(Changes attribution to Interfax agency, not RIA)
MOSCOW, July 21 (Reuters) - U.S. allegations that Russia could leave military equipment in Belarus after holding large-scale military exercises there in September are “buffoonery”, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin as saying on Friday.
U.S. Army Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, who heads U.S. Army forces in Europe, told Reuters in an interview that allied officials would keep a close eye on military equipment brought in to Belarus for the Zapad 2017 exercise, and whether it was removed later.
U.S. allies in eastern Europe and Ukraine are worried that Russia’s planned war games in September could be a “Trojan horse” aimed at leaving behind military equipment brought into Belarus, the U.S. Army’s top general in Europe said.
Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Alexander Winning and Ralph Boulton