>> Russia's biggest war game since 2013 starts on Thursday in Belarus, and many believe Moscow is testing its ability to wage war with the West. For a start, NATO fears that the exercises are much larger than Russia has declared, and involved some 100,000 troops and firing nuclear capable ballistic missiles.
Russia says only 13,000 will take part, and the nearly week long exercise is code name Zapad or west. NATO says, it is calm and vigilant as it watches from the Baltics, but it thinks Zapad may be a simulated conflict with the US led alliance. Showing Russia's power to mobilize mass troops at short notice.
Other Western officials, like US Army Chief in Europe, have voiced concerns that Zapad might even be a trojan horse to make incursions into Poland or Russian-speaking Baltic regions. The last large scale exercises in 2013 employed special forces training, longer range missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. A year later, those tactics were used to annex Crimea.
The Kremlin also accuses NATO of building up forces on its frontiers, as in the Cold War days. It says the West has nothing to fear from Zapad. But since Crimea and Russia's intervention in Syria's war, NATO is watching its military maneuvers warily.