The “Zapad-2021” (West-2021) joint strategic exercise between Russia and Belarus began simultaneously at 14 military training grounds, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The maneuvers are carried out at nine Russian training grounds – Kirilovsky, Strugi Krasnykh, Mulino, Pogonovo, Khmelevka, Pravdinsky, Dobrovolsky, Dorogobuzh and Volsky;
As well as at five Belarusian ones – Obuz-Lesnovsky, Brestsky, Chepelevo, Domanovsky and Ruzhansky.
The exercises take place on the territory from the Baltic Sea to the Voronezh and Nizhny Novgorod regions. In total, approximately 200,000 servicemen are taking part in addition to more than 80 aircraft and helicopters, up to 760 units of military equipment, including over 290 battle tanks, more than 240 artillery guns, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, and up to 15 ships participate in them.
“Of these, 12,800 people are involved in the exercise on the territory of the Republic of Belarus, including up to 2,500 Russian military personnel, more than 30 aircraft and helicopters, up to 350 units of military equipment, including about 140 tanks, up to 110 guns, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars.” noted in the Ministry of Defense.
In addition to the Russian and Belarusian military, military personnel from Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia are participating in joint actions.
Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are represented by operational teams of officers who became part of the exercise headquarters. Military personnel from China, Vietnam and Myanmar are participating as observers in the drills. In total, about 2,000 military personnel from these countries are participating in the exercises created by the coalition group of forces.
At the same time, the Ministry of Defense stressed that the maximum number of personnel of military units involved in exercises under a single operational command, falling under the Vienna Document of 2011, on the territory of Russia does not exceed 6400 people.
The purpose of the exercises is to test the level of readiness and ability of the military command and control bodies of the forces of Belarus and Russia to take joint actions in solving the tasks of ensuring military security and territorial integrity of the Union State and their interaction in the course of hostilities.
This all took place just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met to negotiate.
Significant progress was made, as the two leaders said they had made progress toward integrating the two countries’ economies.
The two leaders had agreed to coordinate the countries’ macroeconomic policies, institute common tax and customs measures, and harmonise other financial controls as part of a 28-point roadmap that is expected to increase Russia’s influence over its neighbour.
This is a step towards political integration between Moscow and Minsk and it appears that this is significant, actual progress rather than just talk, as the roadmap that was advertised appears to be tangible and real.