A senior US general said Monday that he believed controversial Russian military exercises last month involved “more than 40,000” troops, vastly more than Moscow acknowledged, but the event did not involve a simulated nuclear strike. General Ben Hodges, commander of US ground forces in Europe, said Russia split up the Zapad-2017 (West-2017) drills into smaller events to flout international agreements

on reporting military exercises. The Russian defence ministry said the joint drills with Belarus on NATO’s eastern flank involved just 12,700 troops and were “strictly defensive” in nature, but the show of strength caused consternation in Poland and the Baltic states, which only broke free of the Kremlin’s grip some 25 years ago. “My guess is that there probably were over 40,000 service members in this whole-of-government exercise,” Hodges told reporters. READ MORE