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TIRANA, Albania – A senior NATO official says there's reason to be concerned about the large-scale Zapad 2017 military maneuvers being conducted now by Russia and Belarus, since they could be seen as "a serious preparation for big war."
Gen. Petr Pavel, head of NATO's Military Committee, on Saturday told the Associated Press that NATO is increasing efforts to re-establish the military-to-military communications with Russia to avoid any "unintended consequences of potential incidents during the exercise."
The defense chiefs of NATO member countries were holding their annual conference this year in the Albanian capital of Tirana to discuss fighting terrorism, the situation in the Western Balkans and the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan.
The Zapad war games run until Sept. 20 and involve 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops.