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Russia-Belarus strategic military drills to involve over 10,000 troops

Up to 680 pieces of military hardware will be used in the drills

MINSK, July 17. /TASS/. Over 10,000 Russian and Belarusian troops will take part in the joint strategic drills dubbed Zapad-2017 (West-2017), Belarus’ Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Andrei Ravkov told TASS on Monday.

"Up to 12,700 servicemen are planned to be involved in the drills. About 10,200 troops will be involved on the territory of our country, including 7,200 servicemen from the Belarusian Armed Forces and about 3,000 from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," he said.

According to the general, up to 680 pieces of military hardware will be used in the drills.

The Zapad-2017 joint strategic drills are of planned nature and will be held by decision of the presidents of both countries, the general stressed.

"The military exercise is the demonstration of our continuity in ensuring the security of both fraternal peoples," he said.

As the Belarusian defense minister said, "this exercise is not a response to the buildup of NATO’s military component near the borders of our states, although these actions cause natural concern of the leadership of the Union State."

As the defense minister explained, during the drills the militaries of both countries will practice "improving the inter-operability of headquarters at various levels and linking the advanced systems of troops and armament command and control."

"It is important to test the provisions of new statutory regulations developed in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus," Ravkov said, noting that it was also necessary for the senior command, commanders and headquarters to get the practice of planning military measures for stabilization and troops’ command and control.

Practical exercises for the bodies of military governance and troops will be held in Belarus at the Lepel, Borisov, Losvido and Osipovichi training ranges, the Ruzhansky and Domanovsky Air Force and Air Defense Force practice grounds and also on the terrain near the community of Dretun, the general said.

"As for the scope of the exercise, this is the largest event of the joint operational training of the Armed Forces from both countries," the general said.

On the eve of the Russia-Belarus strategic drills, about 40 joint operational and combat training events have been held, including special exercises by the type of logistic support, the Belarusian defense minister said.