Nato’s secretary-general has said he is confident the Western military alliance and Russia “will act in a respectable way” as the two sides hold drills in the same area in waters off Norway’s coast.
Jens Stoltenberg was speaking as he attended the Trident Juncture war games in his native Norway.
He said that “this is not a Cold War situation”, stressing it is “purely to prevent, not to provoke”.
Russia has been briefed by Nato on the exercises and invited to monitor them, but the move has still angered the Russians.
Moscow has warned it could be forced to respond to increased Nato military activities and said its navy plans to test missiles in international waters, close to where the alliance is conducting its largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War.
The Russian missile tests will take place at the start of November off western Norway. The Nato drill, which is scheduled to end on November 7, is taking place in central and eastern Norway, the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea.
The exercises come amid persistent tensions between Nato and Russia, and Moscow believes the alliance is behaving provocatively near its borders. Mr Stoltenberg said it is a necessary exercise to “send a strong signal of unity”.
The exercises involve around 50,000 personnel from all 29 Nato allies, plus partners Finland and Sweden.
There also are 65 ships, 250 aircraft and 10,000 vehicles in a hypothetical scenario that involves restoring Norway’s sovereignty after an attack by a “fictitious aggressor”.
“We are exercising in Nato territory,” Mr Stoltenberg said.