Zapad 2017: How should the West respond?

Russia’s next wargames do not mean that war is coming.

Russia has always conducted military drills more numerous and larger in scale than NATO’s. Zapad (“West” in Russian) is the exercise sequence that generates most concerns for NATO, not only because of its proximity but also because of memories linked with the huge 1981 iteration, the largest exercises the USSR had ever held, which showcased in all its might the power of its new operational manoeuvre groups. Zapad 2017 will be held in September and is perceived as a potential threat to the security of the region, especially by the Baltic Republics, not least because both the invasion of Georgia and that of Ukraine were preceded by major military exercises. Is the threat credible, and is the fear of an opportunistically expansionist Russia justified in this context?

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