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Latvian defence minister voices concern over Russian-Belarusian exercises

July 19, 2013, 16:05 UTC+3

The military maneuvres are to take place in September

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RIGA, July 19 (Itar-Tass) - Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks said he is concerned over the Russian-Belarusian exercises Zapad 2013 due to take place in September.

“We’d like to see them more open and transparent. We want Russia to invite us to take part in the exercises and we’ll be able to observe them and give an assessment,” local mass media quote the defence minister as saying on Friday.

The minister believes that the exercises would imitate the attack on the Baltic States. “I don’t believe that such scenario will differ from the previous one: although it has its nuances. In any case they will be aimed at our region,” Pabriks said.

At the same time, he recognized that every state had the right to conduct exercises in compliance with the external threats.

The defence minister said he is concerned over Russia’s military active efforts and its presence in the Baltic region. “We see the changes in the military balance. I’m worried about it,” he added.

The Russian-Belarusian exercises are conducted in both countries by turn. In 2009, the Zapad manoeuvres took place in Belarus. The Latvian defence minister said then that the republic had no reasons for concern due to these exercises.

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