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MINSK, March 20. /TASS/. Joint military exercises by Russia and Belarus codenamed West 2017 will be held from September 14 to 20, involving about 3,000 Belarusian military, Belarusian Defense Minister Andrey Ravkov told reporters on Monday.
The minister said Moscow plans to send about 3,000 military and about 280 items of military equipment for the joint drills to be held in Belarus. "Aircraft, involving up to 25 Russian military planes, will also take part in the drills," he said.
"Everything is going as planned," the minister noted. "The scope of this exercise is enromous - from the Kola direction in the Arctic zone to Belarus."
"The total number of troops that will be involved in the exercise will not exceed the parameters stipulated by the Vienna document of 2011, no more than 13,000 military," he specified.
Ravkov said Belarus will furnish seven firing grounds and areas for the regional grouping of forces, which includes the Armed Forces of Belarus and the 1st tank army of the Russian Western Military District. Some tank units will take part in the military drills.
Earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko gave his seal of approval to event’s plans. According to the minister, the president emphasized that the upcoming drills were aimed at training the regional group of forces that protect the territory of the Union State of Russia and Belarus on its western periphery.
The top Belarusian military said the military would be polishing up key elements of defense.
He said Western partners are interested in monitoring the exercise. "We will send invitations 50 days prior to the exercise’s launch. The requirements requested by the western partners will be met," the minister added.