MOSCOW, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Russia accused the West on Thursday of “whipping up hysteria” over its large-scale military exercises currently underway in eastern Europe and denied charges that they were being conducted with a lack of transparency.
The exercises, codenamed “Zapad” or “West”, started on Thursday and will be held until Sept. 20 on military ranges in Belarus, western Russia, Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad and in the Baltic Sea.
“We reject complaints of these exercises not being transparent,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters. “We believe that whipping up hysteria around these exercises is a provocation.”
NATO is closely watching the exercises and says they are larger than the 12,700 servicemen Moscow has publicised, numbering actually some 100,000 troops, and involve firing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. (Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Gareth Jones)