Ukraine and member countries of the NATO’s eastern flank are concerned about West 2017, the Russian military exercise slated for September in Belarus. Ben Hodges, the U.S. Army Europe commanding general said that as quoted by Reuters.
‘People are worried, this is a Trojan horse. They say, 'We're just doing an exercise,' and then all of a sudden they've moved all these people and capabilities somewhere,’ Hodges said.
According to him, NATO diplomats point out to the fact that Russia already used similar tactics while annexing Crimea, starting the armed aggression in Donbas and Syria. Some of the U.S. allies maintain the Russian drills might include trainings in handling the nuclear weaponry.
Hodges added that the U.S. allies will be closely watching the deployment and movement of Russian military vehicles in Belarus. He added so far it is groundless to say that Russia definitely plans to switch to more aggressive actions.
According to the U.S. General, ‘United States and its allies had been very open about a number of military exercises taking place across eastern Europe this summer involving up to 40,000 troops, but it remained unclear if Moscow would adhere to a Cold War-era treaty known as the Vienna document, which requires observers for large-scale exercises involving more than 13,000 troops’.
The West 2017 drills are planned for September 2017; the armed forces of Russia and Belarus are going to perform jointly, involving up to 100,000 military men in total.