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Belarus president vows oil and gas issues won’t affect military cooperation with Russia

March 20, 12:00 UTC+3

"On the contrary, (army) exercises demonstrate our consistency in ensuring security of the two nations," Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko

© Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP

MINSK, March 20. /TASS/. The problems in the oil and gas sector between Russia and Belarus will not affect the development of military cooperation between the countries, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said when discussing Zapad 2017, the combined strategic exercises of military forces of the two countries.

"No matter how our relations in such sectors as oil, gas, food and others develop, those are all manageable problems. Those are the issues between Belarus and Russia. Whereas playing with security and defense capability of our common borders is out of the question. This is not a subject of any kind of bargain," he was quoted as saying by the Belarusian BelTA news agency on Monday.

According to Lukashenko, "contrary to what certain ‘experts’ think, no one plans to scale down cooperation with Russia in the military area due to frictions in other fields." "On the contrary, (army) exercises demonstrate our consistency in ensuring security of the two nations," he added.

Belarusian president also said that the international environment makes one constantly enhance excellence of the regional group of forces in order to protect the western borders of the Union State (of Russia and Belarus). "The upcoming exercise is a way to check how well the military forces of the two countries are ready to cooperate," he said.

Zapad 2017 combined strategic exercise will be conducted in Belarus and Russia in September this year.

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