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MINSK, November 2. /TASS/. Russia and Belarus have signed over 20 contracts on the delivery and upgrade of military hardware while another several dozens of agreements are at the stage of approval, Belarusian Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Andrei Ravkov said on Wednesday.
"In 2016 alone, we have already signed over 20 contracts for the delivery and upgrade of military hardware. Several dozen more contracts are at the stage of approval or drafting," he said at a joint board session of the Russian and Belarusian defense ministries.
Arms deliveries are made on preferential terms, he added.
"I can’t but note cooperation in the military and technical sphere, which is developing dynamically. Russia is our basic partner in the delivery of military products, as well as the repairs and upgrade of armaments and combat hardware," the defense minister said. Over the past 18 years, military educational establishments of the Russian Defense Ministry have trained 1,273 Belarusian servicemen and another 383 are undergoing training at present, he added.
According to the Belarusian defense minister, both countries have a lot of other spheres of military cooperation, in which considerable results have been achieved, which has made it possible over many years to characterize interaction of the defense ministries as a benchmark for other ministries and departments of the Russia-Belarus Union State.
The Belarusian general said he hoped that today’s session of the defense ministries’ joint board "will become a new point of contact between the defense ministries on a whole number of issues of creating new and improving existing systems of ensuring security in the military sphere."
Russia and Belarus have held almost 100 joint measures in 2016, he went on.
"Summing up the results of implementing the plan of inter-departmental cooperation for 2016, I want to stress that the plan has been implemented in full and this means almost 100 joint measures," the defense minister said at a joint board session of the defense ministries from both countries.
The Russian-Belarusian exercises Zapad-2017 (West-2017) will be the main event of the joint training of military governance bodies and troops from both countries in 2017, he said.
"I want to emphasize full mutual understanding and the coincidence of the positions and the unity of opinions on all the issues discussed [at the joint board session]. Today we clearly see further prospects of our military cooperation. No doubt, the fulfillment of all the planned measures will make it possible to continue successfully strengthening the defense capability of our countries and the Union State as a whole," Ravkov said.
During the joint board session of the defense ministries, the Belarusian side also proposed holding two new contests on its territory as part of the 2017 International Army Games.