TALLINN - Estonia will closely monitor the large-scale military exercise Zapad to be held by Russia later this summer, Juri Luik, candidate of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) party for the post of minister of defense, said.
"Of course, since it is taking place so close to Estonia, we must monitor it especially closely. We will do it and our allies will do it as well of course," Luik told BNS on Wednesday.
Luik also made a reference to Zapad when listing the reasons what made him agree to accept the defense portfolio in the Cabinet.
"When we look at what is happening in the world at the moment -- the Western Union cracking, the upcoming large-scale Russian exercise, everything concerning pressure in connection with terrorism -- it is clear that the area of government of the Ministry of Defense is one of the key areas of government in the functioning of the Estonian state," Luik said.
"The problem with exercises like this always is that some kind of military moves could be made in their shadow. By this, I do not mean the outright outbreak of war. But with an exercise held on a giant scale like this the risks definitely are way, way bigger than normally," the would-be minister of defense said. "So we are keeping a close eye on the situation, and this of course also means that we are in constant diplomatic contact with our allies, big allies and small allies in the region," Luik said.
The armed forces of Russia are about to stage a large-scale military exercise named Zapad in Western Russia and Belarus in September. In previous exercises of the same name in 2013 and 2009, Russia reportedly rehearsed also an attack on neighboring countries.