Zapad - photos from exercise that is causing angst in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Geneva Matthews
September 20, 2017

Meanwhile, media outlets reported Tuesday that a Russian military helicopter accidentally fired rockets near a crowd of spectators during the Zapad exercise.

The video clip, published by independent news site Fontanka.ru, showed a helicopter firing a salvo of rockets at a military truck covered in camouflage netting in open countryside, with three vehicles with no military markings visible, parked a few metres away.

Interfax did not say when the incident happened, or where, or if the exercise was part of the Zapad-2017 war games.

The Western Military District stressed that the video uploaded to social networks showed a different incident, which occurred when helicopter crews were practicing attacks on ground targets.

". At least two cars were burned, two people sustained serious injuries; they were taken to hospital".

Rockets were also fired at mock targets, exploding into fire and smoke as officials watched on. It remains unclear when it happened, but the 66.ru report suggests that it wasn't long before Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the range on Monday.

The Zapad war games - the word means "West" in Russian - focus on a hostile imaginary country called Veishnoria, which resembles a slice of the western part of Belarus with the biggest Catholic population and the highest prevalence of the Belarusan language.

By September 20, Russia and Belarus, the only Kremlin ally with a point of action towards the Baltic Sea area, will be deployed on Thursday, September 2017, the largest military exercise of the Russian forces since the Cold War. "As a result, an unguided rocket hit one of the trucks without any people in it". But NATO has accused Russian Federation of deliberately under-reporting the numbers of troops taking part; Moscow says no more than 13,000 are involved, while NATO officials have said it could be as high as 100,000.

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