Russia’s military exercise Zapad-2017, which will be conducted jointly with Belarus, will be actively scrutinized by Western media channels, and security and defence experts.
While the exercise is certainly yet another demonstration of Russia’s military power and political ambitions, it could also be preparation for a future aggression. In the run up to the exercise, Russia has continued to be secretive and hostile, in spite of its efforts to suggest a change of attitude. The increasingly volatile international situation, especially with regard to North Korea and the threat of war in the Far East, may also feature in Russia’s calculations for Zapad-2017 and its identification of opportunities concerning its European neighbours. This paper offers an overview and analysis of what we know about Zapad-2017 as well as deciphers a broader strategic meaning of this exercise.