“The targeting system on one helicopter mistakenly acquired a target,” the statement explained. “The strike by unguided rockets damaged a truck.”
“All reports on social media of salvos fired at a crowd of journalists and a large quantity of gravely injured people are intentional provocations, or somebody’s personal stupidity,” the statement said. It did not clarify whether anyone was wounded in the misfire.
The news portal said an unidentified witness had provided the video, and suggested the mishap at the Luzhsky firing range occurred either Sunday or Monday. A longer video posted by another news site, Fontanka, shows civilian cars and a military truck damaged by shrapnel.
Zapad 2017 is a revival of a Soviet-era training maneuver that once included forces from the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet military alliance whose members have now joined NATO. Today, only the armies of Belarus and Russia take part.
The exercises have raised fears in Belarus that the Kremlin intends to leave behind some of its forces, creating a permanent military presence there.
Tensions are also high across the border, particularly in the Baltic states, where defense planners recall that similar large scale war games were used as by Russia to cover preparations for the invasion of Crimea and the establishment of a separatist zone in eastern Ukraine.