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Moscow confirms all Russian troops left Belarus after Zapad-2017 drills

October 02, 14:00 UTC+3 MINSK

The Zapad-2017 strategic drills were held on September 14-20 in Belarus and Russia

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© Viktor Drachev/TASS

MINSK, October 2. /TASS/. All Russian troops left Belarusian soil after the Zapad-2017 (West-2017) strategic drills had been completed, Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov said on Monday.

"Unless someone [among the Russian servicemen] got married. Otherwise, no one has remained," the diplomat noted.

Any exercise should be approached calmly, considering that any army "cannot remain idle," Surikov said.

"Both Belarus and Russia have armies that must undergo training. We need to treat this [the drills] like athletes in training," the Russian diplomat said.

The Zapad-2017 drills are a planned exercise, held every two years alternately in Russia and Belarus, he added.

"Are Russia and Belarus wary of military drills that are taking place in Lithuania and Sweden? Probably not," the envoy noted.

"We are watching how our military counterparts are training. That is why, we are urging everyone to reasonably treat the drills that take place on our soil," the diplomat said.

The Zapad-2017 strategic drills were held on September 14-20 at six practice ranges and two terrain sections in Belarus and three ranges in Russia. The exercises involved up to 12,700 troops, about 70 aircraft and helicopters, up to 680 armored vehicles, including about 250 tanks, up to 200 guns, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars. Representatives of seven countries, including NATO member states, observed the drills.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry earlier said that troops from Russia and Belarus would return to their permanent bases after the drills by September 30.

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