MINSK, 11 September (BelTA) – The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has briefed heads of diplomatic missions of foreign states and international organizations, which are accredited in Belarus, to inform them about preparations for and the intended course of the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017, BelTA has learned.
Although such briefings used to be the exclusive province of defense agencies in the past, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to act as openly as possible and tell all the interested foreign diplomats, who are accredited in Belarus, about the forthcoming army exercise. Representatives of over 40 nations turned up for the briefing.
Belarusian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Valentin Rybakov explained: “Taking into account the close attention the Zapad 2017 exercise has attracted in the region and in order to address the concerns that have been voiced, we have decided to arrange such a briefing also for the heads of diplomatic missions and representative offices of international organizations. I would like to reiterate that the exercise will be purely defensive.”
The official informed the diplomats about the theme and goals of the exercise, the number of personnel and hardware that will be used in the course of the exercise. Valentin Rybakov was ready to answer any questions together with the representatives of the Defense Ministry, who were also present during the briefing.
Ambassador of Ukraine to Belarus Igor Kizim told media after the briefing that such briefings are useful. “On the one hand, they demonstrate the openness of the Belarusian side. On the other hand, they give ambassadors an opportunity to ask the questions that may worry and interest them,” said the diplomat.
However, the diplomats asked no questions during the briefing.More about Politics