The prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania say that their respective countries are ready for Zapad, a large-scale military exercise to be held jointly by Russia and Belarus in September, and feel safe after NATO partners have deployed additional capabilities to the Baltic region.
"We are ready as sovereign states, as the Baltic states and as NATO member states," Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said at a joint news conference with his Estonian and Latvian counterparts in Klaipėda on Friday.
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said that the three countries "are strong in their unity," while Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis said that NATO troops stationed in all three Baltic countries "are a great and important assurance" that allows the three nations to feel safer than they did a couple of years ago.
According to the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13,000 soldiers from Russia and Belarus will take part in the Zapad exercise, which will take place on Sept. 14-20.
According to a Lithuanian intelligence report, however, "the real number of exercise participants will highly likely exceed officially stated numbers and the exercise scenario will simulate an armed conflict with NATO."
Editor: Aili Vahtla