Russia tries to allay Western fears about planned war games

The Russian military says major war games set for next month will not threaten anyone.

The Zapad (West) 2017 maneuvers organized jointly by Belarus and Russia have raised NATO concerns. Some alliance members, including the Baltic states and Poland, have criticized Moscow for a lack of transparency and questioned Moscow's intentions. Russia-West relations have been badly strained over fighting in eastern Ukrainian.

Russia's Deputy Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin, told Tuesday's briefing that Russia will invite foreign observers to the drills.

He said the maneuvers in Belarus and Western Russia on Sept. 14-20 will involve 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops, about 70 aircraft, 250 tanks and 200 artillery systems and 10 navy ships.

Fomin rejected what he described as Western "myths about the so-called Russian threat."