The Ministry of Defense (MoD) released brief footage of the robots being battle-tested during the exercise, with Russian state media describing that "Robotic Russian fighting machines fired anti-armor missiles and let rip with mounted flamethrowers on Monday, while their operators sat in safety away from the battlefield, in colossal drills attended by President Vladimir Putin."
One of the two models in the exercise was the Uran-9 armored fighting vehicle, which looks like a small conventional tank, and utilizes laser sensors to hone in on targets, and can be outfitted with rockets or large guns, and even a flame-thrower.
The other model is called the Nerekhta combat robot, which has a purpose of going to places near or behind enemy lines where it's too dangerous to send regular infantry forces. One Russian military official described that the Nerekhta is "designed to perform reconnaissance tasks, direct fire on enemy positions, and quickly deliver ammunition and equipment."
The pair of robots unleashed fire on a simulated enemy during the Zapad-2021 exercises. Russia is rumored to have actually deployed robotic fighting vehicles during prior years in the Syria war, though there's yet to be footage or confirmation of this.
In footage released by the Russian military, the robots maneuvering amidst a large battlefield scene looks like something straight out of The Terminator.
Zapad-2021 kicked off last Friday, and is mainly taking place at over a dozen bases and ranges mostly on Russian and Belarusian soil. Considered the largest joint war games to take place in Europe in decades, it involves up to 200,000 troops - including elite paratroopers - nearly 800 tanks, and 15 warships plus 80 aircraft.