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Report on preparations for Belarus-Russia joint strategic army exercise West 2017

20 March 2017

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has approved the concept of the Belarus-Russia joint strategic army exercise West 2017 after the government session at the Palace of Independence on 20 March.

According to the head of state, the international situation is such that the armed forces do their best to improve skills and raise the level of training of the regional Belarus-Russia taskforcefor the protection of the western borders of the UnionState. “The forthcoming army exercise is the best way to test the readiness of soldiers of the two countries for interaction. This is how we enhance our joint defense capacity and will do it in the future,” the President said.

Alexander Lukashenko recalled that many years ago Belarus and Russia agreed to hold such army exercises in one of the two countries by rotation. Now it is Belarus’ turn.

The President remarked that Belarus and Russia have created a strong group of armed forces in the western direction, and the Belarusian army makes up the basis of this group. “In case of a conflict or, God forbid, a war the Belarusian Armed Forces will use a certain battle scenario and will be immediately enforced by the corresponding army units from the Russian Federation,” the head of state said. “We have always believed that you need to keep powder dry in peacetime.”

“I would like to emphasize for the mass media that in spite of the opinions of certain ‘experts’ no one is going to phase out the military cooperation with Russia because we have the disagreements in other areas. On the contrary, the army exercise is a demonstration of our consistency in the maintenance of security of the two brotherly nations,” the head of state said.

“Oil, gas, food and other issues in our relations are solvable. These are the issues of Belarus and Russia. However, it is inadmissible to be careless about the security and defense of our common borders,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

The head of state also stressed that the army exercise West should be as transparent as possible. “I want all of you to do your best to make it transparent and accessible for our friends from the CSTO, EEU, CIS and for the representatives of the North Atlantic Alliance NATO. We do not conceal anything and should not conceal anything. If NATO representatives want to attend our army exercise, they are welcome. Moreover, I already get such information and such signals from their side,” the President stated.

“I want to reiterate for those sending these signals: we do not conceal anything from anyone. You will see that this army exercise is purely defense oriented. You will see that Belarus and Russia are not going to attack anyone and are not going to provoke anyone here. This is not the case. We are getting ready to ensure our security in any situation just to be on the safe side,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The President also commented on the attempts to aggravate the situation in Belarus. “I cannot say that there are too many problems in this regard, that there is a certain confrontation between our Belarusian-Russian group and the units of the North Atlantic Alliance which, obviously, has become more active today, is deploying additional forces near our borders. Frankly speaking, it concerns us to a lesser degree,” the President remarked. “We are more concerned about the attempts to apply modern methods of confrontation to aggravate the situation in Belarus and to carry out corresponding activities against it.”

“This pertains to the attempt of our ‘fifth column’ with the financial assistance (we can trace it, I do not threaten anyone), of western funds and with the guidance of western intelligence services to encourage our roughnecks, who have run away from the country abroad, to destabilize the situation in Belarus,” Alexander Lukashenko explained.

“We will cope with this. It is not a problem,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

The head of state also mentioned the attempts to violate the state border. These include the attempts to transport weapons and other dangerous items and materials. “For example, today’s incident on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border when our border guards had to use arms. There were the cases on the western border connected with some powder-filled shells (the investigation is underway),” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Radioactive materials were detected on board the plane flying from Armenia to one of the European countries through Belarus.

“Please inform me about the results of the investigation into the incidents that happened on the state border today,” the President said.

“All that shows that we should stay on the lookout. We must keep our eyes open and keep the situation in our country stable,” the head of state concluded.

The head of state also asked the Defense Minister to brief him on the state of affairs in the Belarusian army, on the current problems and the ways to solve them this year.

“Having understood that the forthcoming army exercise is an important event in the training of the armies of the two states, I would like you to evaluate the efficiency of the bilateral military cooperation with Russia,” Alexander Lukashenko said. “It is also important for me in the run-up to the possible session of the Supreme State Council. If there are any problems, I would like to outline them for the leadership of Russia and to call for the more efficient cooperation within the framework of our defense agreements in the UnionState.”

The President was interested in the major tasks of the joint army exercise, the order of their fulfillment, the structure of involved army units, the regions hosting the event, and the expected practical results.

The head of state instructed the Defense Ministry to focus on the issues of interaction with the state government and local authorities in all aspects of the military exercise. In this context, he remarked that in case of a conflict on the territory of Belarus not only the Armed Forces but the entire population will be involved.

“Do not think that in case of a conflict only the army will act while the others will sit idle waiting for the results,” Alexander Lukashenko underlined. “We are preparing people, in particular, by organizing territorial defense forces. Apart from the territorial defense forces, we are preparing the entire population for protecting the territory of our country and the interests of our state.”

“The arrival and stay of the Russian army on our territory should leave only positive emotions for our army officers and soldiers. These are our people. We must ensure our defense and security together,” the Belarusian leader added.

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© 2017, The Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus