Opening day of the “war game” Zapad-2021 between Russia and Belarus on September 10 – Photo: REUTERS
On September 11, the Russian Defense Ministry said that its forces used the Platform-M combat robot, which is remotely controlled and equipped with grenade launchers and machine guns.
According to Reuters news agency, the Russian side also used the Sarmat-2 tactical vehicle in this exercise.
Russian media reported that this is the first time these technologies have been used by Russia.
The “War Game” Zapad-2021 will take place until next Thursday on the western slopes of Russia and Belarus, including locations close to the border of the European Union.
Ukraine and several countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have expressed concern about Zapad-2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Zapad-2021 is taking place against any foreign power.
Putin also affirmed that holding this exercise is reasonable in the context of NATO’s increased activity near the borders of Russia and its allies.
Meanwhile, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania argue that holding such large exercises near the border risks being provocative.
“Russia’s goal may not be to occupy us – they don’t want to gain control through occupation, but they like instability and influence through instability,” he was quoted as saying by the BNS news channel. Martin Herem, commander of the Estonian Self-Defense Forces, on September 10.
According to Reuters, the exercises between Russia and Belarus are held every four years. Russia considers Belarus to be a strategically important buffer zone in the west.
However, this year’s exercises are seen as a special signal of Russia’s support for Belarus and its leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko has been ostracized by the West for allegedly suppressing dissent.