Russia and Belarus to host Zapad-2021 military drills

Russia and Belarus will commence their joint six-day Zapad-2021 military drills from today until September 16. The Zapad-2021 drills will

Russia and Belarus to host Zapad 2021 military drills

Photo: Russian Defense Ministry

Russia and Belarus will commence their joint six-day Zapad-2021 military drills from today until September 16.

The Zapad-2021 drills will involve roughly 200,000 personnel from Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as more than 80 planes and helicopters, and 760 pieces of military equipment. The drills serve as a means to practice defensive strategies against possible attacks from the West.

The joint drills will create tension in the region due to their geographical proximity to the European border, amplified by the threatening stance of Russia and its allies. The neighboring European countries fear that Russia will close the Suwalki Gap, a stretch of land on the Polish-Lithuanian border, which acts as a barrier between the Baltic states and NATO.

Russian-Belarusian cooperation during Zapad-2021 illustrates Belarus’ potential abdication of its sovereignty to Russia. Russia is establishing a military hold on Belarus, which was exemplified by May’s joint air-defense operations out of Belarusian airfields. Russia is positioning its military in Belarus, in conjunction with joint drills, to establish a frontline against NATO states. While the Russo-Belarusian cooperation is benefitting Russia’s long-term objective of geographical expansion into Europe, Belarus is also developing its military capabilities and regional protection.

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