In connection with Zapad 2017, Russia said that the exercise was about training defensive maneuvers. BILD has an article that claims otherwise:
However, BILD recently spoke to two leading analysts from a western intelligence service who revealed that Zapad 2017 was neither an “anti-terror exercise” nor “purely defensive”, but a “dry run” for a “full-scale conventional war against NATO in Europe”.
I don’t think this should come as any surprise. In fact, from a Russian point of view an offensive move is the only approach that makes sense in case of a war. So it is fully meaningful that they would train how to turn a defensive action into an offensive.
The rest of the article is a good account of how such a war may pan out, and how Russia could use their weapons. It is well worth the read for this alone.
The most interesting part, though, I think was this bit explaining what could lead to a war in the first place:
One of the sources explained to BILD what a trigger for such events could be. “I am always asked, is this an offensive or a defensive operation? The answer is, it is an escalation operation”. So-called “coloured revolutions”, for example in Belarus or other post-Soviet states, could lead to the war that was trained in Zapad 2017. “Such a revolution, which would of course be ‘a plot by the CIA’, according to them, could get Russia involved. If the US or another NATO country then gets involved, this could be the starting point for the scenario they trained for in September”.
I think that’s exactly right. Only I’d add that a color revolution in Russia itself is also a real possibility that could be extremely dangerous.