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On December 19, German newspaper BILD reported that two NATO member intelligence sources had claimed the September drills were a “dry run” for a “full-scale conventional war against NATO in Europe.”
BILD had no official confirmation of the claim until recently when it ran an interview with Estonian General Riho Terras, who confirmed the accusations that Russia had “simulated a large-scale military attack against NATO.” Terras is the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces.
Aside from Belarus, the drills were also held in the Baltic Sea, western Russia, and Russia’s outpost at Kaliningrad. The Independent notes that according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the drills were intended to depict a fictional scenario concerned with attacks by militants.
However, according to Terras, Russia lied about the nature of their military exercises.
“Let me be clear: with the exercise Zapad 2017, Russia simulated a large-scale military attack against Nato,” Terras said.
“It was not targeted towards the Baltic states only, as it was a theater-wide series of exercises spanning from high North to the Black Sea.”
He also added that “The scale and extent of the entire exercise was far greater than officially stated.”
According to BILD, the drills involved far more troops than the 12,700 Russia initially claimed. BILD’s sources told the newspaper another 12,000 Russian soldiers had taken part in exercises near Estonia’s borders and more than 10,000 had participated in the area near the north of Finland and Norway.
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