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NATO Sees Russia’s Vostok 2018 Drills as Preparation For Conflict - Spokesman

© REUTERS / Christian HartmannThe NATO flag is seen through barbed wire as it flies in front of the new NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 24, 2017
The NATO flag is seen through barbed wire as it flies in front of the new NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 24, 2017 - Sputnik International
BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - NATO will closely monitor Russia's Vostok 2018 exercises, expects them to be transparent and predictable, acting NATO Deputy Spokesman Dylan White told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"All nations have the right to exercise their armed forces, but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner. NATO and Russia exchanged reciprocal briefings on military exercises at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in May. We routinely monitor Russian exercises. We are doing the same with Vostok 2018," White said.

"Allied military attaches in Moscow have been invited to a voluntary observation of the exercise. This offer is under consideration. Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict. It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence," he said.

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The exercise "Vostok-2018" will be held in August-September with the participation of the Eastern and Central Military District forces and the Northern Fleet. The main exercises for Russia's military transport aircraft this year will be strategic maneuvers.

NATO has been significantly expanding its presence in Eastern Europe after the outburst of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 using alleged Russian interference in the Ukrainian internal activities as a pretext.

Moscow has many times asserted its protests against the NATO military buildup stating that this move will undermine regional balance and result in a new arms race.

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