MINSK, 28 July (BelTA) – The strategic army exercise Zapad 2021 [West] that Russia and Belarus will carry out this autumn will be purely defensive. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the statement at a conference of the defense ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states, TASS reports.
Sergei Shoigu said: “We are going to stage the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2021 in September in order to practice actions meant to ensure military security on western borders. All the Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries have been invited to participate in it. This exercise is purely defensive and does not target any country or a union.”
The Russian defense minister remarked that Russia has not called for and does not call for the revival of the bloc ideology and the confrontation between the East and the West. “We are in favor of balanced development of interaction in defense affairs for the sake of a timely, adequate and, most importantly, effective response to the entire spectrum of security threats,” he said.
Sergei Shoigu mentioned the resolution of regional conflicts as an important aspect of international stability. “We actively contribute to this process. Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh are the cases in point,” the Russian defense minister said.
Sergei Shoigu also expressed serious concerns about NATO's growing combat potential near the borders of Russia and Belarus. “The tendency in favor of growing military confrontation in the European zone is alarming. NATO is building up forward presence near borders of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. The military infrastructure is getting improved. Material resources, weapons, and military hardware are getting stockpiled. Routes for moving the troops are being practiced,” the official said.
As an example the Russian defense minister mentioned the Defender Europe exercise, which involves the redeployment of troops and the organization of offensive operations on the eastern flank of the alliance. “The West refuses to constructively consider our proposals on deescalating the tensions, including suggestions to move exercise areas away from the contact line and introduce a moratorium on deploying short-range missiles and medium-range missiles in Europe,” Sergei Shoigu noted.