Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Large-scale military exercise begins in Belarus

A Belarusian-Russian military exercise called Zapad-2009 (West-2009) on Friday kicked off in Belarus as the two countries are seeking to test their capabilities to ensure the Union State’s security and readiness to repel a possible military aggression.

The first stage of the large-scale exercise will take place between September 18 and 22 and will focus on preparations for a defensive operation by the Belarusian-Russian Regional Group of Forces.

At the second, final stage, which will be held between September 23 and 29, the involved troops will practice repelling air strikes, while the management of military units during efforts to retain defensive positions also will be practiced.

The maneuvers are expected to involve some 12,600 military servicemen, including some 6,500 Belarusian army personnel, around 6,000 Russian army staff and roughly 30 Kazakh servicemen. The number includes 1,800 reservists called up for the exercise.

Taking part in the wargame are a group of Russian officers serving with the Joint Command of the Belarusian-Russian Regional Group of Forces, the 20th Army of the Moscow Military District, the Russian Air Force, the Military Transport Aviation Command, and the 98th Paratroops Division.

The exercise involves staff of the Belarusian interior, emergency management, health and transport ministries, the Committee for State Security and the State Border Committee.

The event will feature more than 220 tanks, 470 armored personnel carriers, 230 self-propelled and truck-drawn artillery guns, mortars and multiple rocket launchers, as well as 60 warplanes and 40 helicopters.

The Abuz-Lyasnowski training ground in the Brest region will become the main venue of the exercise. The active stage of the maneuvers will take place there on September 29.

Belarusian air defense units will hold a live-fire exercise at the Ashuluk and Telemba training grounds in Russia as part of the maneuvers.

A separate exercise will take place at a training ground near Barysaw, Minsk region, on September 27 and 28. Its scenario has been drawn up by the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff and is not connected with Zapad-2009.