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    Ukraine Adjusts Army Training Plan Due to Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 Drills

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    Kiev has made adjustments to the existing training plan for the country's armed forces due to the upcoming Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 military drills, Ukraine's Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko said Friday.

    KIEV (Sputnik) — Russia-Belarus joint military drills, dubbed Zapad-2017 ("West-2017"), are scheduled for September 14-20. The exercise will bring together about 12,700 servicemen (including 5,500 Russians), about 70 planes and helicopters, up to 680 units of military equipment, including about 250 tanks, up to 200 guns, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and 10 ships.

    "With the aim of securing an adequate response to external threats, particularly those linked to the Zapad-2017 drills, the training program for the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the current year has been adjusted. The aim of these efforts is to increase the readiness for a potential aggravation of the military and strategical environment around Ukraine," Muzhenko said, as quoted by the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

    In late August, First Deputy Minister of Defense of Belarus Maj. Gen. Oleg Belokonev said that assumptions about the possibility of aggression against Ukraine from Belarus during Zapad-2017 were "ridiculous."

    Over the recent weeks, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko repeatedly stated that these exercises would be open for foreign observers. The Defense Ministry of Belarus earlier reported that observers from seven countries — Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Norway — were invited to the event.

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