The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2021 does not represent a threat to Western countries but Belarusians should be ready for any eventuality. Chairman of the International Affairs and National Security Commission of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Sergei Rachkov made the relevant statement in an interview with the SB. Belarus Segodnya newspaper, BelTA has learned.
The senator noted: “The Zapad 2021 army exercise is necessary. It shouldn't even be described as a waste of serious resources. These exercises were arranged even when Belarus was a western outpost of the USSR. Now our country is the western outpost of the Union State of Belarus and Russia and this is why it has to be securely protected. Particularly when we see what is going on along the perimeter of our border. NATO has invigorated its operations. NATO is staging a number of maneuvers and training events involving troops of allied countries. NATO is reinforcing its paramilitary forces. Our neighbors have to understand that the exercise we are going to stage is a scheduled one. But if the hybrid war, which is going on against our country, becomes a hot war, then the armed forces of Belarus and the Russian Federation should be reformatted and take into account all peculiarities of possible armed conflicts.”
Sergei Rachkov reminded that attempts were made in 2020 to get Belarus involved in geopolitical games of serious world players. “On the one hand, due to our geographical locations – we are actually between the East and the West. On the other hand, due to our actions regarding economic integration with the Russian Federation within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. The West views it as a certain threat. Let me emphasize it once again: we don't threaten anyone, but we objectively evaluate the situation evolving in the world and in the Euro-Atlantic space where NATO is stepping up its presence. This is why we should be ready for any eventuality and should demonstrate it, including through army exercises.”
In turn, Deputy Chief for Science of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus Nikolai Buzin stressed that the key task of any army is to ensure the national security and territorial integrity of the state.
Nikolai Buzin said: “This task cannot be accomplished without training the forces and assets. Regardless of how advanced and smart we can be, in the next ten years armed conflicts, including conflicts between countries, will not become completely remote. It is necessary to approach today's army exercise bearing this reality in mind. The format of the exercise is truly traditional. We've been holding these exercises for many years every two years. What for? To evaluate the capability of our army group to adequately respond to threats and challenges in this direction. To organize interaction at the interstate level and the level of the military organization of the state. To check all kinds of logistics and support systems, which constantly evolve and reach a certain level. This is why we hold Zapad exercises twice a year. This is why we audit things. It is an international practice. Hundreds of military exercises are held in the world every year. Dozens of them in Europe. NATO alone holds up to 100 various military exercises every year. This is why our army exercise is not something extraordinary.”
Nikolai Buzin said he believes that the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2021 partially represents a geopolitical tool for supporting peace in the region. “It is definitely a deterrence tool. We demonstrate to our neighbors, possible opponents that in this area there are forces and means for accomplishing tasks and for ensuring the relevant parities in this region. I'd like to emphasize that over the years of independence we've never threatened anyone and have never presented claims to anyone. But they try to threaten us rather frequently either with sanctions or with something else. Today no component of interstate relations can operate without force. The U.S. president said that they will stop using military force to accomplish geopolitical tasks. It is nothing more than demagogy in confrontation of political elites, who are trying to resolve their own problems but not problems of the world,” the officer pointed out. “We predict and integrate into army exercises any matters relating to the destabilization of countries, including using new engagement systems. For instance, five years ago we practiced responding to elements of what is going on now. Most importantly we had to improve the military organization of the countries, their entire government system.”