplying the rebels with heavy weapons and troop reinforcements. Russia denies that, however admits that some Russian “volunteers” are serving to the rebels.

Nato has deployed four battalion-size battlegroups – four,530 troops in complete – to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which border on Belarus and Russia.

The 29-nation Western alliance additionally has an air-policing mission over the Baltic republics.

The state of affairs for the Zapad-2017 train is an armed rebellion in Belarus by “saboteurs” and “terrorists” backed by a fictitious nation referred to as “Veishnoria”. Russian forces are deployed to Belarus to assist crush the revolt.

The principal goal is to combine the 2 international locations’ navy headquarters in a sensible fight state of affairs. Belarus is mobilising about 7,200 troops and Russia about 5,500, Russia’s defence ministry says.

The Russian territory of Kaliningrad – sandwiched between Nato members Poland and Lithuania – is included in the train.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has shut ties to Russia, although there have been periodic disputes over commerce.

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