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July 13, 2017 18:14

Minsk vows to invite military observers from neighboring countries, int'l organizations to monitor Zapad 2017 exercise (Part 2)

MINSK. July 13 (Interfax) - Belarus will forward invitations to international organizations and neighboring countries to monitor the Belarusian-Russian joint exercise Zapad (West) 2017.

"Being guided by the principle of transparency and acting in the spirit of goodwill, our country proactively sends invitations to representatives of international organizations, such as the UN, the OSCE, NATO, the CIS, the CSTO, the International Committee of the Red Cross to take part in monitoring the active phase of the exercise," Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dmitry Mironchik said at a news briefing on Thursday.

Belarus will also invite military attaches of foreign countries accredited with embassies to Belarus, he said.

"We will also invite military observers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Sweden and Norway," he said.

"As far as I know, these invitations will be sent out literally today through Defense Ministry channels," he said.

Back in late 2016, Minsk officially notified all OSCE member states of the upcoming exercises, just as is envisioned by the 2011 Vienna Document on confidence and security building measures, Mironchik said.

"No later than 42 days prior to the exercises, all necessary information on Zapad 2017 will be forwarded to OSCE member countries. This is also envisioned by our obligations under the Vienna Document," he said.

In addition, "only yesterday, at the OSCE forum on security cooperation in Vienna, a deputy chief of staff of the Belarusian Armed Forces gave a detailed briefing dealing with these exercises," he said.

"Officially and at a high level, the member countries were provided with detailed information on the exercise's objective and scenario, its goals and purposes, and the forces involved," he said.

It was particularly indicated that the exercise is exclusively defensive and would be aimed at enhancing the military security of the Belarus-Russia Union State, he said.

It was also said at the briefing in Vienna that the overall number of troops to be involved in the Zapad 2017 exercise would not exceed the level subject to mandatory monitoring.

"The head of state, the foreign minister, and the defense minister have clearly said on numerous occasions that the upcoming exercise does not pose a threat to anyone," Mironchik said.

"The concerns and worries of some countries and politicians are absolutely artificial and are more characteristic of the Cold War era than the current real situation. It's time to stop looking for a black cat in a dark room - it's not there," he said.

The joint strategic exercise of the Belarusian and Russian Armed Forces will be held in September 2017. This is a regular exercise held every two years.

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(Our editorial staff can be reached at eng.editors@interfax.ru)

/Interfax/
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