Russia

The NATO secretary general has said that Russia must allow NATO to observe its military exercises near the Baltic states next week in a bid to increase transparency.

Jens Stoltenberg said Russia must accept the NATO exercises under guidelines agreed between the two powers, which laid out plans for war games involving more than 30,000 troops.

Stoltenberg says that he makes the request in an attempt to ensure that the exercises are not being used as a precursor or cover-up for aggressive action against Russia’s neighbouring Baltic nations.

The exercise will run from September 14th to the 20th, just outside the borders of NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Britain currently has a battle group carrying out exercises in Estonia, while NATO has stationed troops in the other Baltic states and Poland.

Mr Stoltenberg told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show:

"Every nation, also Russia, has the right to exercise its forces.”

"The problem is they are not doing that in a transparent way and we have seen before that Russia has used big military exercises as a disguise or a precursor for aggressive military actions against neighbours.”

"That happened in Georgia in 2008 when they invaded Georgia and it happened in Crimea in 2014 when they illegally annexed Crimea.”

"So we call (on) Russia to be fully transparent."

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

"This is the biggest exercise I think for four years, over 100,000 Russian and Belorussian troops now on Nato's border.”

"This is designed to provoke us, it's designed to test our defences, and that's why we have to be strong."

He added:

"Russia is testing us and testing us now at every opportunity, we are seeing a more aggressive Russia, we have to deal with that."