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Russian Defense Ministry refutes claims about troops left in Belarus after Zapad-2017

September 30, 13:13 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The ministry’s spokesman said, Viktor Muzhenko’s claims about the Russian troops "hidden" in Belarus, "demonstrate scale of degradation of the Ukrainian General Staff and incompetence of its chief"

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The official representative of the defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov

The official representative of the defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov

© Vadim Grishanin/press service of the defense Ministry of the Russian Federation/TASS

MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. All the Russian military, who participated in the Zapad-2017 military exercise, returned to the permanent deployment areas, and claims by Ukraine’s Chief of General Staff Viktor Muzhenko are not true to life, spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Saturday.

Earlier, in an interview with Reuters, Muzhenko claimed Russia left troops in Belarus after the Zapad-2017 exercise.

"As for units of the Russian Armed Forces, which participated in the Zapad-2017 joint strategic exercise, they all are back to the permanent deployment areas," the ministry’s spokesman said, adding Muzhenko’s claims about the Russian troops "hidden" in Belarus, "demonstrate scale of degradation of the Ukrainian General Staff and incompetence of its chief."

A large-scale exercise Zapad-2017 was held in Russia and Belarus from September 14 to September 20. The drills were held at three proving grounds in Russia and six in Belarus involving 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian), about 70 warplanes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and ten warships. The last train with the Russian military, who participated in the exercise, departed from Belarus on Thursday, September 28.

The main purpose of the exercise was to improve the compatibility of command and control centers, test new documentation and let commanders of all levels practice planning and control of operations on the basis of experience gained in the latest military conflicts.

The drills were monitored by observers from seven states, including NATO members.

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