Russian Federation and Belarus initially said September's Zapad 17 (West 17) exercise would only include around 12,700 troops strong, comprised predominantly of Belarusian troops.
Putin, commander-in-chief of Russia's armed forces, sat in a command center flanked by his defense minister and the chief of his General Staff, and used binoculars to peer through a cold drizzle at the simulated conflict unfolding before his eyes. 2017 military manoeuvres have caused concern among some North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members neighboring Russian Federation, who have criticised a lack of transparency about the exercises and questioned Moscow's intentions.
The exercise has caused much angst in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Western officials believe troop numbers could escalate to as many as 100,000, causing anxiety in nearby Baltic states and other countries.
The Russian Defence Ministry released a series of photos from the exercise.More news: NES Classic Edition to return to stores in 2018
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"The strike on ground targets was complicated by weather conditions: heavy precipitation, low clouds, and strong gusts of wind", a Russian Defense Ministry report said. The top USA general in Europe, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, told the Washington Post in Tirana on Monday that the exercises so far were familiar, though they were "larger than what they told us". Scaparrotti did say said the exercises were "larger than what they told us". According to the sources, three people were lightly injured and two cars damaged, and the military is already carrying out an investigation. They're usually very large. He said he told them they should not be concerned.
President Vladimir Putin observed Russia's biggest war games in years on Monday, watching as his forces successfully repelled an imaginary enemy and launched a tank-led counter offensive, part of an exercise that has rattled the West.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that Putin's absence was not a United Nations snub.
Russian Federation insists the exercises, which take place every four years, are entirely defensive.