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    ZAPAD- 2013

    NATO to Send Experts to Massive Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 War Games

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    Amid several eastern European states' claims that the planned Russia-Belarus drills Zapad (West) allegedly pose a threat to their security even before the war games have even started, NATO decided to send its experts to observe the exercise.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – NATO will send three experts to the upcoming Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 military exercises, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

    The decision to send experts comes following invitations from Russia and Belarus.

    Previously, Stoltenberg said that the alliance does not see any imminent threat posed against any NATO member by the drills. However, a number of NATO member states located in eastern Europe, including Poland and Lithuania, as well as Ukraine, have already expressed their concerns over the upcoming Russia-Belarus exercises.

    In their turn, senior Russian and Belarusian officials reiterated that the drills do not pose any threat to other states and are exclusively defensive in nature. Moreover, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stated earlier that these exercises would be open for foreign observers. The Defense Ministry of Belarus reported in August that observers from seven countries — Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Norway — were invited to the event.

    When commenting on NATO states' reaction to the planned drills, the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that increasing military presence of NATO in Eastern Europe went unnoticed amid groundless criticism of the Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2017 military 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.

    The joint military drills are scheduled for September 14-20. The exercises will stretch from the Kola Peninsula in Russia's far northwest all the way down to Belarus. About 12,700 servicemen (including 5,500 Russians), some 70 planes and helicopters, and up to 680 units of military equipment will be involved in the drills.

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    Tags:
    military drills, Zapad-2017, NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, Russia, Belarus
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