WARSAW (Sputnik) — The opening ceremony of the largest military exercises in Poland dubbed DRAGON-17 took place earlier on Wednesday at the training ground in Zegrze near Warsaw.
According to the Polish Defense Ministry, some 17,000 soldiers and 3,500 vehicles will participate in the drills, which are expected to last until September 29. In addition to the country's own military, Poland's NATO allies from the United States, Lithuania, Latvia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Slovakia, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, as well as Georgia and Ukraine which are seeking to join the alliance, are set to take part in the exercises.
"All branches of the armed forces will be involved in these exercises. Coordination and cooperation with the navy and air force will also be practiced. Territorial defense troops participating in the exercises for the first time will defend runways and act as divisions that support the actions of other troops," Poland’s Deputy Minister of National Defense Michal Dworczyk told reporters.
The DRAGON-17 drills come following the Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 strategic military exercises that concluded last week. Those exercises involved about 12,700 servicemen, including up to 5,500 from Russia and about 7,200 from Belarus. The Russia-Belarus drills have been highly criticized by a number of NATO states.