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Moscow calls NATO accusations over West-2017 drills unfounded

The alliance has been well-informed about the exercises, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov

LJUBLJANA, September 4. /TASS/. Moscow considers NATO accusations over Zapad-2017 military drills as unfounded since the alliance has been well-informed about the upcoming events, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said on Monday.

"It is evident that those countries seeking to exacerbate the situation as much as possible ahead of the exercises make various unfounded accusations," Meshkov said. "These are those countries that impede contacts of military from our states."

Moscow has provided NATO with all necessary information about the upcoming Russian-Belarusian drills Zapad-2017, the diplomat said. "Invitations have been sent by the Russian and Belarusian sides."

The joint Russian-Belarusian strategic exercise Zapad-2017 (West-2017) is scheduled for September 14-20. About 12,700 troops and 680 pieces of military equipment are expected to take part. Some Western countries have expressed concerns over the upcoming maneuvers, and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko called them a threat to his country. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin earlier said the reports of an alleged ‘Russian threat’ in the wake of Zapad-2017 military exercises have nothing to do with reality. He insisted that the drills are purely defensive in nature.