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Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė says that the Zapad 2017 exercise planned by Russia and Belarus for this year is a demonstration of their preparations for warfare with the West.
During the Zapad 2013 training
During the Zapad 2013 training
© Reuters / Scanpix

"We see that threats can be different, they escalate, we're worried about the Zapad 2017 training that will concentrate extremely large and aggressive forces, clearly there are preparations for warfare with the West," Grybauskaitė told media in Riga on Thursday.

In his words, threats from the East force the Baltic states to ask partners for additional security guarantees, for instance, in connection to the speed of decision-making in NATO. The president also expressed hope to discuss the security matters with US Vice-President Mike Pence next week. Grybauskaitė said contacts with the new US administration would be "very close."

Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the Lithuanian parliamentary National Security and Defence Committee, said earlier on Thursday that Zapad 2017 would probably be the biggest-ever exercise close to Lithuania's borders.

After the committee's meeting, State Security Department chief Darius Jauniškis said Zapad 2017 would be the main challenge to Lithuania's national security this year.

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