Saturday 23 September 2017
“Linking the reduction in the number of [U.S. diplomatic] staff with the processing of [U.S.] visas does not stand up to scrutiny, since no one expelled the Americans, no one dictated or specified who to send home and who to leave. Accordingly, if Washington decides to reduce the number of people engaged in visa matters, it will be Washington’s decision -- sovereign, deliberate and by no means forced."The Russian Foreign Ministry’s claim that Moscow’s demand that the U.S. reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia by more than 60% will not affect the mission’s workflow is illogical and untrue. The sudden and involuntary staff shortage is disrupting all normal proceedings, including consular services.
“[Western analysts] have written that these exercises will become a prelude for deployment in Belarus for a new Russian military base with Iskander M missiles and Su-30 destroyers.”Since the Russian military used exercises near Georgia in 2008 and near Ukraine in 2014 as covers for invasions, apprehensions about Belarus are warranted.
"This is an open exercise and we invite or have already invited a huge number of observers. Please come and watch it."Despite such assurances from Lukashenka and other officials from Russia and Belarus, the likelihood of Zapad 17 being transparent is unlikely. Since 1991, Russia has declared that every military drill it has conducted has included just under 13,000, a threshold over which Moscow would be obligated to invite outside observers.
“Russia is not upholding her part of obligations in the Eurasian Economic Union”