Russia is prepared to intervene militarily in Belarus, similarly to how it did in Ukraine, should the political situation in the former head in a direction unwelcome by Russia, Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) Gen. Riho Terras told ERR in an interview.
Why did Russia organize the Zapad military exercise together with Belarus, and how does this affect the operational capability of the Armed Forces fo Belarus?
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. The goal is to cripple Belarus' independent military capability.
Does that mean that Russia's goal is to secure its influence in any case in Belarus?
Similarly to Ukraine, Russia is planning on taking military steps against Belarus if the political situation in Belarus changes. 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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Minister of Defence Sergey Shoygu 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 this is clearly excessive.
Editor: Aili Vahtla