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ALABINO (Moscow Region), June 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s qualifying round for the 2014 World Tank Biathlon championship in August kicked off on Monday at a firing range outside Moscow.
Gen.-Maj. Alexander Peryazev, the chief of the combat training of the Russian Ground Forces, said that this year besides Russia a total of 13 countries confirmed their participation in the upcoming competition.
“Fourteen countries, including Russia, will be participating in the international stage of the competition,” Peryazev said. “Thirteen foreign crews, excluding China, will be competing on Russian-made tanks.”
Speaking about a possible participation of Ukraine, which was also invited for the championship, Peryazev said that according to his information “there was no application for the tournament from Ukraine as of yet.”
The high-ranking military official said all international crews participating on Russian combat vehicles would be provided with completely the same tanks.
“Foreign crews, which will participate in the international stage of the competition, trust our military hardware,” Peryazev said. “It will certainly not be the case when someone gets better [tanks] and others worse [tanks].”He said the firing range at the Alabino, where the competition takes place, is equipped with 5,000-seat spectator stands and the admission fee for all wising to see the championship is free of charge.
General Ivan Buvaltsev, the chief of the Russian armed forces' main department of combat training, said in early June that foreign crews would be provided with Russia’s T-72B tanks, or Slingshot, according to NATO classification.
He said Russia also provided six-week training for foreign tank crews intending to compete on Russian combat vehicles “just for equal opportunities to all the competitors.”
“They can get accustomed to the machines and exercise at a special range while the others are training at home,” he said adding that China would bring its own tanks for the championship outside Moscow.
The Tank Biathlon, which is analogous to the Olympic biathlon discipline, was invented by the Russian military and the first international competition was held in August 2013 in Alabino with the participating crews from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia.
According to the rules of tank biathlon, crews must navigate a distance of 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) evading various obstacles, crossing rivers and bridges and shoot at a set of targets. Tanks that miss a target get a penalty lap.