Putin aims to intimidate West with war games: Polish defence minister
PR dla Zagranicy
Russian and Belarusian war games that have started near the Polish border are designed to intimidate Warsaw and the West, Poland’s defence minister has said.
Antoni Macierewicz. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak
Russian President Vladimir Putin “wants to intimidate the West, intimidate Poland, but nothing will come of it,” Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said, referring to the military manoeuvres.
The Zapad 2017 drills, which were launched on Thursday, are scheduled to run until September 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.
Macierewicz also said the war games have been planned “so that from exercises they can move directly to combat operations.”
Asked by Polish state broadcaster TVP Info if such “combat operations” were possible, Macierewicz said: "I am convinced that political conditions do not allow it [but] military conditions do allow it."
Belarus has said the manoeuvres are strictly defensive and "do not pose a threat to the European community, in particular to neighbouring states."
But neighbouring countries are worried the exercises could be a precursor to military action against them.
The Russian defence ministry has said that about 7,200 Belarusian soldiers, some 5,500 Russian troops, up to 70 planes, 250 tanks, 10 battleships and various artillery systems will be involved in the exercises.
But Macierewicz said the number of troops taking part "is well above 100,000."