MINSK, October 24. /TASS/. The ‘Union Shield-2019’ drills will be solely defensive and will become the main combat training event for the armed forces of Russia and Belarus next year, Russia’s Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday.
The Russian defense minister made this statement as he summed up the results of a joint board meeting of the defense ministries of Russia and Belarus.
The troops’ operational and combat training remains an important area of interaction between the defense ministries of both countries, Shoigu said.
"The ‘Union Shield-2019’ military exercises will become the main event of the next year. They are intended to demonstrate our common resolve and ability to defend the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of both states," Shoigu stressed.
As the Russian defense minister said, the ministries’ board meeting approved the general concept of the drills.
"First and foremost, and I would like everyone to hear that, our drills are solely of defensive nature. We do not plan any offensive actions as compared to the [NATO] military exercises [Trident Juncture], which our colleagues are beginning literally tomorrow. We, undoubtedly, are doing this not as a response to some drills but as a response to the threats which exist today and which, to our big regret, grow every year," the Russian defense minister said.
Belarusian Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Andrei Ravkov said that the defense ministries of both countries had the same assessments of challenges and threats to regional security.
The Russian defense minister also said that the decisions made at the joint board meeting were called upon to ensure closer interaction of the defense ministries of both countries, strengthen military security of the Russia-Belarus Union State and build up in a planned manner the potential of responding to emerging challenges and threats.
"The Republic of Belarus is a reliable military ally of Russia. We pay close attention to developing the regional grouping of our armed forces and that is why most of the issues that we examined related to its improvement," the Russian defense minister said.
The drills dubbed ‘Trident Juncture’ will involve about 50,000 servicemen from 31 countries (29 NATO member states, Finland and Sweden), more than 100 aircraft and dozens of warships. The maneuvers will be held on October 25 - November 7. Norway will be the main country hosting the drills while Finland will act as a partner. The maneuvers will be organized in Norway, Sweden and Finland.