A U.S. general says he believes more than 40,000 Russian troops were involved in controversial wargames last month dubbed “Zapad” 2017, far more than the 12,700 troops Moscow said took part officially.
“My guess is that there probably were over 40,000 service members in this whole-of-government exercise,” General Ben Hodges, commander of US ground forces in Europe, told reporters.
He says he believes the Kremlin actually staged at least two smaller wargames but essentially combined them into one so that Russia could flout international agreements requiring it to notify NATO when it is staging war games involving more than 13,000 troops.
“But in fact from a professional military standpoint these were all connected,” Hodges said, adding that Russian nuclear drills took place at the end of Zapad, which means, literally, “West.”
“I did not see in the scenario what I had seen before, where the scenario starts off with a nuclear strike on a Western city,” he said.
In addition to showcasing new conventional systems, Hodges said the games showcased the Red Army’s “powerful, sophisticated” electronic warfare techniques.
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