The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff has hedged against Russia’s possible attack on Ukraine during the Zapad-2017 war game, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak told journalists on Wednesday.
“We are monitoring the situation. We are aware of all the movements of Russian troops along our border. We realize which threats may arise, and we are going to adequately respond to both the existing threats and the threats posed by the war game,” he said.
According to the Minister, the General Staff has envisaged a number of mesures to respond to those threats.
Poltorak stressed that he was referring to a threat of invasion.
“By the way, such a threat is not ruled out in general, not in particular case of the exercise. But the it is potentially threatening because a great number of troops are moving to the Ukrainian border as part of the military exercise in the territory of Belarus,” he added.
The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 scheduled for September, 14-20 is supposed to demonstrate ‘persistence in efforts to ensure security of the two brotherly nations’. Such exercises are held in Belarus and Russia interchangeably every two years. In September, there will be about 10,000 troops involved in the exercise in the Belarusian territory (7,200 – the Belarusian Armed Forces and about 3,000 – the Russian Army).
At the same time, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite and a number of European politicians believe that the ‘West-2017’ demonstrates the preparation of Belarus and Russia to the war with the West. In mid April, Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, stressed that the joint military exercise might become the preparation for an assault against Ukraine in September.
ІІ, belsat.eu, following UNIAN