HS: Large-scale Russian military exercises begin close to Finland

Russia’s military exercises, under the name of Zapad-2013 (West-2013) are centre-stage in mainstream Finnish media today as daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat devotes almost a full page to the topic. The byline reads “The joint Russian and Belorussian military exercises begin along their western borders”, and the article goes on to detail the level of forces involved: 10,000 Belorussian soldiers, 3,000 Russian ones as well as 20,000 from the special interior ministry group known by its Russian abbreviation of OMON. A Finnish army expert is quoted: “In exercises like this far more is on the move than just soldiers of regular armed forces.” An accompanying map and infographics summarise the numbers involved – 33,000 armed personnel, 250 combat vehicles and 60 helicopters and aeroplanes – and highlight the exercise grounds: the ‘Western Military Zone’ of most of European Russia and all of Belarus, the Baltic Sea around Gotland and the Barents Sea.

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