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MOSCOW, September 14. /TASS/. The wave of hype over the Zapad-2017 (or West-2017) Russian-Belarusian military drills, which kicked off on Thursday, is a provocation, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
"No allegations [concerning the transparency level of the drills - TASS] seem to be acceptable," he said. "During military exercises, the Russian Defense Ministry always keeps the transparency level as high as possible. We believe the wave of hype over these drills to be a provocation. It is a normal practice, as any country has the right to conduct such drills. They are held in strict compliance with international law and all the relevant rules," Peskov pointed out.
While speaking to reporters, he did not rule out that the Russian president would attend one of the venues of the military exercises. "We don’t rule out that the president may visit one of the venues," Peskov said.
The Zapad-2017 joint Russian-Belarusian military drills, which kicked off in the two countries on Thursday, involve up to 12,700 troops, including 7,200 Belarusian and around 5,500 Russian troops, as well as around 70 aircraft, up to 680 pieces of military equipment, including 250 tanks, up to 200 guns, mortars and multiple-launch rocket systems.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier that NATO would keep a close eye on the drills and would send three observers to monitor the exercises. At the same time, Stoltenberg called for increasing the transparency of the drills.