Russia and former Soviet ally Belarus have launched the “hot phase” of a 3-month-long military exercise involving 200,000 troops — as Ukraine’s president said all-out war with the northern neighbor was possible.
The Russian Defense Ministry released video of warships and tanks opening fire and fighter jets taking off. It said the troops had practiced repelling an aerial attack and that it tested S-400 air defense systems on Russian-annexed Crimea, Reuters reported.
The live-fire drills are the culmination of the “Zapad-2021” war games that will run until Thursday on Russia’s and Belarus’ western flanks, including areas near NATO and the European Union’s borders.
Mathieu Boulegue, a research fellow at Britain’s Chatham House think tank, said the first three days of the “hot phase” exercises, launched Friday, focused on defending against a Western attack, with the remaining four days devoted to a counter-offensive.