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NATO: Russia increasingly staging snap military drills

Associated Press Associated Press 29/08/2016
NATO's Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow listens to questions during a joint press conference with Romania's Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu in Bucharest, Romania, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Vershbow said Russia is increasingly staging snap military drills, straining its relationship with the Western military alliance.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press NATO's Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow listens to questions during a joint press conference with Romania's Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu in Bucharest, Romania, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Vershbow said Russia is increasingly staging snap military drills, straining its relationship with the Western military alliance.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania — Russia is increasingly conducting unannounced military exercises, straining its relationship with NATO, the alliance's No. 2 official said Monday.

Russia had staged large drills with no advance notification "with increasing frequency," NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow said. He said there had been about a dozen in the past two years.

Vershbow, on a visit to Bucharest, said Russia's drills are allowed by a loophole in a security agreement signed with Western countries.

He said NATO wants to "develop a more stringent regime to increase transparency and ...predictability and a way to better stabilize what is a very unsatisfactory relationship with Russia."

Alliance members haven't staged snap drills since the end of the Cold War, he said.

He said "if there is an interest in Moscow in stability and predictability, then these exercises are not the way to go."

He said the goal of NATO should be "to upgrade to greater stability and predictability," and to strengthen "the existing regime for transparency."

He called on Russia to reconsider its suspension of the Conventional Forces in Europe, which it withdrew from in 2007 amid worsening relations with the U.S. over the presence of Russian troops in Moldova and Georgia.

"We've lost the additional predictability that comes with that agreement," Vershbow said.

NATO members Poland and Romania are uneasy about Russia's military presence near their borders.

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