September 26 saw the beginning of the second phase of the large scale Russian and Belorussian combined military anti-NATO exercises code-named Zapad-2009 (West-2009). The exercises, the first phase of which began on September 9, involve over 12,500 troops, more than 100 aircraft and helicopters, and some 4,000 pieces of military equipment including tanks, armoured personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery, tube artillery, self-propelled multi-rocket launchers, and ground-based SAM systems. According to Krasnaya Zvezda, the official organ of Russia’s defence ministry (the front page has now been cleared of most of the war-game news), the second phase is focused on air defence operations, and includes the firing of S-200 air defence missiles at the Telemba Range in Chita Oblast. The newspaper said that during the exercise Russian special force units would operate in conjunction with Belorussian territorial troops against invading forces. (Jamestown, Telegraph).
The Zapad exercises, or war-games, are scheduled to end today, September 29.
There are also at present Russian military and naval manoeuvres in the Baltic, and the mock naval “Battle for the North”, which is part of the Ladoga-2009 war-games, is reaching its culmination point off the Kola Peninsula.