• Articles,  The Cipher Brief

    Russia’s Looming Military Exercise: A 21st Century Trojan Horse?

    Beginning Thursday, as many as 100,000 Russian and Belarusian troops will launch major military exercises along the border of three NATO countries. Russia’s upcoming Zapad military exercise, which will simulate a response to an attempted overthrow of the Belarusian government by an insurgency unfriendly to Russia, has European countries and the United States on edge at a time when relations between the NATO alliance and Moscow are colder than ever. Zapad has the potential to be the country’s largest military exercise since the Cold War – despite Russian claims that only roughly 13,000 troops will participate, Western defense officials have put forward estimates closer to 100,000. Many suspect the Russians…

  • Articles,  National Interest

    Zapad 2017: Should We Fear Russia’s Latest Military Dress Rehearsal?

    The Russian military is now a sharpened policy tool of choice for an emboldened but strategically defensive regime that relies on preemption. In mid-September, Russia will conduct Zapad “West” 2017, a major quadrennial military exercise that takes place near the borders of the Baltic States and Poland as well as inside independent Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Not since the end of the Cold War has a modern-day military exercise prompted as much speculation and concern as this Western-oriented display of Vladimir Putin’s machines of war. The prospect of Zapad 2017 raises tantalizing and worrisome questions. Will it turn out to be a traditional preparedness operation, in which…