Russian navy ships and helicopters take a part in a landing operation during military drills in Crimea last year.
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In a bid to dispel Western fears about planned war games by Russia and Belarus, the Russian military said Tuesday the maneuvers simulating a response to foreign-backed "extremists" won't threaten anyone.The maneuvers, to be held Sept. 14 to 20 in Belarus and western Russia, have raised NATO concerns. Russia's Deputy Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin, rejected what he described as Western "myths about the so-called Russian threat".Fomin said the Russian military will invite foreign observers to the maneuvers, which will involve 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops, about 70 aircraft, up to 250 tanks, 200 artillery systems and 10 navy ships.Belarus hosts a Russian military early warning radar and a navy communications facility, but Lukashenko has resisted Kremlin pressure for hosting a Russian air base.The chief of the Belarusian military's General Staff, Oleg Belokonev, pledged Tuesday that all Russian troops involved in the maneuvers will leave Belarus by the end of September.
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