NATO officials say they are watching the "Zapad-2017" ("West-2017") war games with "calm and confidence", but many are unnerved about what they see as Moscow testing its ability to wage war against the West.
Russia says the exercise is rehearsing a purely defensive scenario. (Reuters)
Putin, commander-in-chief of Russia's armed forces, has often appeared at such events in the past, using them to bolster his image among Russians as a robust defender of the country's national interests on the world stage.
Once the paratroopers and their vehicles have landed behind the lines of their simulated enemy, their task will be to wage war against what the defence ministry in a statement called "illegal armed formations" and to destroy their opponents' vital infrastructure and command centres. (Reuters)