Ex­er­cise in in­tim­i­da­tion

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

Rus­sia is plan­ning to con­duct the mas­sive Za­pad 2017 mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in Be­larus from Sept. 14 through Sept. 20, with up to 13,000 troops.

Ac­cord­ing to the sce­nario of the ex­er­cises, fic­tional “West­ern” coun­tries are ex­pected to oc­cupy north­west­ern Be­larus and cre­ate the state of “Viejs­no­ryja” there – a name that is al­ready an ironic In­ter­net meme.

But it’s no laugh­ing mat­ter. Rus­sia may use the ex­er­cises to make Be­laru­sian dic­ta­tor Alexan­der Lukashenko more pli­able, and in­tim­i­date neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. There are fears that it could or­ga­nize a provo­ca­tion on the Be­laru­sian-Ukrainian bor­der. Rus­sian dic­ta­tor Vladimir Putin has also ini­ti­ated leg­is­la­tion to de­ploy Rus­sian anti-air­craft weapons on Be­larus’ bor­der with Ukraine.

Mean­while, Ukrainian cit­i­zen Ihor Hryb said on Aug. 27 that his son Pavlo, who was wanted by Rus­sia’s Fed­eral Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (FSB) in a fab­ri­cated ter­ror­ism case, had gone to Be­larus and had been kid­napped by the FSB. Be­larus has con­firmed that he had crossed the bor­der. If the in­for­ma­tion on the kid­nap­ping is con­firmed, Be­larus can no longer be viewed as a neu­tral coun­try, or even a fully sov­er­eign one.

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