Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told the German Deutsche Welle television station that the Zapad drills, named after the Russian word for West, do not pose a threat to Europe.

“I can calm our dear neighbors straight away,” he said in the interview published on Thursday. “The exercise is absolutely peaceful and absolutely defensive in nature.”

“In this case, the ‘West’ isn’t to be taken in the broad, political sense of the geographic term as the countries of the West, of the European Union or the members of NATO,” he added.

Fomin said he expected relations between Russia and NATO to be restored “in the next year or two at most.”

The Zapad drills will run until Sept. 20.