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Russia may pose threat to Poland with war games in Belarus: expert

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 26.01.2017 16:19
Russia plans to threaten Poland and Lithuania with the “soft occupation” of Belarus during war games later this year, Ukrainian military expert Alexey Arestovich has said.
Russian armed forces men. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Vitaly V. Kuzmin.Russian armed forces men. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Vitaly V. Kuzmin.

“Poles... and with them Europeans will suddenly feel that war is not out there somewhere far away in Syria or in Donbass, but is right on their doorstep,” Arestovich said on Facebook on Thursday.

According to Arestovich, annual military exercises, like the Zapad (West) 2017 drills scheduled in Belarus for summer, have started wars in the past.

“With Caucasus 2008, Russia started a war with Georgia, during a training exercise,” the expert said, adding that the Caucasus 2012 exercises were aimed at the occupation of Crimea.

He also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have reasons for setting his 2017 war games in Belarus other than posing a direct or indirect threat to Poland.

One may be to force Ukraine’s army to mobilize on a third front, along its border with Belarus, weakening its military presence along its eastern and southern borders. This would also put further pressure on Ukraine’s military budget and economy and compromise the political situation.

Another may be to put a halt to work on the Intermarium, a planned partnership of countries between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas.

Regardless of the motive, Arestovich said the term “occupation” would not be used in reference to permanently stationing in Belarus at least some of the troops involved in Zapad 2017, because the country is part of a Union State with Russia.

He said the troops would remain to counter NATO’s increasing military presence along its eastern flank, as was decided at the alliance’s Warsaw summit in 2016. (vb/pk)

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