The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 has demonstrated a high level of military training and openness, Alexander Pavlovsky, an independent expert on military affairs, Doctor of Military Sciences, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told BelTA.
“The exercise has demonstrated a high level of training, the interaction of the regional group of forces, and also transparency and openness,” the expert noted. In his words, Zapad 2017 was organized in compliance with all international standards. Belarus and Russia announced the date of the exercise well in advance. The two countries also provided the information on the number of the military staff and hardware to be involved in the drills. The aim of the exercise was not kept secret. The exercise was meant to check the preparedness of the troops to act in the interests of the Union State security. “Keeping in mind the present-day armed conflicts, we were searching for our ways to address such problem should it arise,” the expert said. The concept of the exercise was an alleged crisis situation, which gets aggravated due to activities of illegal armed groups, international separatist and terrorist organizations enjoying outside support.
The Zapad 2017 army exercise ended on 20 September. All the goals were achieved. All the tasks were fulfilled. The army exercise was held in the Belarusian exercise areas Lepelsky, Borisovsky, Losvido, Osipovichsky, and the Air Force exercise areas Ruzhansky and Domanovo in addition to two regular sectors of terrain in Vitebsk Oblast — Dretun and Glubokoye. In Russia the army exercise areas Luzhsky, Strugi Krasnyye, and Pravdinsky in Kaliningrad Oblast, Leningrad Oblast, and Pskov Oblast were used for the exercise.
Some 12,700 military personnel took part in the Zapad 2017 exercise. About 10,200 troops were deployed in Belarus, with Belarus contributing slightly more than 7,000 people and Russia supplying about 3,000 troops. The Belarusian part of the exercise also involved a total of 370 armored vehicles, including about 140 combat tanks. Up to 150 artillery units and multiple-launch rocket systems, over 40 aircraft and helicopters were deployed as well.
Belarus invited dozens of observers to watch the exercise, including those representing international organizations such as the UN, OSCE, NATO, the CIS, the CSTO, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and also military attaches accredited with their embassies in Belarus – a total of more than 80 people. Military observers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Sweden, and Norway came to watch the exercise.
About 270 foreign mass media outlets applied for accreditation to cover the army exercise in Belarus. Applications came from news agencies, publications and TV channels from all the neighboring countries, and also the UK, Germany, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States, Turkey, Finland, France, and Sweden. The army exercise was also covered by journalists from Qatar, South Korea and Japan.