February 23, 2017 - Fort Russ News -
RIA Novosti - translated by J. Arnoldski -
The Minister of Defense of Belarus, Andrey Ravkov, has commented on reports on the deployment of a large number of Russian military vehicles to Belarusian territory as part of the West-2017 training exercises. Ravkov has called misleading reports alleging occupation “the hysteria of individual ‘experts.’”
Joint strategic war games involving the armed forces of Belarus and Russia, codenamed West-2017, will be held in September at several training polygons simultaneously.
Earlier, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite stated that these exercises are a “demonstrative preparation for war with the West.”
“The recent flood of hysteria by ‘experts’ over a supposed occupation of Belarus by Russian troops is nothing more than an attempt by marginal structures to gain political points or increase their ratings by exploiting the topic of Belarusian-Russian relations,” Ravkov is quoted as saying in an interview to SB. Belarus Today.
Ravkov recalled that according to the decision of both countries’ presidents, the “West” exercises are held every two years alternately in Belarus and Russia. He emphasized that Russia is a strategic ally with which Belarus is building a common defense space, and that the upcoming war games are one form of preparing a united defense group.
The Belarusian minister called Belarus and Russia’s military cooperation “one of the locomotives of development” of ties between the two countries. He remarked that it is in none other than this sphere that a level of cooperation has been achieved “that is as it should be between fraternal peoples.”
Ravkov stated that the West-2017 drills do not pose any threat to Belarusian sovereignty. According to him, the war game plans, the areas of their operation, and all troop movements are worked out and agreed upon with Belarus.
“There is no threat to Western states as well, since these exercises have a defensive character, are not aimed against third countries, and are only resolving tasks of strategic deterrence,” the minister stressed.
Concluding, Ravkov added that Belarus will remain open to its partners and will provide information to the public during the exercises.
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