WASHINGTON — The biannual Zapad military exercise, jointly run by Russia and Belarus, was closely watched this September by Western nations. And while there were some concerns that the movement could be a cover for aggressive action from Moscow, the exercise was completed without incident — and for those outside the region, largely faded from memory.
But for close NATO watchers, and especially the Baltic nations and Poland, seeing Russian forces operating up close provided some interesting threads to follow in the coming months.
“I think we gained some insight into things we knew they could do, but it just largely refreshed us in terms of knowing this is something that we have to work on,” said Jim Townsend, a longtime Pentagon Europe expert now with the Center for a New American Security think tank.
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