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    NATO Buildup Went Unnoticed Amid Criticism of Russia-Belarus Drills - Moscow

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    Increasing military presence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Eastern Europe went unnoticed amid groundless criticism of the Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2017 military exercises scheduled for September 14-20, Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said Thursday.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — The September drills, announced in March, prompted concern from a number of Western countries, including Lithuania, which characterized them as preparation for war with the West.

    "We have stated that there was a lot of defamation around the Zapad drills which is absolutely unjustified. NATO's efforts to deploy more equipment on the eastern flank were unnoticed against this backdrop," Grushko said, after the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels, where NATO was briefed about the drills by the Russian side.

    Earlier on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance did not see any imminent threat posed against any NATO member by the drills. Stoltenberg added that NATO would take part in the inspection of the Zapad-2017 drills according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Vienna Document on security-building measures.

    At a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels earlier on Thursday, the Russian side informed the alliance of the Zapad-2017 exercises, while NATO members briefed on the upcoming Trident Javelin exercises.

    Moscow has repeatedly criticized the increased presence of the alliance’s troops and military facilities near the Russian border. Moscow has said Russia had never planned and does not plan to attack any NATO member.

    Zapad-2017 is a joint strategic exercise of the Russian and Belarusian armed forces scheduled for September 14-20, 2017.

    NATO exercises and deployments near Russia since 2014
    © Sputnik/
    NATO exercises and deployments near Russia since 2014

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    Zapad-2017, NATO, Alexander Grushko, Russia
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