Zapad 2021 Military Exercises

Belarusian Ministry of Defence announced this week that the Russian military has left Belarus after the Zapad 2021 joint military manoeuvers to return to their stations.

This finally concludes the Russia-Belarus exercises that took place on September 10-16. Despite the announced “defensive nature”, the drills’ scenario and the information campaign accompanying them signaled quite the opposite. Western countries were not invited to observe the manoeuvers but they involved the military from “friendly” states like Armenia and Kazakhstan, among others.

Major military drills are always used by the Kremlin as part of its information warfare, and Zapad 2021 was not an exception. The Kremlin-controlled media, as well as their proxies abroad actively pushed propagandistic messages promoting Russia’s military might to create information pressure.

Among the other key goals of the information campaign related to the exercises:

  • portraying them as defensive despite their clear offensive nature
  • promoting militarism under the pretense of counteracting the “hostile West”
  • showcasing a strengthening military alliance between Russia and Belarus, where Russia has an upper hand