Aleksandr Lukashenko approves concept of Belarus-Russia army exercise Zapad 2013

    Conducting the strategic exercise of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation Zapad 2013 (West 2013) in Belarus threatens no one, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said on 21 February as he heard out the report on the concept of the upcoming army exercise.

    “In response to the West’s recent statements and speculations about the exercise in the form of ‘a threat from the East’, I would like to underline that we are not going to threaten anyone. We do not consider any country our enemy. We have a defense doctrine and the law clearly states it,” the President said.

    According to the head of state, Belarus welcomes anything what promotes peace. “Yes we do not accept the policy of threats and double standards. It is the power and clarity of our foreign policy. We act openly and consistently, focusing on collective defense,” the head of state noted.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that the strengthening of the common military security system and the buildup of the capacity to protect the Union State are determined as priority tasks and the fact is widely acknowledged. “With this in mind, we develop the regional military force of Belarus and Russia, which is based on the Belarusian army. Its potential has to be maintained at a level able to repulse any aggression whatever the source may be,” the President said.

    “It is especially relevant in our time of turmoil. We are witnessing an escalation of armed violence and mass bloodshed in the international arena. This is why we have to be prepared. Let me remind you a simple truth: an army has to learn to fight; it is the duty of the army. An army has to always be ready to protect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of its country. In this case we are talking about the defense capability, in a manner of speaking, of the joint army of Belarus and Russia, the regional military force in the western direction. It is our area of responsibility,” the head of state stressed.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that in 2009 together with the Russian President the decision was made to take turns to hold regular joint army exercises in the territory of Belarus and Russia. This year the exercise will take place in Belarus.

    According to the head of state, in recent years the Belarusian army has done a lot to develop various combat systems, special operations forces and the territorial defense. “We have not tried to hide the fact that just like the Russians we are adapting our army to the challenges and threats that exist or can exist today. We are busy raising the level of military and technical cooperation with our strategic ally Russia and with other CSTO member states,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko added that military achievements will have to be tested during the upcoming army exercise. He also gave instructions to thoroughly calculate and plan everything before getting down to working on training matters.

    Following the report the head of state approved the concept of conducting the Zapad 2013 army exercise and gave instructions to make necessary additions. The exercise is scheduled to take place in Autumn 2013.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko urged to draw closer attention to the practical side, involve the territorial defense troops and bodies in the exercise. More focus should also be given to the organization of cooperation between administration agencies and the national security system.
    It is peculiar that the upcoming army exercise will involve not only the regional military force of Belarus and Russia, but also the collective rapid response forces of the CSTO.