Russian-Belarusian military exercises “West-2017” are completely peaceful and defensive in nature, and their name means Western part of Russia, not the West, in an interview with Deutsche Welle was told by the Deputy Minister of defence of Russia Alexander Fomin.
“The name “West” should not be understood in a political sense as a geographical term, which includes the countries of the West, EU and NATO members. The name “West” means West of Russia and Belarus, which is located farther to the West,” — said Fomin.
On the question of whether, because of the teachings the people of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States sleep, Fomin replied in the affirmative. “And I say this seriously,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, the Minister of internal Affairs of Latvia Richard Kozlowski urged residents of the country during the Russian-Belarusian exercises “West-2017” to be active and alert. “We need to survive this week. I hope we can do it, Russia will finish these exercises, and no escalation will not” — said Kozlovskis.
Also their concern about the upcoming maneuvers was expressed by Ukrainian politicians. So, on August 16 the Minister of defence of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak said that Kyiv is foreseen measures in case of invasion of the Russian army. He added that what is happening on the borders of Ukraine Kiev is regarded as an unfriendly steps. Secretary of Council of national security and defense Council (NSDC) Oleksandr Turchynov expressed confidence that the Russian army will continue the attack on Poland and Lithuania.
Russian and Belarusian officials stress that the maneuvers are not aggressive in nature. The Minister of defense of Belarus Andrei Ravkov called speculation about the relocation of Russian military equipment attempt “of some marginal structures to gain political dividends or to increase your rating due to the exploitation of the topic of the Belarusian-Russian relations”.
Exercises “West-2017” will be held from 14 to 20 September 2017 on the territory of Belarus and in the area of responsibility of the Western military district in Russia. Similar joint exercise was conducted in 2009 and 2013.