Something to hide? Belarus Defense Ministry bars public from monitoring Zapad-2017

The Belarusian Defense Ministry will not let a public commission to monitor the Zapad-2017 war game.

As reported earlier, the initiative to establish such a commission was put forward by Andrey Dzmitryeu, a co-chair of the campaign “Tell the Truth”. Its aim is to make sure that the doctrine of the military exercise is merely very defensive and Belarus’ independence is not threatened.

There were seven people on the list of the would-be commission members: politicians and military experts, including analyst Alyaksandr Alesin.

“General Aleh Belakoneu took it as the desire to control him. We have no doubt of his military talents and skills. But public opinion would be important for the citizens of Western countries, for our neighbors,” Alesin says.

Minsk: Neighbours will see it for themselves

“We invited almost everyone, let them come and see,” president Lukashenka stated. In total, about 80 persons are expected to arrive (representatives of NATO, UN, CSTO, CIS, Red Cross, military departments of seven European countries, etc). About 150 journalists will cover the event. The figure is quite impressive, but only two NATO observers are allowed to monitor the war game – and only on the so-called visitor days.

“They will be shown only what the other side wants to show. They will be brought to the right place and the right picture will be presented to them. Despite the fact that the exercise is ificially transparent, many important things might not be exposed,” Alesin warns.

13,000 troops involved

According to the organizers, nearly 13,000 troops will be involved in the war game as well as 40 aviation equipment pieces, 140 tanks, 150 mortars and multiple rocket launchers and 10 ships. Formally, in according with the 2011 Vienna Document, in such a case a full-scale observation is not not required. But NATO officials question the figures above and make suggestions that 100,000 soldiers may take part in the maneuvers.

After Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic countries – nearest neighbours of the CSTO members – are striving for strengthening their military power with the help of NATO. Meanwhile, Ukraine itself is staying alert: separatists are getting ready for staging a military exercise in Donbas under Russia’s wing.

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