MINSK, August 29. /TASS/. Belarus has been viewing the military exercises conducted by NATO member states adequately and sees them as no threat to the national security, Belarusian Deputy Defense Minister and Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Oleg Belokonev said at a briefing on Tuesday.
"Belarus sees no threat to the national security in that. Our approach is absolutely adequate," he said.
According to Belokonev, "NATO has been conducting military drills one after another, particularly exercising the use of military force in close proximity to the Belarusian border." "In other words, they have been exploring a new battleground," the Belarusian deputy chief of staff noted.
He elaborated that the number of drills taking place in the region had doubled in the past eight years, while the number of involved troops had increased by more than four times. "In 2009-2014, NATO conducted an average of 41 drills a year, while in 2016, the number was 83, and in 2017, as many as 85 military exercises are planned to be held," Belokonev said. Besides, in his words, in 2009-2014, NATO military drills involved around 38,000 troops, but in 2016, the number reached 121,700. "In 2017, around 120,000 troops are expected to participate in military exercises," the Belarusian deputy defense minister added.
He particularly mentioned NATO’s 2016 Anaconda drills, which "were the largest military exercises held in Europe since the end of the Cold War." According to the Belaruain deputy chief of staff, the Anaconda drills involved 24 countries. "In every respect, last year’s drills were larger than the Zapad-2017 drills - there were two-times more troops, 4.5 times more weapons and military hardware," Belokonev said.
While speaking about the goals of the drills, he said that the Anaconda military exercises "were clearly hostile, they stipulated using surveillance systems, deploying troops close to the Belarusian border and exercising offensive techniques." At the same time, in Belokonev’s words, "there was no such hype in Belarus [as compared to the West’s response to the upcoming Russian-Belarusian drills - TASS]."