Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017

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The goals of the Belarusian-Russian joint military exercise Zapad 2017 have been attained, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko told the media after surveying the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 on 20 September.

Aleksandr Lukashenko visited an auxiliary command post of the Belarusian-Russian regional military force and an auxiliary command post of the 1st Guards Tank Army of the Western Military District of Russia’s Armed Forces. The head of state heard out a report on the military and political situation in the European region and its influence on military security in the Belarus-RussiaUnionState. He was also briefed on the deployment of troops and the interaction with the military force in the northwestern operational direction.

Aleksandr Lukashenko got familiarized with a portable post of the commander-in-chief of the regional military force. The Belarusian-made armored vehicle is fitted with cutting-edge communications in order to command the troops directly on the move. “Good job! It took a little time to design such a good system,” the President noted.

The Belarusian-Russian combined armed forces were practicing working together to repulse an enemy assault, to counter-attack and defeat the imaginary enemy. Belarus and Russia were also testing new products of the Belarusian defense industry. Attending the army exercise were top officials of the integration associations, namely the Belarus-RussiaUnionState, the CIS, the CSTO, and also foreign observers and diplomats.

After the active phase of the exercise Alexander Lukashneko inspected the troops and presented awards to the military. Aleksandr Lukashenko also pointed out that the exercise had been the most significant and largest occasion for training Belarusian and Russian command and control organizations and troops this year.

“It is symbolic that this exercise has been held in Belarus, which saw an all-out nationwide resistance movement during World War Two. We remember and take pride in the deeds accomplished by the generation of victors, who saved mankind from fascism. We have to do everything to improve common military security if we want to be their worthy successors,” the Belarusian leader stated.

The president noted that military activities are on the rise all over the world. In these conditions Belarus works together with the brotherly country of Russia to ensure the security of the UnionState of Belarus and Russia and the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in the Eastern Europe region. “We are doing everything to maintain the necessary military potential and take concerted measures to prevent military threats to Belarus and Russia, to improve the operation of the regional military force. At the same time the joint military activity and cooperation with Russia in arranging army exercises are not directed against third countries. They serve only to protect our national interests,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

According to the head of state, representatives of the military diplomacy corps and multiple international organizations, who were present in the final stage of the exercise, have been able to make sure of that.

“The exercise went in line with the approved concept. Its goals have been reached. Training missions have been completed in a quality manner. Joint defense in conditions of modern challenges and security threats was practiced at a decent level,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said when summing up the results of the Zapad 2017 exercise.

The army exercise also allowed improving the level of cohesion of command and control organizations and the operational compatibility of staffs of different levels. The exercise also improved the ability of Belarusians and Russians to work together in combat situations. “Commanding officers and staffs had some good practice planning actions of their troops. Strong skills and combat mastery was demonstrated by personnel of various army units, which belong to the regional military force,” the head of state noted.

The army exercise also allowed testing new army regulations, determining future ways of cooperation for the sake of bolstering the armed forces and the defensive capability of the two countries.

The President congratulated the military personnel on the successful completion of the army exercise. He wished them every success in their military service in the name of security and peaceful labor of the two brotherly nations. “I commend all the personnel, who took part in the Zapad 2017 army exercise in Belarus,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

He added it was not the first time he had taken part in the Zapad 2017 army exercise. “There is something personal in this exercise for every senior officer, for every general, and for me,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

In particular, the head of state recalled the Zapad 1981 army exercise. “I happened to participate in that exercise as a very young lieutenant. If I had to compare that exercise and this one, I’d say that the skills and the standards have improved by a significant margin. You are totally different soldiers and officers. Yet we have the same goals — protecting the independence of our states, our national interests, and simply our families,” the President stressed. “We have not threatened anyone and are not going to. Threats and wars have never originated from our lands but invaders have always been duly repelled. It is the ideological component of our army exercises. There must be no other.”

The Pesident also answered the journalists’ questions about the results of the army exercise, and the information atmosphere around it.

The head of state said he did not notice any drawbacks in the course of the exercise. “Everything was at a very high level. It was not a sham exercise. It was an absolutely practical exercise showing as everything will happen, God forbid, in reality,” he said. “The objectives which we set out before the exercise were achieved in the training grounds in Belarus and in Russia. We drilled all elements of the exercise. We will analyze the results more closely later. But in general the objectives have been met.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed gratitude to all the journalists who, in his words, did an excellent job covering both the preparation stage and the exercise itself.

The President stressed that the attempt to discredit the Belarusian-Russian military exercise was extremely unprofessional. He advised those who attempted to discredit the Belarusian-Russian military exercises “to learn to do it.” "Let’s wait until all the troops of Russia and Belarus return to the places of permanent deployment and see what they will say then," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Speaking about the Russian military presence, he said that this issue will lose importance in a week’s time. “Do not worry, we are not aggressive. We suffered a lot during the war just like you did, even though it was you who fought against us. This is why neither of us wants war. Our population has just reached the pre-war level. We have never started wars. We suffered from them,” the head of state responded to the question of a German journalist.

Aleksandr Lukashenko that he wants the Belarusian people to know that the state can protect them if need be. “I just want security which every state aspires to. Do not fear that we will attack you. We will not attack anyone: either Germany, or Poland, or the Baltic countries, let alone the fraternal Ukraine,” he stressed.

The President noted that the previous military exercises have seen a similar amount of Russian troops. “Your friends need to calm down. They do not need to worry. We are not going to fight a war against anyone if we are left alone. This is our biggest guarantee,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He stressed that with the Belarusian army strength at 75,000 men, the presence of several thousands of Russian troops in Belarus would change nothing. “If we need to solve any problem we will solve it. In case of any clash in the western direction, it is the Belarusian army who enters the war first to protect the interests of Russia and Belarus. Then the Russian Armed Forces will instantly deploy its units here, according to our military plans,” the Belarusian leader said.

"We are not going to attack anyone. But if we are attacked we will strike back," Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

The head of state also answered the question about the participation of Russia President Vladimir Putin in the army exercise. “We reached an agreement that since the main action will take place here [in Belarus] while a lot of action will take place in Leningrad Oblast, the President of Russia will keep an eye on the wargames in the north while I will do the same in the center,” he said.

“I am grateful to our military and the Russian side for giving me an opportunity to observe the main phase in the center. Initially we intended to observe the exercise together but later on we came to understand that we should see more of the exercise so that people could see where the presidents work and how,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

One of the reporters asked about the development of army in Belarus and the modernization of the military-industrial complex. The head of state spoke about the profound modernization of existing weapon systems.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was confident that it is not necessary to buy new expensive defense products for millions of U.S. dollars if the available systems can be upgraded to achieve comparable performance. “We know how to accomplish it, including aerial vehicles, armored vehicles, and firearms,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

At the same time, new weapon systems are being developed. The multiple-launch rocket system Polonez or Belarus-made armored vehicles are some of them. The head of state drew attention to the fact that Belarusian defense companies are working primarily on weapons and materiel, which may come in handy in conditions of modern military conflicts. “We will not see a war of one frontline vs. another frontline. There will be local battles. We need very mobile troops for defense. The latest wars encourage us towards having mobile units,” he stated.

“The cutting-edge high-precision weapons of the Polonez variety. We are working very seriously on that. I don’t want to reveal details but we are definitely working. We have accomplished a lot as far as unmanned aerial vehicles are concerned. These days it is impossible to wage a war without drones. Certainly, we also create attack drones. They are indispensable. They will go into service soon,” the Belarusian leader said.

Belarus has managed to preserve its defense industry companies and R&D potential. They are in demand. “We have learned how to make things in every area and are going to expand the spectrum. Not only because we need good weapons for our army. There is a great demand for profound modernization and new defense products in the world. What we know how to make we make not only for ourselves. We sell these products on international markets, too,” noted the head of state.

The President made it clear that Belarus makes nothing forbidden and does not supply it to other countries either.