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Russian paratroopers arrive in Belarus for Zapad-2013 military exercises

September 18, 2013, 8:42 UTC+3

The exercises will take place in Mogilev Region, eastern Belarus

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Photo ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

Photo ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, September 18 (Itar-Tass) - The staff and military hardware of the 31st guards separate air assault brigade was airlifted from the Russian city of Ulyanovsk to Belarus to participate in the Zapad-2013 military exercises. The Russian paratroopers arrived at the firing range Osipovichsky, Mogilev Region in eastern Belarus, to participate in the war games, the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.

The Ulyanovsk air assault brigade makes part of the Collective Rapid Response Forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) since 2009. Meanwhile, the brigade is the first Russian airborne formation, which was included in the UN peacekeeping force and was granted the status of peacekeepers last April.

Still, this is the only airborne formation, which is fully staffed by contract servicemen.

The exercises will be observed by military and diplomatic officials accredited at the Belarusian Defense Ministry. Military observers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine will also attend the exercises.

The exercises will take place in Belarus from September 20 to September 26 and involve about 13,000 servicemen, including about 10,000 servicemen from Belarus and 2,500 servicemen from Russia. Over 50 aircraft and helicopters, 350 units of armored vehicles, including about 70 tanks, will be involved in the maneuvers.

The exercises will also involve about 300 servicemen of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They will improve combat skills within the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) Collective Rapid Reaction Force maneuvers code-named Interaction 2013.

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