MOSCOW, 23 June (BelTA) – Claims that Russian troops will stay in Belarus after the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 are complete nonsense, BelTA learned from Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov on 23 June.
Sergei Lavrov said: “We've been hearing wailing and lamentation about Belarusian-Russian army exercises for years now. We are preparing for the Zapad 2017 exercise at the moment. We had the Shchit Soyuza 2015 [Union Shield] exercise a couple of years ago. We heard the same moaners claiming that Russian troops will enter the country for the exercise only to stay there forever and occupy Belarus. I can hardly imagine a bigger load of nonsense especially from the mouths of politicians, who claim to command respect in the European Union.”
Sergei Lavrov noted that such rumors had been repeatedly refuted by the Russian side and Belarus' leaders. “Our colleagues from the North Atlantic Alliance know perfectly well that they are invited to observe the exercise,” he reminded. “The exercise will be staged in a transparent manner just like all the previous Belarusian-Russian army exercises. Multiple presentations of the army exercises involving the Russian Federation and its allies and partners have already been held in the Russia-NATO council. We try to do everything necessary to maintain a normal atmosphere in Europe, to build up trust, prevent the situation from deteriorating, prevent an increase in some confrontational trends. While we make all these preparations, NATO infrastructure is getting pushed closer to our common borders, new units are being deployed under the guise of continuous rotation, which means permanent deployment in every practical sense. We understand perfectly well that pretenses used to justify such actions are far-fetched,” said Sergei Lavrov.
The Russian minister of foreign affairs added that the Belarusian-Russian united army group has everything necessary to prevent any provocations from undermining the security of the two countries.
The Russian minister of foreign affairs gave an interview to Belarusian mass media on the occasion of the 25th anniversary since the establishment of Belarusian-Russian diplomatic relations.More about Politics