MOSCOW – Russia said on Tuesday joint war
games with Belarus would be purely defensive in nature and
rejected what it said were false allegations it might use the
drills as a springboard to launch invasions of Poland, Lithuania
or Ukraine.

A total of almost 13,000 Russian and Belarussian servicemen
and almost 700 pieces of military hardware will be used in the
Zapad 2017 exercises next month, Russian news agencies cited
Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin as saying.

Those numbers were in line with international rules, he was
cited as saying.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said the
alliance will closely watch the exercises and has called for
them to be held in an open and legal manner.

Belarusian Deputy Defence Minister Oleg Belokonev said on
Tuesday that all troops and equipment brought into Belarus for
the war games would be withdrawn afterwards, the Interfax news
agency reported.