MOSCOW (Sputnik) – According to Stoltenberg, NATO and Russia exchanged at previous rounds information on exercises and force posture to avoid miscalculations and misunderstanding.
"This is why it was significant that at today’s meeting we exchanged advance briefings on upcoming exercises. Russia briefed on the upcoming Zapad 2017 exercise and NATO briefed on the exercise Trident Javelin 2017," Stoltenberg told reporters.
"But from previous experiences related to previous exercises, we have every reason to believe that there may be substantially more troops participating than the official reported numbers," he added.
NATO will take part in the inspection of the Zapad 2017 Belarus-Russian military exercise if it is notified according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Vienna document on security-building measures, he said.
"We don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO allies country … we will follow the Zapad exercise closely and of course if this is the exercise which is notified according to Vienna document and there is a mandatory inspection and transparency then of course we will be part of that."
The joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises dubbed Zapad 2017 (West 2017) are scheduled to be held on September 14-20, Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov said earlier. He noted that the drills would involve around 3,000 Russian troops, 280 pieces of hardware and up to 25 Russian aircraft.
The issues of Ukraine, Afghanistan and transparency were on the agenda of Thursday’s NATO-Russia Council meeting, Stoltenberg said.