VILNIUS - The Baltic prime ministers say that their countries are ready for Zapad, a large-scale military exercise to be held jointly by Russia and Belarus in September, and feel safe after NATO partners have deployed additional capabilities in the region.
"We are ready as sovereign states, as the Baltic states and as NATO member states," Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said at a joint news conference with his Latvian and Estonian counterparts in Klaipeda on Friday.
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said that the countries "are strong in their unity".
Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said that NATO troops stationed in all three Baltic countries "are a great and important assurance" that allows the nations to feel safer than they did a couple of years ago.
According to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, 13,000 soldiers from Russia and Belarus will take part in the Zapad exercise which will take place on Sept. 14-20. According to the Lithuanian intelligence report, however, "the real number of exercise participants will highly likely exceed the officially stated numbers and the exercise scenario will simulate an armed conflict with NATO".