08:12 GMT +323 January 2020
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    Lithuania observers will attend Russian-Belarusian joint military drills Zapad-2017, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said Friday.

    VILNIUS (Sputnik) — Lithuania will send its military inspectors to observe Russian-Belarusian joint military drills Zapad-2017, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said Friday.

    "The Ministry of Defense received an invitation on Friday from the Ministry of Defense of Belarus, addressed to all accredited foreign defense attaches, to take part in the monitoring program for the Belarus-Russia strategic exercises Zapad-2017 in Belarus," the ministry's press service said.

    According to the press service, the monitoring program includes a presentation of the exercises by the Belarus Defense Ministry, visiting a training facility and departments engaged in organizing the drills.

    "We hope that the observers will have an opportunity to get acquainted with all the most important elements of the Zapad-2017 drills," the ministry added.

    The September's drills, announced in March, prompted concern from a number of Western countries, including Lithuania.

    On July 13, 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.

    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.


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    drills, observers, NATO, Lithuanian Defense Ministry, OSCE, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania
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