Russia brought more troops to participate in the West-2017 military drills than had been stated, and withdrew just a few of them after the exercise finished, Head of General Staff of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko told Reuters.
According to Muzhenko, Russia claimed that 3,000 soldiers would participate in the drills, but more of them came to Belarus.
“We had information that they had withdrawn only a few units of the declared 12,500 troops, of which 3,000 were Russians, but there were significantly more of them there,” he said.
He added that Russia withdrew a part of the troops to make it look like they were actually leaving.
“Russia demonstrated, and it was primarily a demonstration, the return of aviation units – they took off from the airfields and flew to airfields in Russia. But we understand that 300-400 km for aviation is a distance that can be overcome in a very short time,” he said.
The military exercise West-2017 was held in Belarus on September 14-20. During the drills, on September 16, two Russian military aircrafts Il-76 invaded the airspace of Lithuania. Later on, NATO confirmed that the claimed numbers of military participating in the drills, given by Russia and Belarus, were false, although it would take time to give precise estimates.
On September 28, Russia claimed to have withdrawn all troops from Belarus.