As Russia embarks on the ‘hot phase’ of the Zapad-2021 strategic exercise between 10-16 September, this briefing explains what the Russian armed forces will likely test and train for, as well as how the large-scale drills will unfold across the territories of Russia and Belarus.
It also addresses the geopolitical context behind the exercise and highlights what international attention should focus on.
This briefing covers the following questions:
- What is the geopolitical context of Zapad-21, notably in relation to Belarus and NATO?
- What can be expected from the strategic exercise in terms of scenario, numbers, and deployment size in Russia and Belarus?
- What does Zapad-21 show in terms of evolving military thought and lessons learned?
- What capabilities and military hardware will likely be tested?
- What should international attention focus on?
- What is Russia trying to communicate and should the West be concerned?
Mathieu Boulegue, Research Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House