RIGA - The Baltic States have expressed concern over Russian-Belarusian defense exercises near their borders, reports AFP. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all NATO members, have questioned the purposes of the exercises close to their border launched on Sept. 19 and claim an ‘anti-West’ agenda.
A statement from the Russian Embassy in Latvia stressed that the exercises are only defensive in nature and carry no threat to the neighboring counties.
The military drills involve over 13,0000 troops, war planes, artillery and armored vehicles in Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave and are expected to end next Thursday.
However, defense ministers in the Baltic States are unconvinced. Lithuania’s Defense Minister Juozas Olekas told AFP: “Russia has officially stated that these are anti-terrorism exercises. But the number of participants and amount of military equipment indicates that that this is not their agenda.”
“Every country has the right to conduct exercises, but we are concerned that these exercises are not transparent,” he added.