Belarus: Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 military exercises pose no threat

The Russian and Belarusian Zapad 2017 drills planned for September pose no threat, and the media’s hype surrounding this event is baseless, said Igor Petrishenko, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia, in an interview for the TV channel Russia 24.

“In order to rehearse certain kinds of missions, originating from the evolving situation at the western and outer borders of the Union State, we must do the relevant training and drills. And so this hype which is building up is, in our view, completely baseless,” he said, adding that the drills are receiving close attention, despite the fact that they are regular.

The Zapad 2017 joint strategic exercises of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia will take place between the 14th and the 20th of September. It was noted that during their rehearsal of various scenarios, the Russian and Belarusian military will consider a situation related to the heightened activity of NATO close to the border of the Union State. The drills will involve three thousand military personnel from each side, and Russia will also provide roughly 280 pieces of equipment, including up to 25 flying machines.

A number of media outlets reported earlier that the Belarusian public and representatives of the opposition were concerned by the joint military exercises with Russia and the amount of weaponry scheduled for delivery. Ukraine and several Baltic states also see a threat in the drills being held so close to their borders.

In response, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that the West’s statements relating to the upcoming drills are unprecedented. He emphasized that Russia and Belarus are not “rattling sabers”. He did, however, observe that the drills must take place on a large scale and effectively in spite of the external pressure. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia does not intend to bring in forces or to occupy Belarus under the pretext of carrying out joint military exercises.

  Zapad 2017, Belarus, Military Exercises