Zapad-2017 in Russia: Plane crashes, journalists attacked

The very first day of the Belarusian-Russian military exercise Zapad-2017 was marked by the incident with a Russian Tu-22 bomber in Kaluga region and the ‘loss’ of an army. Belarus’ Defense Ministry denied the ally’s statement on Russia’s First Guards Tank Army entering the country.

“All units of the Russian regional group of troops participating in the exercise “West-2017″ are already on the territory of Belarus and have started to perform tasks in the frame of the exercise. The arrival of other units of the Russian side is not planned,” Uladzimir Makarau, Spokesman for the Belarusian Defense Ministry, said.

On September 14, at the airfield Shaykovka (Kaluga region) aircraft Tu-22M3, for technical reasons, skidded off the runway in the performance of taxiing, military officials reported. Later it turned out that the crash was far more serious. The machine pulled the chassis off the runway and ended up on the stomach. The left half of the wing with a variable geometry broke off. The machine is irreparably damaged.

On Tuesday, a video of a Russian Ka-52 helicopter’s firing on journalists appeared on the Internet.

Russian state-run media were slow to report the incident, and the Russian Defense Ministry issued a strong statement.

“All social media reports about ‘shots at a crowd of journalists’ and a ‘large number of seriously injured people’ are nothing but a deliberate provocation or someone’s personal stupidity,” the statement reads.

According to independent media outlets, at least two people were wounded at the Luzhski training ground in Leningrad region. On September 18, Russian leader Vladimir Putin visited it to inspect the drills. The incident allegedly took place a day before his arrival, on September 17.

As the bomber was flying at a great pace, its pilot might have mistaked a target field for camouflaged vehicles, former Belarusian fighter pilot Lyavon Spatkay believes.

On September 16, during a training flight near the Borisoglebsk aerodrome a training-combat Yakovlev Yak-130 aircraft crashed. The crew successfully ejected.

Interestingly, it is the Russian military that contributed to all the extraordinary situations reported – plane crashes, the attack on journalists, the violation of NATO air boundaries. As for the Belarusian side, only one fault has been recorded – picking mushrooms, a local border guar violated the state border of Lithuania.

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