Jitters in Europe as Russia-Belarus War Games Set to Begin

Jitters in Europe as Russia-Belarus War Games Set to Begin

Jitters in Europe as Russia-Belarus War Games Set to Begin

Cooperation with Russian Federation is central to the coalitional military policy of Belarus, BelTA learned from Vladimir Makarov, Head of the Information Office, Press Secretary of the Central Office for Ideology of the Belarusian Defense Ministry, on 15 September.

Russian and Belarusian war games that have started near the Polish border are created to intimidate Warsaw and the West, Poland's defence minister has said.

Russian leaders have called the criticism of their drills while larger exercises are being held outside their borders as an example of Western hypocrisy.

The Zapad-2017 has prompted Baltic states' and Poland's claims of the drills allegedly being a "threat" to their security.

Oleg Voinov, an adviser to the Belarusian Defense Minister, added: "We are not threatening anyone".

The exercise - code-named "Zapad-2017" (Zapad in Russian means "West") - is set to run through September 20th and tensions are spiking.

"The degree of mobilization is really impressive", Soloch said on private Radio Zet.

As said Vladimir Makarov, the defense Ministry of Belarus and Russian Federation has repeatedly and through various channels informed the parties concerned about the number of soldiers involved in the exercises.

Organizers have invented three "aggressor countries" - Veishnoriya, Lubeniya and Vesbasriya - to whose attacks the Russian and Belarusian militaries will simulate a response.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told NATO troops in Estonia last week that the alliance will be closely monitoring the war games.

Around 12,700 troops are taking part in the drills, of which 7,200 are from Belarus and the remaining 5,500 are from Russian Federation.

There is also unease in Kyiv, and Ukraine is now conducting its own military exercises, called "Unflinching Tenacity", scheduled to end Friday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said Zapad 2017 appears to be a "preparation for an offensive war on a continental scale". Over the past few days, Ukraine officials have reported that the Russian President has moved thousands of troops near the country's border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may visit one of the stages of these drills, he said. Russian Federation had leased a naval base in Crimea from Ukraine prior to its seizure, and used troops deployed there to quickly take over the Black Sea peninsula. "Russians will not seek confrontation, because they know that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be watching this event closely and is certainly ready to react", Kestutis Girnius, another Vilnius University political analyst, said.

Information for this article was contributed by David Filipov, Ishaan Tharoor and Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post; and by Yuras Karmanau of The Associated Press.

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