MINSK, 14 September (BelTA) – An air defense operation was practiced on the first day of the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017, BelTA learned from Vladimir Makarov, Head of the Information Office, Press Secretary of the Central Office for Ideology of the Belarusian Defense Ministry, on 14 September.
On the first day of the army exercise actions of commanding officers and staffs were analyzed as they led their troops and army units to stabilize the situation in their responsibility areas. Troops were also prepared for action on the first day of the exercise. Combat operations to find, block, and destroy sabotage and reconnaissance forces as well as illegal armed groups were practiced. An air defense operation was staged as well.
In particular, an air space intruder was stopped in the Ruzhansky exercise area. Preparations for combat actions were completed in the Borisovsky exercise area. The organization of territorial defense was practiced in Glubokoye District.
The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 began on 14 September to end on 20 September. In Belarus the regular army exercise areas Lepelsky, Borisovsky, Losvido, Osipovichsky, and the Air Force exercise areas Ruzhansky and Domanovo will be used for the exercise 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 will be used for the exercise.
Modern approaches to combat warfare and the experience of modern armed conflicts were taken into account in order to put together the concept of the Zapad 2017 army exercise. The concept stems from a crisis situation, which gets aggravated by actions of illegal armed groups, international separatist and terrorist organizations enjoying outside support. For the purposes of the exercise the warring parties are located within real borders of Belarus: the Northerners, which include the Union State of Belarus and Russia, and the Westerners, which are represented by a coalition of interested countries. All the recent armed conflicts began in line with this scenario.
Some 12,700 military personnel are taking part in the Zapad 2017 exercise. About 10,200 personnel will be 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 will also involve 370 armored vehicles, including about 140 combat tanks. Up to 150 artillery units and multiple-launch rocket systems, over 40 aircraft and helicopters will be deployed as well. The Zapad 2017 exercise includes two stages. During the first stage (three days) there are plans to prepare troops for combat deployment and for isolating the areas where illegal armed groups and the enemy's sabotage and reconnaissance forces operate. Air Force and Air Defense units in charge of protecting important government institutions and military installations will be reinforced. During the second stage (four days) there are plans to practice troops control in the course of combat operations meant to repulse a possible aggression against the Union State of Belarus and Russia. Interaction and comprehensive logistics will be established in a rapidly changing situation.
Belarus has invited military attaches of foreign embassies in Belarus and representatives of a number of international organizations: UN, OSCE, NATO, CIS, CSTO, and the International Committee of the Red Cross to watch the exercise, all in all, over 80 people.
Military observers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Sweden, and Norway are also expected to turn up for the Zapad 2017 exercise. Progress of the exercise will be closely followed by mass media. During the active phase — 17-19 September – reporters will be able to access the Ruzhansky, Osipovichsky, and Domanovsky exercise areas where combat operations will be practiced. Apart from that, as from 14 September a Defense Ministry spokesman will brief reporters about the tasks tackled every day of the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 at the end of each day. Belarus has received a record high number of applications for accreditation — about 270. Applications were received from news agencies, printed media, TV channels from all the neighboring countries as well as the UK, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, the USA, Turkey, Finland, France, and Sweden. The army exercise will also be covered by reporters from Qatar, South Korea, and Japan.