Russia is staging war games in Belarus in September, but US officials and US allies in the area are concerned the country's real aim is to bring military equipment into the country and leave it there. "People are worried this is a Trojan horse. They say, 'We're just doing an exercise,' and then all of a sudden they've moved all these people and capabilities somewhere," the head of US Army forces in Europe tells Reuters. He says NATO officials will be watching the Zapad 2017 exercise closely for that reason. Some allies think the exercise will involve nuclear weapons training and could utilize more than 100,000 troops, which would make it the largest such exercise since 2013, the Guardian reports.
The official did note that there are no indications Russia really is planning such a "trojan horse," but called for more transparency from the country as to the size and scope of the war games in order to ease concerns. A senior Russian diplomat says Moscow has no plans to leave military equipment in Belarus, and says the concern from NATO is just "artificial buffoonery" over routine war games that is "aimed at justifying the sharp intensification of the NATO bloc (activities) along the perimeter of Russian territory." NATO is also keeping a close eye on war games in the Baltic Sea taking place July 24-31; Chinese warships were to join the Russian navy there Friday. (Read more Russia stories.)