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UK Defense Ministry: Russia likely cancels Zapad-2023 exercise due to lack of troops, equipment

by Dinara Khalilova August 28, 2023 12:17 PM 2 min read
Russian and Belarusian troops take part in the Zapad-2021 military exercise in Brest region in Belarus on Sept. 14, 2021. (Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Russia has "highly likely" canceled this year’s Exercise Zapad (West), its large-scale joint strategic exercise (JSE), due to the lack of available troops and equipment, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on Aug. 28.

"There is a realistic possibility that the Russian leadership is also sensitive to domestic criticism liable from running another slickly presented JSE  during wartime," the ministry wrote in its latest intelligence update.

The exercise should have taken place in September and become "the culmination of the military’s training year," reads the update.

From 2010, Moscow ran a four-year cycle with JSE rotation across the country, according to British intelligence. However, starting in 2021, Russia has based the JSE in western Russia at least every two years as it prioritizes countering what it sees as a threat from NATO.

The Zapad exercise in 2021 was the largest Russian military exercise since Soviet times.

"The Russian military’s under-performance in Ukraine has highlighted how JSEs have had limited training value and have largely been for show," adds the report.

In its previous intelligence update on Aug. 27, the U.K. Defense Ministry wrote about skirmishes between Ukraine and Russia's maritime and air forces over strategically important gas and oil platforms in the Black Sea.

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