NATO called on Russia to be “more transparent and predictable” about military exercises during a NATO-Russia summit. The summit took place on Thursday, at the organisation’s HQ. Several allied countries think Russia’s “Zapad 2017” (“West-2017” in Russian) military exercise in Eastern Russia and Belorussia largely exceeded the number of troops initially announced. Russia has criticised the deployment of four multinational NATO battalions, as well as military exercises on the Alliance’s Eastern flank.
Ambassadors from the 29 NATO countries and their Russian counterpart, Alexandre Grouchko, exchanged information on military exercises by both sides. But several allies have said the latest military exercise by Moscow largely exceeded the number of troops initially announced, and happened in a sensitive region.
The NATO general secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, has put pressure on Russia to be more transparent and predictable about their military exercises. “Transparency is of primordial importance if we want to avoid misunderstandings and heightened tension. We need to minimise the risk of accidents and misunderstandings at all cost. This is why it’s important that Russia respects the Vienna document” (on trust and security measures in Europe), he insisted.
Russia has criticised the deployment of four multinational NATO battalions on the Alliance’s Eastern border. Russia also says the organisation’s recent exercises in some Baltic countries and the Black Sea has contributed to instability in these regions, Moscow said.
Both sides have said transparency and predictability are important factors in avoiding the escalation of military tensions. “If NATO really wants less tension, it also has to restore normal relations and normal cooperation”, a Russian ambassador told NATO.
Moscow supposedly aiding the Taliban was also, unsurprisingly, on the agenda to be discussed. Russia has denied giving any support to the Taliban, and said the allegations were “made up”.