NATO chief urges Russia to be ‘transparent’ on army drills near Polish border
PR dla Zagranicy
NATO’s secretary-general on Sunday called on Russia to “be fully transparent” amid major military manoeuvres planned near the Polish border later this month.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (left) is pictured visiting troops in Poland. Photo: NATO
“We have seen before that Russia has used big military exercises as a disguise or a precursor for aggressive military actions against their neighbours,” Jens Stoltenberg said.
“That happened in Georgia in 2008 when they invaded Georgia, and it happened in Crimea in 2014 when they illegally annexed Crimea. So we call on Russia to be fully transparent,” he told the BBC on Sunday.
He conceded that “every nation, also Russia, has the right to exercise its forces,” but “the problem is they are not doing that in a transparent way,” he said.
Stoltenberg also said that Russia must allow access to international observers under agreements governing exercises involving more than 30,000 troops.
He dismissed the Kremlin’s arguments that the upcoming Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 drills would not exceed this limit, saying that Russia has in the past been known to understate the number of exercising troops and use “loopholes in international agreements to avoid international observation.”
The Zapad 2017 drills are scheduled to run from September 14 to 20 in Belarus as well as on the Baltic Sea, in western Russia, and in Russia’s Kaliningrad region, close to the Polish border and those of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has warned -- while speaking in the country's parliament -- that the drills show that Russia is "preparing for an offensive war of continental proportions” and planning "a new assault group ... to strike Ukrainian territory."
Poland's Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz has said that, contrary to claims by Moscow, the Russian and Belarusian war games pose a “real danger” and that "nearly 100,000 soldiers have been mobilised for these exercises.” (gs/pk)
Source: PAP, IAR