The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko said that the joint Belarusian-Russian exercise "Zapad-2017" will have purely defensive objectives so the representatives of NATO should be allowed to observe them. BelTA reports that he made the statement during consideration of the report on organizing joint strategic exercises between the Armed Forces of Belarus and Russia.
"I demand cooperation from all of you so that this event on our country’s territory remains transparent. All activities will be accessible not only to our friends in the CSTO, the EAEU and the CIS but also to the representatives of the North Atlantic bloc, NATO,” Lukashenko said. “We are not hiding anything and should not be. If NATO wants to attend our exercise, then they are welcome to do so, especially since I'm already receiving such information and signals from their side."
"We do not shut our doors to anyone,” Lukashenka added. “We will invite all who wish to attend this exercise and you will see that they are exclusively defensive in nature. Neither we nor the Russian Federation are going to attack anyone in this direction. We will not even provoke anyone here. We are simply preparing to ensure our safety in any situation just in case.”
The Belarusian President suggested that the Defense Ministry's leadership should assess the effectiveness of bilateral military cooperation with Russia as a whole. "For me, this is also important because of a possible meeting of the Supreme State Council. So that if there are any problems, I could address them with the leadership of Russia and draw attention to more effective cooperation within the framework of our agreements on the defense of the Union State," Lukashenko said.
He also said that the presence of Russian troops on the territory of the republic "should leave in the memory of officers and soldiers, our guests, only positive emotions.” “These are our people. We will have to defend our security together," he concluded.
It is worth noting that earlier in March, Russia refused provide NATO with any information about Zapad 2017.