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17 July 2017, 19:57

Belarus to invite over 80 international observers for Zapad 2017 army exercise

MINSK, 17 July (BelTA) – Belarus will invite over 80 international observers to monitor the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017, BelTA learned from the latest interview Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov gave to the TASS news agency.

Andrei Ravkov said: “Although the number of personnel, the number of armored fighting vehicles, artillery systems, and Air Force units earmarked for the Zapad 2017 exercise are below the threshold figures that trigger notification protocols, we will invite our partners to come and see with their own eyes that the exercise does not have the goals they claim it does. Invitations will be sent out not only to military attaches accredited with the Belarusian Defense Ministry but also to a number of international organizations such as the United Nations Organization, the OSCE, NATO, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

According to the source, Belarus will also honor its commitments within the framework of regional trust-building and security measures. “We look forward to the arrival of observers from our neighbors — Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Observers from Estonia, Sweden, and Norway have been invited as part of bilateral agreements. A total of over 80 observers will be invited,” noted Andrei Ravkov.

The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 is a scheduled one. It has been authorized by the presidents of the two countries. The exercise is supposed to demonstrate persistence in efforts to ensure security of the two brotherly nations. Such exercises are held in Belarus and Russia interchangeably every two years.

Practical actions will take place in six dedicated army exercise areas in Belarus and at a regular location near the village of Dretun. It will be the largest army exercise held as part of the joint operational training efforts of the Belarusian and Russian armies. The exercise is a logical end to the 2016-2017 academic year. About 40 joint operational and combat training events have been held prior to the exercise, including joint exercises meant to practice all kinds of support.

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