MINSK, 20 March (BelTA) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has approved the concept of the forthcoming Belarusian-Russian army exercise Zapad 2017 [West 2017], BelTA learned from Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov.
From the Kola Peninsula to Belarus
The geographic span of the exercise is impressive — from the Kola Peninsula direction in the arctic zone to Belarus, said the Defense Minister.
Seven exercise areas and locations in Belarus will be used by the regional military force.
The Zapad 2017 exercise is supposed to take place on 14-20 September.
Andrei Ravkov reminded that the regional military force includes units of the Belarusian army and the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District of Russia. Some forces and units of the tank army will travel to Belarus for the sake of taking part in the exercise.
Numbers and the Russian component
The number of troops the exercise will involve will not exceed the parameters specified by the 2011 Vienna Document — 13,000 personnel at most.
During the joint strategic exercise in Belarus the Russian Federation will be represented by about 3,000 military personnel and about 280 vehicles, said the Belarusian Defense Minister.
Apart from ground forces the exercise will involve air force units, including up to 25 aircraft and helicopters from the Russian side.
“No hype. Everything has been planned,” assured Andrei Ravkov.
“The head of state emphasized that the exercise is a way to train the regional military force, which guarantees the defense of the territory of the Union State [of Belarus and Russia] in the western direction,” noted the Defense Minister.
This is why the exercise will be built around a defensive concept. The exercise will check the readiness of the regional military force to fulfill Union State defense missions.
Invitations for Western partners
“The direction of the regional military force, its training and planned actions are purely defensive. We invite representatives of NATO and Western countries to come here to see it firsthand,” said Andrei Ravkov.
In his words, at present Western partners demonstrate serious interest in sending observers to watch the exercise.
“We will send invitations 50 days before the exercise is scheduled to begin. The needs the Western partners have mentioned will be met,” said the Belarusian Defense Minister.
BelTA reported earlier that the forthcoming exercise will focus on preparing and deploying units of the regional military force to ensure military security of the Union State of Belarus and Russia.
As part of the exercise the operational compatibility of staffs of different levels will be tested as well as interlinking between cutting-edge weapon control systems. New military regulations of the Belarusian and Russian armies will be tested. Officers of various levels will get hands-on experience of planning military actions to stabilize the situation and controlling troops during such actions.
The exercise will involve two stages. Apart from planning the deployment of the regional military force units participants of the exercise will practice the fulfillment of territorial defense missions, border security reinforcement, force reconstitution, and overall support.