The Russian Armed Forces’ largest military exercise of the year, Kavkaz 2020, was held on September 21-23, in the southwestern part of the country (TASS, September 20). Although, officially, the Kavkaz maneuvers were presented as having nothing to do with Ukraine, some non-Russian experts warned that these massive drills could serve as a rehearsal for occupation of more Ukrainian territory or even as cover for a large-scale strike. Of particular concern was Ukraine’s Kherson region, which the Kremlin would need to control to unilaterally restore the water supply to drought-stricken occupied Crimea (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, May 21, June 2, 29, August 12; Defence.ua, April 8).
Cognizant of the need to demonstrate that Ukraine can credibly counter this possible aggression, Kyiv scheduled its own large-scale military exercise, Joint Endeavor 2020, with the active part beginning on September 22. According to Gen. Oleksiy Taran, the head of the Doctrines and Training Department of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF), the strategic command staff drills involved more than 12,000 military personnel and some 700 vehicles (Interfax, September 15).