RIGA, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - Latvia is to hold large-scale military exercises next summer, in response to the Russian-Belarusian strategic exercises, held in September, the Latvian TV3 channel reported.
The TV channel quoted Latvian Defense Minister Imants Liegis as saying the decision to hold the drill was already taken, although it had not been yet set what military units would be involved.
The Russian-Belarusian drill, called Zapad (West) 2009, was held on September 18-29, involving about 12,500 service personnel, 40 aircraft and 200 pieces of military equipment.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the plan for the exercises, which was developed in the late 1990s in a bid to achieve greater political, economic and military integration between the two neighbors, was "purely defensive."
However, the Baltic States expressed their concern over the drill. The Latvian defense minister claimed the exercise scenario concentrated on attacking the Baltic countries.