MINSK, 20 September (BelTA) - The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 is nearing completion, BelTA has learned.
The focus of the final day, 20 September, will be on the 227th combined arms exercise area (Borisovsky). President of Belarus and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is expected to watch a major episode of the ongoing army exercise. Top-ranking officers of the Russian army, top officials of integration structures — the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as well as foreign observers and diplomats are expected to be present in the army exercise area.
From a viewing platform Alexander Lukashenko will be able to evaluate the level of cohesion between army units in the course of a defensive action.
The Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 kicked off on 14 September. In Belarus the regular army exercise areas Lepelsky, Borisovsky, Losvido, Osipovichsky, and the Air Force exercise areas Ruzhansky and Domanovo are used for the exercise in addition to two regular sectors of terrain in Vitebsk Oblast — Dretun and Glubokoye. In Russia the army exercise areas Luzhsky, Strugi Krasnyye, and Pravdinsky in Kaliningrad Oblast, Leningrad Oblast, and Pskov Oblast are used for the exercise.
Modern approaches to using armed forces and the experience of modern armed conflicts were taken into account when the concept of the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 was put together. The concept stems from a crisis situation, which gets aggravated due to activities of illegal armed groups, international separatist and terrorist organizations enjoying outside support. For the purposes of the exercise, the warring parties are located within real borders of Belarus: the Northerners, which include the Union State of Belarus and Russia, and the Westerners, which are represented by a coalition of interested countries.
Some 12,700 military personnel are taking part in the Zapad 2017 exercise. About 10,200 troops have been deployed in Belarus, with Belarus contributing slightly more than 7,000 people and Russia supplying about 3,000 troops. The Belarusian part of the exercise also involved a total of 370 armored vehicles, including about 140 combat tanks. Up to 150 artillery units and multiple-launch rocket systems, over 40 aircraft and helicopters were deployed as well.
Belarus has invited dozens of observers to watch the exercise, including those representing international organizations such as the UN, OSCE, NATO, the CIS, the CSTO, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and also military attaches accredited with their embassies in Belarus – a total of more than 80 people. Military observers from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Sweden, and Norway have come to watch the exercise.
About 270 foreign mass media outlets have applied for accreditation to cover the army exercise in Belarus. Applications have been received from news agencies, publications and TV channels from all the neighboring countries, and also the UK, Germany, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States, Turkey, Finland, France, and Sweden. The army exercise is also covered by journalists from Qatar, South Korea and Japan.