NATO to discuss with Russia the true number of troops in Zapad-2017 exercises
The true number of Russian Army personnel that were involved in the recent Zapad-2017 exercises in Belarus will be discussed during the next NATO-Russia meeting, reported the German newspaper Welt, citing its sources in the headquarters of the Alliance.
“We will very clearly say that we are thinking about such actions,” the newspaper quotes the diplomat as saying.
The Alliance has serious reasons to believe that it wasn’t 12,700 soldiers that took part in the exercises – the number that Russia claims – but “several tens of thousands.” Included in the proof behind NATO’s assertion is satellite imagery.
If less than 13,000 people take part in maneuvers, the country conducting them has the right to not invite OSCE observers and other organizations. This is what was done.
After a pause in the NATO-Russia dialogue in connection with the annexation of the Crimea and Russia’s aggression in the east of Ukraine, the parties will meet this year for the third time. They will also discuss the security situation in Afghanistan, the Ukrainian issue, and steps to reduce the likelihood of incidents between the armed forces that different countries have deployed in Eastern Europe.
The Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2017 exercises took place on September 14-20. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov stated that Russia worked on how to use tactical nuclear weapons against members of NATO and Ukraine during the Zapad-2017 exercises.