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    Lithuania Expects Invitation to Observe Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 Drills

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    Lithuanian authorities expect to receive an invitation from Minsk to observe Russian-Belarusian joint military drills Zapad-2017, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said Friday.

    VILNIUS (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.

    On July 13, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the aliance does not see any imminent threat posed against any NATO member by the drills. He 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.

    Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said that NATO's 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.

    "Lithuania hopes that Belarus will invite the representatives of all neighboring countries and provide detailed information on the drills. Lithuania has not yet received the invitation to observe Zapad drills," the statement quoted by the Lietuvos zinios media outlet read.

    Zapad-2017 military drills, involving involve around 3,000 Russian troops, 280 pieces of hardware and up to 25 Russian aircraft, will take place on September 14-20 stretching from the Kola Peninsula in Russia's far northwest to Belarus.

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

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    military drills, Zapad-2017, NATO, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia
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