"All states have the right to conduct drills, and we do it in a very open and predictable manner," Stoltenberg told the Norwegian news agency NTB, answering a question on whether Russia should consider the exercise a provocation.
"The aim of NATO is to avoid wars and conflicts, and we do it in a way so that nobody could ever doubt our readiness to defend each member of the alliance," Stoltenberg added. According to the official, Russia had no reasons to believe that NATO drills were provocative.
Earlier in the day Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said that Russia would take into account the increasing number of NATO exercises in Europe and other steps toward the alliance’s military build-up, which would be reflected in Russia's military planning.
Trident Juncture 2018 drills will be held in Norway between October 25 and November 7, with some 40,000 troops from 31 countries participating in the event. Back in May, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said that the drills were supposed to become a "demonstration of our capability" and a "deterrent message" to Russia.