NATO wants detailed info in advance about Zapad 2017 exercise near Lithuania

President Putin lands at the site of Zapad 2013
RIA / Scanpix

“Zapad 2017 exercise is an example of a kind of exercises which we would like to be briefed beforehand,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told journalists in Brussels on Tuesday.

He said possibilities of exchanging information about exercises in advance had been discussed with Russian diplomats.

Stoltenberg also emphasized NATO’s plans of modernizing the documents regulating transparency and international monitoring of war games. In his words, Russia is taking advantage of the gaps contained in the documents.

“NATO is working to modernize the Vienna document (…) to adress existing gaps,” said the NATO head.

According to information provided to BNS by Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry, Russia held 20 exercises unannounced in advance in 2015. Diplomats did not provide any data for 2016.

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė has said that this year’s Zapad was clearly a preparation for a war with the Western world. Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the parliamentary National Security and Defence Committee, said the training would probably be the biggest-ever exercise close to Lithuania’s borders.

Intelligence services have listed Zapad as the main challenge to Lithuania’s national security in 2017.

Officials said earlier Zapad war games provided training to occupy the southern part of Lithuania, thus blocking the only land route for NATO countries to the Baltic states. Russia was also accused of failing to provide actual numbers of the troops and equipment involved in the exercise.

Zapad was last held in 2013. Moscow and Minsk then said the exercise included about 10,000 soldiers.

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