MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. The western media’s fuss over the exercise Zapad-2017 is a cover-up for NATO’s soaring activity near the borders of Russia and Belarus, including measures to practice the procedure of using nuclear weapons, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a joint board meeting of the Russian and Belarussian defense ministries on Friday.
He recalled that last September Russia and Belarus held the strategic exercise Zapad-2017. Shoigu pointed out that although the exercise was purely defensive and long-expected, it was accompanied by "continued media attacks and charges by some of our partners."
"The western media’s fuss over the drills is a cover-up for NATO’s growing activity near Russian and Belarussian borders. On the eastern flank the alliance has intensified operative and combat training activities, including nuclear weapons use procedures," Shoigu said.
"The high level of partnership by the defense ministries allows for successfully addressing the issues of enhancing the defense potential of our countries and for demonstrating to the world community the positive dynamics of Russian-Belarussian relations and the growing capabilities of the armed forces to ensure the military security of the Union State," Shoigu said.
"In the immediate vicinity of our borders NATO has been building up its military presence, deploying extra military contingents and concentrating offensive armaments. Large-scale exercises are held on the regular basis. The infrastructures of seaports, airdromes and other facilities is being upgraded," Shoigu said.
"These actions undermine strategic stability and require taking retaliatory defensive measures."
"We do not wish to get involved in military confrontation with the West and we are prepared to conduct a constructive dialogue on the entire range of security issues, first and foremost, those concerning the struggle against world terrorism," Shoigu said.