BAKU, November 20. /TASS/. NATO’s allegations about the Zapad-2017 Russian-Belarusian joint military drills being aggressive have turned out to be false, while the alliance still hasn’t pulled its troops out of the Baltic States, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a meeting with students of Azerbaijan’s Diplomatic Academy.
"They [NATO] deployed troops to the Eastern Europe citing the so-called Russian threat, they even said that the Zapad-2017 Russian-Belarusian exercises had been aimed at preparing an aggression against the Baltic States, and that Russia wanted to conquer Belarus as well," the Russian top diplomat said.
"But none of those allegations proved to be true, they all turned out false. Nevertheless, the troops they sent to the Baltic States in order to counter the threat that, they believed, the Zapad-2017 drills posed, still remain there," Lavrov pointed out.
The Russian foreign minister went on to say that security in the Eurasian and the Euro-Atlantic region should be seen as "security in the region stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, and all countries should be equal." "Equality means that there should be no one provided with legal guarantees, while others make do with promises that are not going to be fulfilled," Lavrov concluded.
The Zapad-2017 (or West-2017) joint Russian-Belarusian military drills took place on the territory of both countries on September 14-20. The military exercises involved nearly 13,000 troops, around 70 aircraft and helicopters, up to 680 pieces of military hardware, including about 250 tanks, as well as up to 200 artillery guns, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars. The drills were held on six training ranges in Belarus and three training ranges in Russia.
Representatives of seven countries, including NATO member states, monitored the drills.