According to western military experts, russia did not carry out a counter-terrorism operation but an attack on nato members in the controversial sapad (west) attack in september.
"At sapad, training has clearly been done for a gross interstate conflict," a nato spokeswoman in brussel said in response to a question from the german press agency.
The "bild" newspaper, citing unnamed western intelligence officials, reported that the russian-belarusian manover was about an attack on the baltic states. According to this information, flights of long-range bombers over the north and baltic seas were potentially used to simulate attacks on germany, poland, the netherlands and the scandinavian countries.
Nato spokeswoman oana lungescu did not endorse this portrayal. Intelligence reports have not been commented on, she said, but added: "the scope and extent of the 2017 sapad manover were much more crude than russia had previously announced."Nato had criticized this in the nato-russia council in october.
Moscow was the destination of the manover from 14. Up to 20. September declares counter-terrorism in a fictitious small state in western belarus. According to russian figures, 12,700 soldiers were deployed. According to western figures, there were actually 60,000 to 80,000 of them, most of them in the russian back room.
"This shows that the threat from russia has not diminished with the aggression in eastern ukraine, the annexation of crimea and the purges of its political leadership," commented a spokesman for the lithuanian defense ministry in vilnius.
The small baltic nato states had warned especially about the manover. Many fears did not come true – there was neither a russian attack on the baltic, nor on the near ukraine. Also, russia withdrew all its troops from belarus again. The manover rather showed contrasts between the allies moscow and minsk. Presidents vladimir putin and alexander lukashenko visited their soldiers separately. The leadership in minsk also sought transparency for observers of auben.
Military planners in russia as elsewhere have had to devise scenarios for defense as well as attack, expert nabi abdullayev of consulting firm control risk had said in september. "But it is not on the agenda of the russian leadership to invade neighboring eu countries that are also nato members."