27 Feb 2020 16:40

NATO exercises provocative, have anti-Russian scenarios - Gerasimov

MOSCOW. Feb 27 (Interfax) - Moscow has questions concerning NATO activity near the Russian border and exercises based on anti-Russian scenarios, Chief of the Russian Armed Forces' General Staff Valery Gerasimov said at a meeting with his French counterpart Francois Lecointre.

"There are a number of issues that cause our concern. First of all, the enhanced military activity of NATO conducted near the Russian border. The coming exercises are based on anti-Russian scenarios and aim to train offensive operations," Gerasimov said.

Given the absence of a military dialogue, such events "clearly have a provocative nature," he said.

Gerasimov noted the existence of a communication channel between the defense ministries of Russia and France and the ongoing implementation of the agreement on the prevention of air and marine incidents.

Gerasimov assured Lecointre that the Russian Defense Ministry is ready to develop bilateral contacts "on the entire range of global and regional security affairs," as agreed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Lecointre confirmed progress in bilateral relations and said that his visit aimed at reaching mutual understanding in the assessment of crisis situations.

Russia will be happy to see French troops at the Victory Parade in 2020, Gerasimov said.

"We deeply honor the memory of the French servicemen who fought together with the Red Army against their common enemy, and we will be happy to see the French contingent among the participants in the Victory Parade on Red Square on May 9, 2020," he said.

Gerasimov spoke about the importance of direct and open dialogue between the two countries, "especially [...] in the period of preparations in Russia for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War."

Lecointre, in turn, said he will pass this information on to French President Emmanuel Macron.