by Staff Writers
Vilnius (AFP) Sept 26, 2017
Lithuania on Tuesday claimed Russia had simulated an attack on the NATO Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during major military drills, proving Moscow's "aggressive" intentions.
The Zapad-2017 exercises were conducted on September 14-20 in western Russia, as well as in Belarus, Moscow's closest ally.
"There was a simulation of an attack from the Russian Federation on all Baltic states," Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis told reporters, without elaborating.
Russia had said the drills were of a "strictly defensive nature" against a perceived terrorism threat.
But Karoblis said the war games included offensive "conventional actions" against NATO countries.
"Although Russia avoided provocative rhetoric, we noted its aggressive stance while preparing the exercises and conducting them," Karoblis said.
Karoblis said the drills showed that Russia could launch an attack against the Baltic states with 24 hours notice.
Moscow said the drills involved 12,700 troops but Lithuanian military intelligence chief Remigijus Baltrenas insisted that the real numbers were a "few times higher".
The war games on NATO's doorstep came as tensions between Russia and the US-led alliance are at their highest since the Cold War due to the Kremlin's meddling in Ukraine.
Earlier this year, NATO sent around 1,000 troops each to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to reassure its eastern flank, a move that angered Moscow.
Lithuania's top general Jonas Vytautas Zukas said Tuesday that his nation was in talks with allies to boost the NATO presence with air defence and maritime capabilities.
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 26, 2017
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