The joint Russian-Belarusian West-2017 war game may become the preparation for an assault against Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, said on Thursday.
According to him, Ukraine should not rule out the possibility of Russia’s secretly paving the way for carrying out a strategic offensive operation is the course of their preparation for the West-2017 in September.
“There is every reason to believe that the Russian military forces could stay in Belarus even after the active phase of the exercise,” Turchynov said at the opening ceremony of the Kyiv-Mohyla business school titled ‘Strategic Leadership: the Security and Defense Sector of Ukraine’.
In his opinion, Russia continues preparing for a full-scale war, expanding its military might and actively increases its army personnel. Vladimir Putin had issued a decree to increase the number of Russian military personnel up to almost 1.9 million people starting from July 1 this year, Turchynov stressed.
According to the NSDC secretary, the Russian Federation is also strengthening its positions in the territories beyond Ukraine’s control in the east of Ukraine. There are up to 30,000 militants in Donbas, their number is planned to be increased to 50,000, he stated.
The West-2017 war game is scheduled for September, 14-20. It will be the final stage of the joint training of the armed forces of the two countries this year.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite believes that the ‘West-2017’ demonstrates the preparation of Belarus and Russia to the war with the West. Some Belarusian experts repeatedly raised concerns similar to those of Turchynov. In turn, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka and defense minister Andrey Raukou stressed that there would be no threat to the sovereignty of Belarus or other states. They promised to fully control the movement of Russian troops in the territory of Belarus.