"Russia is ready to cooperate with the new US Administration, it is important to normalize and develop bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis. Cooperation between Russia and the United States in addressing global and regional issues is in the interest of the whole world. We share responsibility for ensuring international security and stability," ...Putin in his annual Federal Assembly address.


Okay, for the sake of examining where cooperation might lead between the new Administration and Putin, let's say that there are some months of a honeymoon period.  That would be fine, but the light we see is really on-coming trains. 


This past week Belarusian press reported that Russian has requested transit for 4126 rail cars for 2017.  Most likely this is for the planned Russian major exercise, Zapad 2017 in August or September.  In the pattern of past Zapads, this would be an exercise of the Russian plan for the Baltic fight with NATO.


Based upon the number of trains that were used in Zapad 2013, the last major exercise in Belarus, Zapad 2017 could be twice as large as four years previously.  That means we could see as many as 100,000 troops moving into Belarus.  


In a recent exercise, Kavaz 2016, the Russians include the mobilization of some parts of industry and the financial sector.  Very likely that pattern will follow in Zapad 2017.


Even if the honeymoon were to last for six months, it is hard to believe it would survive what will look like at the time as preparation for an invasion of the Baltic States.  The lights at the end of the tunnel are trains.

Framework for Zapad 2017

Building from Zapad 2013, this is the likely framework for Zapad 2017, along with the likely missions in the Russian plan for the re-invasion

Zapad 2017 Scenario,18426039551 2November 2016

Google Translated

Scenario exercises Zapad-2017 take into account the increased activity of NATO forces near the borders of the Union State of Russia and Belarus - announced on Wednesday in Minsk, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Exercises will be held in September next year.-In The work on the concept and scenario exercises (Zapad-2017) will be considered a situation associated with increased activity of NATO near the borders of the State Związkowego- minister said, quoted by Russian news agency TASS.

"The main event for the Russian Aerospace Force this year will be its participation in the Zapad-2017" (West-2017) joint Russia-Belarus drills."