NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg believes that more servicemen will be involved in the upcoming joint Russian and Belarusian exercise Zapad 2017 (West-2017) than was officially announced, and as a result, called for the admission of observers from the alliance to the exercise, Interfax reports.
"I can say that it's too early to say anything right now, because we still have to see, because the exercises have not taken place yet. However, based on the history of the previous exercises, there is every reason to believe that far more troops will be engaged than it is being officially stated today," Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels after a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council.
"Therefore, NATO calls on Russia to abide by the Vienna Document and allow the Alliance to carry out inspections for the purposes of transparency and observation of the drills," the NATO Secretary General stressed.
He said that at the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council the Russians held a briefing on the upcoming exercises Zapad-2017, during which it provided the number of aircraft and ships, as well as the number of Russian and Belarusian troops engaged in the exercise.
However, Stoltenberg assured that the alliance does not see an imminent threat in the joint Russian and Belarusian exercises or in Russia as a whole.
"Each country has the right to conduct exercises of its armed forces, this also applies to Russia, we do not see any imminent threat (coming from the RF) against any of the NATO countries," he said.
"It is important that at today's meeting we exchanged detailed information on the upcoming exercises, Russia provided information on the West-2017 exercises, and NATO - on the Trident Javelin 2017 exercises," the NATO Secretary General said.