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West 2017 drills through the eyes of Belarus President and foreign observers

The military exercise "West-2017" was completed. Alexander Lukashenko, as President of the country and as Supreme Commander-in-Chief, assessed them as perfect. Cautious neighbors watching the movement of Russian troops should also be content since soldiers, tanks and planes are leaving Belarus and returning to places of permanent deployment. Yevgeny Pustovoy reports.

These are the last voices of the "West-2017" drills. But instead of weapons the military personnel hold tools in their hands. The last goal is peaceful: to firmly fix the machinery. Ahead is a long way home - to the Moscow region.

Yevgeny Pustovoy, political commentator:
Mythical Veyshnoria no longer exists on the maps of the Ministry of Defense. No more Russian soldiers on Belarusian training grounds. The drill is complete. The First Tank Army occupied the railway platforms and is ready for departure.

"West-2017" goes down in history, and our closest allies return to the points of permanent deployment.

Even the ordinary process of packing suitcases, or rather backpacks and equipment, was made solemn by the Belarusian side.

Belarus insisted on the fact that everything would be transparent and fair during the drills and that the Russian army would leave Belarus after the exercise. Belarusians do not throw words to the wind - regardless of the wind rose.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
The attempt to discredit [the drills], frankly speaking, was extremely unprofessional. Therefore, it is uncomfortable to comment it. It is already understood by those who probably did this.

All troops will be in places of permanent deployment - where they were, both Belarusian and Russian. If we need to attract our fellow Russians to help, this will be done, as you saw, instantly. And we are practicing these things during these exercises, we are not hiding it.

In Europe, the Belarusian army is one of the most capable, and our doctrine is peaceful. Other countries protect the sovereignty with the help of foreign mercenaries and contingents. But even the planned drills of the Belarus-Russia union group causes some phobias in the west. Although Belarus has become a home for hundreds of thousands of people who are restless on their land.

Lithuanian communist Cheslav Vysotsky saw his native land and his native wife refuse from him. He linked his future with the future of Belarus. He found his shelter under the roof of a Belarusian boarding house.

Cheslav Vysotsky, a guest of the Republican boarding school for veterans of war and labor:
It does not have anything in common with common sense: Belarus has never attacked first. As I know from history, attacks were from the West - Drang Nach Osten. This line continues all the time. And now too.

Under international agreements - the Vienna Convention - Belarus had the right not to invite observers. This is because the drills were not of a large scale. But still Belarus did open their borders and invited foreign observers.

Robin Mossinkkoff, observer of the West-2017 exercise from the OSCE:
This exercise is an example of transparency. Belarus demonstrated how such events should be conducted. You showed how to make sure that observers have the opportunity to receive objective information. I am grateful to the Belarusian side for inviting international organizations, including the OSCE.

Massimo Fogari, observer of West-2017 (Italy):
These were professional exercises. I saw Belarusian and Russian soldiers, how they interacted, I can note their excellent preparation. I am a brigadier general, and believe me: I know a lot about such exercises.

80 military attaches and experts could be anywhere at all days of the drills.

For the sake of objective coverage of the drills Belarus accredited dozens of foreign media outlets. All in all - 270 people - a tactical battalion by the standards of NATO.

Saint-Pierre Raymond, Chief of the Radio Bureau "CBC" (Canada):
Bang-bang, it was beautiful. Belarus invited many observers and journalists. Here is the Red Cross. It is very important that the drills are open.

Steven Derix, journalist of the newspaper NKC Handelsblat (the Netherlands):
This is a very impressive drill, because you shoot for real. I'm even a little scared. I have to be vigilant all the time. Yes, it's impressive!

German correspondents, after the drills, asked the Belarus President what plans Belarus has in military terms.

Alexander Lukashenko:
We are not an aggressive state. We have suffered so much from the war (WWII). And you too. Although you fought against us. You, Germans, also drank this grief. Therefore, you do not want to fight, I think. We do not want to fight at all.

Therefore, as the first president of an independent, sovereign country, I want our people to understand that if something happens, we do have capabilities to protect families, children, and wives. I want ordinary human security to which all states aspire. You do not expect any attack from us - either in Germany, or in Poland, or in the Baltic countries, or in our brotherly Ukraine. This is a Slavic state, this is our country, our brothers live there. How can we fight against them?

Yevgeny Pustovoi:
The brightest moments of the exercises are the work of aviation, artillery, tanks, and special operations forces. The Belarusian army even has its own medical special forces.

Since 2000, not a single Belarusian soldier was injured during exercises, not counting acute respiratory diseases.

Maxim Solopov, special correspondent of the newspaper Kommersant:
Not so many countries have competencies in the aviation industry. The fact that they are preserved here, as often happens in neighboring countries... Those resources are small, compared to Russia, which went to Belarus after the collapse of the Soviet Union, are maintained in the most effective condition.

Victor Litovkin, military commentator, writer:
The workshops themselves, the modern production lines, 3D printing of details...In general, the plant leaves a very pleasant impression.

Russian journalists were shown both a training war and a real picture of Belarusian peace. From factories to museums.

The strategic battles "West-2017" took the territory from the Baltic water area to the Berezina River. And it was Belarus who was at the center of those events, as it always was in the history of wars.

Alexander Lukashenko:
It is better to demonstrate than to fight. We did not conceal this demonstration from anyone, we demonstrated the abilities of our armed forces, Russia and Belarus, our joint grouping on the defense of our union and the interests of our states.

These drills were not like Potemkin Villages, as many say. These were absolutely applied exercises - the way it could be in the real situation (God forbid, of course). We are not going to attack anyone. But if we are slapped in the face, we will answer. You saw it.

West 2017 drills through the eyes of Belarus President and foreign observers