Zapad 2021 is quietly drifting into the picture


Two and a half weeks remain until September 10, when the joint Russian-Belarusian exercise Zapad2021 will begin.

This is a joint exercise repeated every four years, which, according to the organizers, is conducted for defense activities in the area. However, it is still worthwhile following what is happening very closely and keeping an eye on the activities before and after the exercise.

It has already been stated that this time 12,800 members of the Belarusian Defense Forces will take part in the exercise, in addition to the 2,500 Russian troops, and 50 soldiers from Kazakhstan, which have also been invited to participate. The exercise will officially begin on September 10 and should end on September 16. The military and equipment deployed to Belarus should be gone from there by the last days of September.

On the technical side, about 350 armored vehicles will be involved in the exercise, including 140 tanks and more than 30 planes and helicopters.

Quite a bit of information about the nature of the 2021 exercise has been published in the media so far, but it will probably start to increase in the coming weeks, with the aim of causing anxiety in the West.

The Russian media has already read about testing the latest version of the tank force support vehicle “Terminator” during the exercise, but also about how the Russian Defense General Staff, together with various ministries and agencies, has created an innovative defense-funding model that should correspond to modern warfare.

As you can see from previous issues and news, the information war part of the exercise has already started and is gaining momentum.

The entire eighth edition of the „Sõjateadlane“ (military scholar) magazine is devoted to the „Zapad 2017 information war point of view”.
Including chapters like, “Informative aspect of the Zapad 2017 exercise”, “Creating a culture of fear in modern hybrid war in Russia and Zapad 2017”, “Fear mechanisms in strategic narratives on the exercise Zapad 2017” or “Photophobia: cyber threats and information war discourse in the media on Zapad 2017”.

The importance of the information warfare component in the Zapad2017 exercise has also been highlighted in the Diplomaatia (Diplomacy) columns by Sergei Sukhankin, a researcher at the Jamestown Foundation, who writes: In fact, exactly how many soldiers took part in the exercise is of secondary importance.                                                     Russia achieved its main propagandistic goal even before Zapad began: by manipulating, distorting and falsifying information, Russia’s propaganda machine managed to sow the seeds of suspicion that spread panic in the West, which was one of the Kremlin’s most important goals. In addition, unlike its predecessors (during which Russia deliberately showed less of its actual strength and attack potential), Zapad 2017 represented a peculiar mixture of intimidation and defensive rhetoric, intended for both foreign and domestic audiences at the same time. ”

Although the surrounding situation has been tense during previous Zapad exercises, this time the migration conflict on the Belarusian borders with Lithuania and Latvia, as well as the recent events in Afghanistan has set a completely different tone than before.