Joint military exercises of Russia and Belarus will not be preparing to invade Ukraine. This, according to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko assured the head of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.
Poroshenko said that he had “no doubt in an exceptionally good intentions of Belarus”. However, due to the fact that Minsk has good relations with Moscow, it was necessary to obtain such assurances, said the Ukrainian President.
“And so for me it was extremely important that I received from the head of the Belarusian state solid assurance that the planned Russian-Belarusian strategic exercises “West-2017″ near the Ukrainian border will turn to the preparation of the Russian bridgehead for the invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian land from the territory of Belarus”, — said Poroshenko during a speech, the TV channel “112 Ukraine”.
Last week Secretary of the national security and defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said that Russia is preparing for “full-scale war.” In his opinion, this training threatens not only Ukraine but also countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
Turchinov, referring to the estimates of military experts, said that the goal of Russia in the exercise “is to test readiness of Russian troops to conduct operations from regional to large-scale limited wars in terms of reducing time for their strategic training”. He suggested that the Russian military after the completion of all activities can remain in Belarus, passed the “112 Ukraine”.
Foreign policy has repeatedly expressed concerns about the upcoming exercises. In mid-February, the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite said that “the West-2017” will show Russia preparing for war with the Western countries.
The Minister of defense of Belarus Andrei Ravkov have called “hysteria” assumptions of politicians and experts. He recalled that the exercises are held every two years, alternately on the territories of Belarus and Russia. Ravkov explained that “the doctrine is defensive in nature, not directed against third countries and only solves the problem of strategic deterrence.”
Exercises “West-2017” will be held from 14 to 20 September. They will involve about 3 thousand Russian soldiers and about 280 pieces of equipment, reports TASS. Raukou informed that the exercise will take part not more than 13 thousand people.