Comment by the Information and Press Department on compliance with transparency measures during preparation for West 2017 drills
The commotion in the Western press regarding the Russian-Belarusian military drills, West 2017, does not get weaker. The media go on reporting on the aggressive nature of the drills. Further references have been made that the number of troops and military vehicles involved in the drills has been intentionally lowered, and that transparency measures are not being duly complied with.
The joint strategic drills of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, West 2017, are of exceptionally defensive nature.
The total number of troops and vehicles does not exceed a level which is subject to obligatory supervision over specific types of military activity defined by a document signed in Vienna in 2011. Up to 12,700 soldiers (7,200- from the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, 5,500 – from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, with around 3,000 of them in the Republic of Belarus), around 70 jets and helicopters, up to 680 machinery units, including approximately 260 tanks, about 200 cannons, multiple rocket launch systems and grenade launchers and up to 10 ships are planned to be involved in the drills. This is far from the numbers which are thrown in by the media regarding the upcoming drills.
We would like to highlight that despite the real number of forces and means involved, the Republic of Belarus has proactively sent invitations to take part in monitoring of the active phase to representatives of international organisations (UN, OSCE, NATO, CIS, CSTO, ICRC), and military-diplomatic corps of foreign countries accredited in the Republic of Belarus and military supervisors from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Sweden and Norway. A corresponding briefing was held at the OSCE Forum. We salute the steps taken by Belarus.
On July 13, 2017, Russian military experts held a similar briefing at NATO’s headquarters. They thoroughly described the tasks that will be accomplished during the drills, the training fields where forces will be deployed and provided information about the manpower and tools that will be involved, including troops and the main armaments and machinery to be utilised.
Additionally, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, jointly with its Belarusian counterparts, plans to hold another briefing regarding this issue by the end of August for representatives of a military-diplomatic corps of foreign countries accredited in the Russian Federation.
The hype around the event is artificial and it has been designed to demonstrate to western society the “justification” of costly measures to deploy an enhanced forward presence and increase NATO’s military activity in Poland and the Baltic countries. We would like to emphasise that these specific actions by the West lead to the rising of military tensions in Europe, and exactly that which the Western brotherhood of “pen and microphones” demonstratively bemoan.