Russian-Belarusian war games pose risk, but Poland safe, says official
PR dla Zagranicy
A deputy defence minister said in Warsaw on Monday that Russian and Belarusian war games scheduled near the Polish border in September pose a risk, but added that Poland is safe.
Photo: ArmyAmber/pixabay.com/CC0 Creative Commons
Michał Dworczyk has previously said there are concerns about whether all of Russia’s military equipment will be withdrawn from Belarus after the seven-day exercises end on 20 September.
On Monday he told Polish Radio he hoped the exercises “will not have aggressive scenarios and nothing will happen that could result in any incidents.
"Though such large exercises as the Zapad manoeuvres of course always pose such a threat, a risk that some sort of incidents may happen," he added.
At a Warsaw summit in July 2016, NATO states decided to deploy four rotating battalions to the alliance’s eastern flank amid fears of Russian aggression following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014.
Dworczyk added that Warsaw will be "closely monitoring" the exercises in Belarus, as will the western military alliance.
According to official data, some 12,700 troops, including 3,000 from Russia, are to take part in the drills in Belarus, but Polish observers have said there might be many more.
Top Polish officials discussed the Zapad exercises with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Warsaw last week.
Ukrainian military expert Alexey Arestovich said earlier this year that Russia plans to threaten Poland and Lithuania with the “soft occupation” of Belarus during the war games.
“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.