Sweden starts largest military drill in over 20 years

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As a precaution, the U.S. Army has moved 600 paratroopers to the Baltics during Zapad and has taken over guardianship of the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which lack capable air forces and air defence systems.

Official Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) invitations for observation have not been issued, however. We have seen concentrate more and more troops as it goes.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials say they have been watching Russia's preparations for months, including the use of hundreds of railcars to carry tanks and other heavy equipment into Belarus.

"Today, the military exercise has shrunk to just two participants - Russian Federation and Belarus - but it is still viewed warily by military planners in the West", the newspaper says.

On Monday, Belarusian army vehicles prepare for war games at an undisclosed location in Belarus. The primary goal in these quadrennial war games is to prepare Russian troops for a major war - by some European estimates, as many as 100,000 could take part in the manoeuvres from September 14-20 - with their "presumed opponents" being the USA and its allies. 12,700 troops will take part in the maneuvers.

Russia-West relations nosedived to their lowest level since the Cold War in recent years after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its support of separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine, clashes that have left over 10,000 people dead.

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The discovery was revealed by the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Republican Shawn Jasper. Congress should conduct vigorous oversight of the commission's efforts, which are an affront to our democracy.

"We believe that the wave of hysteria around these exercises is absolutely provocative, as it is a common practice, it is the right of any country and the usual practice of carrying out such exercises". And Russian officials say no more than 13,000 troops will be involved in the drills - to which NATO observers have been invited in accordance with worldwide treaties.

Russia and Belarus say the exercises, which last until September 20, will involve 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops.

However, Russia has stressed that only 12,700 troops are taking part in the war games, which falls under the 13,000 threshold for mandatory monitoring under the Vienna agreement.

With 19,000 troops involved, Sweden will simulate an attack from the east on the Baltic island of Gotland, near the Swedish mainland.

Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas inflated the numbers to as many as 100,000 Russian soldiers, supposedly to be mobilized during the exercise - a belief which has also been voiced by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that the "artificial hype" about the maneuvers is aimed at "justifying the spending on NATO's military buildup on Poland and the Baltic states in the eyes of the western audience". For the purposes of the exercise the warring parties are located within real borders of Belarus: the Northerners, which include the Union State of Belarus and Russian Federation, and the Westerners, which are represented by a coalition of interested countries.

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