MOSCOW, September 20 (Itar-Tass) - The Zapad 2013 (West 2013) joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus will be launched in the two countries on Friday, the press office of the Russian Defense Ministry told Itar-Tass.
“During the maneuvers, which will be held at two Belarusian and three Russian firing ranges, including in the Kaliningrad Oblast, as well as in the Baltic Sea, the sides will drill the preparation and use of the regional group of troops (forces) for ensuring military security of the Union State,” the Defense Ministry said. “The exercise participants are to drill interoperability of the staffs of various levels, as well as to carry out linking of the weapons and troops command and control systems.”
The ministry emphasized that the sides will also check the provisions of new statutory documents, developed in the armed forces of Russia and Belarus for the joint employment of troops.
At the first phase of Zapad 2013, the joint command will pay attention to the planning of the employment of the regional group of forces, command and control of troops during their deployment, blocking of the areas of activities of illegal armed groups, build up of the Air Force and Air Defense troops. At the second phase, the issues of command and control of troops in joint actions of the military command and troops at ranges will be addressed. The maneuvers will last until September 26.
The total number of Russian participants in the exercise, the Defense Ministry’s press office reported, will be about 13,000, of which 9,500 of Russian troops will act in Russia, and more than 2,500, mostly paratroopers - in the Belarusian territory.
On Thursday, the Russian Navy ships delivered to the Kaliningrad Oblast two battalions of Belarusian military from the separate guards mobile brigade of special operations forces. Belarusian paratroopers of the 350th Separate Guards Mobile Battalion at the Baltic Fleet ranges together with Russian marines and paratroopers will drill actions to liquidate illegal armed groups and stabilize the situation.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Western counterparts from among NATO countries, as well as other foreign countries had been informed in advance about the Russian-Belarusian maneuvers Zapad 2013. Military representatives from over 60 countries will be observers at the war games. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the contingent of military attaches of foreign countries might expand by the beginning of the exercise. “The military delegations and attaches of the United States, Germany, France, Japan, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Nicaragua and other countries have already confirmed their participation. About 60 foreign representatives are expected to attend. The invited foreign military experts will be familiarized with a tactical episode of the Zapad 2013 joint military exercises, conducted in the Kaliningrad Oblast,” the Defense Ministry earlier informed. “This openness of the Russian Ministry of Defense,” the ministry officials believe, “will promote strengthening security in the Euro-Atlantic space.”
The joint strategic exercise Zapad 2013 is an event of joint training of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus held every two years in accordance with the decision taken by the two heads of state in 2009.