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NATO secretary general comments on Russian military drills

Jens Stoltenberg says Russia has the right to drill its armed forces but maximum transparency is needed to avoid misunderstanding

UNITED NATIONS, September 21. /TASS/. Russia, like other countries, has the right to drill its armed forces but maximum transparency is needed to avoid misunderstanding, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday, commenting on the recently finished Zapad-2017 Russian-Belarusian military drills.

"All nations have the right to exercise military forces, this is also valid for Russia. The important thing is that when forces are exercised there is maximum transparency and predictability to avoid miscalculations, misunderstandings and incidents, because if they happen they may create really dangerous situations," he said after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

A large-scale exercise Zapad-2017 was held in Russia and Belarus from September 14 to September 20. The drills were held at three proving grounds in Russia and six in Belarus involving 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian), about 70 warplanes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and ten warships.

The main purpose of the exercise was to improve the compatibility of command and control centers, test new documentation and let commanders of all levels practice planning and control of operations on the basis of experience gained in the latest military conflicts.

The drills were monitored by observers from seven states, including NATO members.