MOSCOW, October 13. /TASS/. Russia is always ready for direct talks with NATO, but has no plans of delivering reports to any side about military drills on its own territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
"We are ready to hold direct talks with NATO," Putin said speaking at the plenary session of the Russian Energy Week forum. "However, if speaking about our soldiers, I must say that they are deployed on the territory of Russia."
"It is true that we recently held military drills, the Zapad-2021 [strategic military exercise], and it was a large-scale military exercise," he continued. "I reiterate that we are holding our [military] exercises on the territory of our own country."
"There is nothing strange about it and we are not obliged of filing reports in this regard to any other party," Putin added.
The Russian president also said that the US and NATO military forces regularly hold combat drills not on their territories, including near the state borders of Russia.
"In fact, it is our partners, who breach all earlier reached agreements, including on the measures of trust in Europe," Putin stated. "It also goes for NATO’s expansion to the East and I have repeatedly pointed out to this fact."
"This also relates to certain imbalances in the Baltic states that are excluded from any troop counts," the Russian president said.
Putin also recalled that the United States exited earlier from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), Open Skies and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaties.
"We did not do it. It was what our American partners did," Putin added.
Zapad-2021 strategic exercise
The Zapad-2021 joint strategic drills ran at nine practice ranges in Russia and five training grounds in Belarus between September 10 and 16, 2021.
According to earlier reports, the Zapad-2021 strategic exercise brought together around 200,000 troops, over 80 aircraft and helicopters and up to 760 items of combat hardware: more than 290 tanks, over 240 guns, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and also up to 15 warships.
Almost 13,000 troops, more than 30 aircraft and helicopters and up to 350 combat vehicles were involved in the strategic maneuvers on Belarusian territory.