Estonia’s defense chief: Russia would intervene militarily in Belarus if needed
Russia is prepared to intervene militarily in Belarus, similarly to how it did in Ukraine, should the political situation in the former Soviet Republic head in a direction unwelcome by Russia, Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Gen. Riho Terras told ERR in an interview.
“The purpose of Zapad and other military and joint exercises is to tie the Armed Forces of Belarus as closely as possible to the Russian Armed Forces,” Gen. Terras said, according to EER, adding that the goal is to “cripple Belarus' independent military capability.”
Read alsoSenior NATO official says Zapad 2017 drills seen as preparation for "big war"“Similarly to Ukraine, Russia is planning on taking military steps against Belarus if the political situation in Belarus changes,” the Estonian defense chief said. “The Russian Armed Forces and security structures have prepared to intervene if necessary and launch a military operation in Belarus.”
The direction and planning of this operation began in 2014, according to the military official.
Read alsoUkraine's defense & security chief: Over 120,000 troops involved in Russia-Belarus war-gamesRussian President Vladimir Putin and Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu visited the Zapad exercise in Leningrad Oblast and claimed that this was simply an anti-terror exercise. Can you agree with this?
It is symbolic that Russian President Putin visited the exercise in Russia specifically, although it has been stressed that the main focus was on joint exercises in Belarus. The exercise included various defense areas, Baltic and North Sea fleets, missile forces and special operations. If this is all being done as an anti-terror operation, then it is clear that these efforts are “excessive,” Gen. Terras said.