Putin says nuclear drills are not an escalation

King of Bahrain meets Russian president in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia regularly carries out nuclear exercises and its latest drills this week are not an escalation.

Putin said the only difference this time is that the exercises also involve Belarus, where Russia announced last year that it was deploying tactical nuclear missiles.

He was speaking at a press conference in Minsk following two days of talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Lucy Papachristou; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)