MINSK, October 17. /TASS/. The regional group of forces has started its deployment to defend the Russia-Belarus Union State, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin reported on Monday.
"The regional group of Belarusian and Russian troops and forces has begun its deployment and the fulfillment of its tasks for the armed defense of the Union State," the BelTA news agency quoted the defense chief as saying.
"Today, based on the unfolding situation, we are acting step by step and implementing particular measures to ensure the regional force’s preemptive readiness for response to the emerging challenges and threats. We are confident that this will ensure security along the entire perimeter of the borders of the Union State in the East European collective security region," Khrenin said.
All the measures being implemented as part of the regional combat group’s deployment "are just a reaction to actions" by opponents and "the tasks of this group are purely defensive," the Belarusian defense minister stressed.
"Our military policy is still based on the stance that it is more expedient not to engage in saber-rattling but to sit down at the negotiating table and come to terms," Khrenin noted.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on October 10 that Belarus and Russia had begun deploying a regional group of forces mostly made up of Belarusian military personnel. As the Belarusian leader pointed out, the decision to deploy the joint group of forces had been made during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and was prompted by the escalation on the Belarus-Russia Union State’s western border.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry announced on October 15 the arrival of the first military trains with Russian troops in the republic. As the ministry specified, the Russian military contingent in the joint regional group of forces would total about 9,000 personnel and there were plans to deploy about 170 tanks, up to 200 combat armored vehicles and up to 100 artillery guns and mortars to Belarus from Russia.