MOSCOW (Sputnik) — All member states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have been informed about upcoming Russian-Belarusian drills Zapad-2017 in advance, Col. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, in charge of the Russia's Western Military District, told Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper in an interview released in its Wednesday edition.
"In accordance with international agreements, all member states of the OSCE were sent an advance notice about the military activity [Zapad-2017], while international observers received their invitations in August," Kartapolov said, as quoted in the newspaper.
According to him, the upcoming exercise, similar to all the drills in the past, will be "absolutely transparent for international observers as well as for journalists."
A number of NATO member states and Ukraine have expressed concern over the drills. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said last week that the drills were about to serve as the demonstration of Russia's power and capabilities, adding that there were more than 100,000 troops involved in the exercise. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov later in the week refuted her statement on the number of troops.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin has stressed that the drills would be defensive in nature and focus on counter-terrorism operations.