Exercise Zapad: Meaning, Countries, Significance

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 27, 2023, 20:20

Exercise Zapad is a two-week military program organized by Russia to train the military in combat against terrorists. This exercise was last held in 2021 at Nizhny, Russia with numerous participating countries. The Indian Army contingent also participated in the Zapad Exercise to enhance military ties with Russia and other participating nations.

Russia has conducted several editions of Exercise Zapad and is planning to conduct one in 2023 also. In this article, we have shared necessary information about this military exercise, including its history, significance, and objective.

Exercise Zapad 2023

Russia is planning to conduct Exercise Zapad in 2023, with the participation of several countries from around the world. This exercise is a part of the annual training for the Russian military. The aim of the Zapad Exercise is to train the military of Russia and other ally nations to strategically combat any terrorist attacks.

Several European and South Asian countries, including India, took part in the last edition of Exercise Zapad organized by Russia in 2021. Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, it is unclear as to which nations will participate in the exercise this year.

Zapad Exercise

Organized By



Two weeks

Zapad Meaning



To train the military to defend against any terrorist attacks

About Zapad

Exercise Zapad is one of the Russian Armed Forces' theater-level exercises, and it will primarily focus on counter-terrorism operations. In the last edition of this exercise, 17 countries from Eurasia and South Asia took part in the drill. A key goal of Zapad is to enhance anti-terror cooperation among nations.

While planning and executing the Zapad exercise, the goal is to strengthen military and strategic connections among the participating nations. Here are some highlights from the last military training exercise conducted by Russia in 2021.

Zapad 2021: Highlights

  • The Military Exercise Zapad 2021 was a two-week military program organized by Russia at Nizhny.
  • The drill took place in Nizhniy, Russia, from 3rd September to 16, 2021.
  • Zapad exercise is conducted on a theater level, and the primary motive of this exercise is to fight against terrorists.
  • The meaning of “Zapad” is“west”.

History of Zapad

The history of Zapad can be traced back to 1981 when the Soviet Union first organized this military exercise. Between 100,000 to 150,000 troops participated in this exercise, which lasted around eight days. Here are some important points about the history of Exercise Zapad.

  • Russia conducted the first Zapad Exercise in 1981, during the time of the Soviet Union.
  • It was the largest military exercise that the Soviet Union ever organized.
  • Since then, Russia has organized four other editions of Exercise Zapad, in the years 1999, 2009, 2017, and 2021.
  • It is believed that Russia will conduct Zapad in 2023 as well.
  • However, with Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine, it is quite uncertain if the military exercise will actually take place this year or not.

Zapad Exercise: Countries

Zapad is conducted by the Russian Armed Forces periodically to strengthen the world’s response and coordination against any terrorist attacks. Several countries have participated in Exercise Zapad in their previous editions. Some countries actually participate in training exercises while other countries simply observe.

Previously, the participating countries in Zapad Exercise were either from the Eurasia region or the South Asian Region. The primary aim of conducting this is to bring about military cooperation among the nations and strengthen the ties and mutual relationships among these countries. Here is a list of the participating and observing countries.

Exercise Zapad 2021: Participating Countries

  • Armenia
  • Belarus
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Mongolia
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Tajikistan

Zapad 2021: Observing Countries

  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam

Exercise Zapad: India’s Participation

India also participated in Exercise Zapad 2021. The members of the Indian army went through some rigorous training with Russian troops. The Zapad training involved everything that is usually a part of the operation that is carried on by military personnel.

  • A battalion of 200 army folks from the Sikh Li infantry was a part of this peace exercise organized in Russia.
  • Besides Zapad, India also took part in the exercise TSENTR 2019. This exercise is a part of the Russian Armed Forces' annual training cycle and is one of the yearly series of large-scale exercises.

Zapad Exercise: Significance

Exercise Zapad has become more routine over time, but it remains a vital display of military might to maintain Russia’s relations with other nations. The Zapad Exercise is a carefully chalked-out military exercise in which some nations participate, and some are invited as observers.

  • Zapad Exercise is relevant as it is conducted to bring about a sync in the training of all the participating nations.
  • It also aims to increase mutual understanding among countries.
  • The Russian General Staff uses annual strategic exercises like Zapad to develop military operational concepts and military and civilian integration.
  • Zapad also gives a chance to experiment with force organization, reserve mobilization, and logistics aspects.

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FAQs on Exercise Zapad

Q1. What is Exercise Zapad?

Exercise Zapad is a strategic military exercise conducted by Russia to improve international cooperation among nations against terrorist attacks. The last edition of Zapad was conducted in 2021 with several participating and observing nations.

Q2. How many countries participate in Zapad Exercise?

Nine countries participated in Exercise Zapad in 2021. The participating countries were Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Serbia, and Tajikistan. Eight other countries participated as observers in Zapad Exercise.

Q3. Which country will host the Zapad Exercise 2023?

Russia will host Zapad Exercise 2023. It is a military exercise conducted by Russia every few years to train militaries to improve their coordination. The main aim of Zapad is to train the military appropriately to tackle any terrorist combat.

Q4. Is India a part of Zapad?

Yes, India participated in Zapad Exercise in 2021. A battalion of 200 army folks from the Sikh Li infantry was a part of this peace-keeping exercise organized in Russia. India was among the nine participating nations in Zapad 2021.

Q5. What is the aim of the Zapad Exercise?

The primary objective of the Zapad Exercise is to enhance the military ties between the nations that are participating and improve the coordination of the military to tackle terrorist attacks. Zapad is conducted by the Russian Armed Forces, and numerous countries from around the world participate in or observe this exercise.

Q6. What is the meaning of Zapad?

The meaning of “Zapad” is “west”. Zapad is the name of a strategic military exercise organized by Russia periodically. The exercise is organized on the Western borders of Russia, with the participation of several countries from Eurasia and Southeast Asia.