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Belarus sees additional risks in concentration of NATO forces near country's borders

Belarus sees more risk in connection with the placement of more NATO troops at its borders, including troops equipped with heavy weapons, said Belarusian Defense Minister, Lieutenant-General Andrei Ravkov in an interview with TASS.

"Along with the strengthening of the aviation component of NATO member states in the Baltics and Poland, which protect air space, the alliance consistently sends additional troops to areas near the borders of the Republic of Belarus. They have heavy weapons," said the head of the defense department.

Mr Ravkov said that 2014 was marked by increase in military activity of the neighboring states and intensified activities of operational and combat training.

In this context, according to the minister, "the Republic of Belarus cannot ignore changes in the military-political situation in the region, which carry additional risks, challenges and threats to the military security of the state."

The Defense Minister noted that these aspects were taken into account by the military and political leadership of Belarus when drafting the plan of preparation of the Armed Forces in the 2014-2015 academic year.

Currently the practical implementation of this plan is underway, which is reflected in operational and combat training.

According to Ravkov, Belarus proceeds from the fact that no state is currently its potential enemy. However, he added, every country has the right to defend their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"This requires trained forces, and we 'fully understand' the training activities of the armed forces of other countries," said Mr Ravkov.

"But we would like to see similar understanding on the part of our neighbors," he said.