MOSCOW, September 9. /TASS/. A special ceremony heralding the beginning of a joint strategic exercise of the Russian and Belarusian armed forces Zapad-2021 was held at the Mulino proving ground in the Nizhny Novgorod Region, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
"The Zapad-2021 exercise is purely defensive. Its purpose is to train personnel in conducting combat operations in current conditions and enhance the operative compatibility of military command bodies of our allies and friendly states," Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov is quoted as saying.
He remarked that the exercise is unique in scale. "The scope, the list of participants and the number personnel and pieces of military equipment involved are evidence of the growing importance of joint military training."
Taking part in the ceremony were military servicemen from the units of the Western Military Region, staff officials and the personnel of military contingents delegated by Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
The Russian-Belarusian strategic exercise Zapad is held once in two years. Zapad-2021 is the final phase of joint training by the two countries' armed forces this year. The exercise will be conducted on September 10-16 at nine sites in Russia, the Baltic Sea, and also five sites in Belarus.
Participating in the exercise will be up to 200,000 officers and men, about 80 planes and helicopters, up to 760 pieces of military equipment, including 290 tanks, 240 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and 15 ships.