Russian-Belarusian drills pose threat to Poland: defence minister
PR dla Zagranicy
Contrary to claims by Moscow, Russian and Belarusian war games scheduled near the Polish border later this month pose a “real danger” to Poland, Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said on Friday.
Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak
He added that “for the first time” the approaching Russian-Belarusian Zapad military exercises were "aggressive."
“They are not at all defensive, but aggressive and that’s dangerous,” Macierewicz told state television broadcaster TVP Info.
He also said the drills may see “incomparably more soldiers involved than permitted by the Vienna Convention and than the Russians are declaring themselves when they speak of only 12,500 troops.”
Macierewicz added: “According to information that has been reaching us, nearly 100,000 soldiers have been mobilised for these exercises.”
The Russian-Belarusian Zapad’17 maneuvers are scheduled to take place from 14 to 20 September.
According to official data, some 12,500 troops, including 3,000 from Russia, with 700 pieces of military equipment are to take part in the drills in Belarus, which Poland neighbours to the east, but Polish observers have said there might be many more.
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported last week, citing estimates by "Western officials and analysts," that "up to 100,000 military personnel and logistical support could participate in the Zapad (West) 17 exercise."
According to Macierewicz, there are also concerns that some of these troops will remain in Belarus after the exercises end.
“And they will significantly change the balance of power, the balance of power on NATO's eastern flank. That is why we treat these exercises as a real danger," Macierewicz said.
Macierewicz also said he hoped that more American troops will be stationed in Poland in the future and that "they will increase their presence as required by the geopolitical situation." (gs/pk)