By Paul Goble
A man from the Belarusian city of Vitebsk, a city not far from the Russian border, has posted on Facebook pictures showing Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms there something that will undoubtedly exacerbate existing fears that Moscow will use the upcoming Zapad-2017 military exercises to carry out regime change in Minsk.
The blogger, who uses Drug Syabar as his screen name, says that in the photographs, one can see that “Russian soldiers are already beginning to arrive for the so-called military exercises. The arriving troops are beginning to take locations throughout all cities. But there are also appearing people with automatic weapons in military uniforms bearing no distinguishing marks”(facebook.com/DrugSyabarPS/posts/1965479527068878)
The pictures also have been reported and described, in among other places, at newvv.net/ukraine/253991.html, profi-forex.org/novosti-mira/novosti-sng/belarus-/entry1008309440.html, and dsnews.ua/world/v-belarusi-poyavilis-rossiyskie-zelenye-chelovechki-s-avtomatami-27072017162600).
Given that such people became known as “the little green men” who led Russia’s invasion forces in Ukraine, such reports from Belarus now will only intensify existing fears about Russia’s intentions in Belarus even if it turns out as may be possible that those pictured are simply support elements for Russian forces rather than a genuine invasion force.