The Presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, respectively plan to visit together the strategic Zapad (West) 2017 exercise, which will include large-scale maneuvers from both armies. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Vladimir Putin explained to Izvestia newspaper that the two presidents intend to visit one of the training grounds in Russia.
The joint Russian-Belarusian strategic exercise Zapad 2017 will be held from September 14 to September 20, 2017. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, almost 12,700 servicemen will take part in the maneuvers. More than 7,000 of them will represent the army of the Republic of Belarus and about 5,500 will be from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Up to three thousand Russian soldiers will relocate to the territory of Belarus. In total, up to 250 tanks, 200 different artillery systems, 70 aircraft and helicopters and 10 ships will be involved in the exercise.
Operational groups of various Russian ministeries will participate: the Ministry for Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Security Service and the National Guard. Maneuvers will take place at the training grounds located in Belarus, as well as in the Pskov, Kaliningrad and Leningrad regions of Russia.
Putin and Lukashenko last observed the maneuvers of the two armies four years ago, during the Zapad 2013 exercise. They first observed the maneuvers in the Grodno region of Belarus, and then they flew to the Kaliningrad region of Russia to observe marine forces landing on the seacoast.
Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for the Russian president explained to Russia’s newspaper Izvestia that this time the two presidents intend to visit a military training ground in one of the Russian regions.
According to Zapad 2017’s exercise scenarios, groups of extremists penetrated into the territory of Belarus and the Kaliningrad region of Russia with the purpose of carrying out terrorist acts and destabilizing the situation in the allied State. The extremists are supported from the air and from the sea.
The Russian Zapad-2017 military exercises are scheduled for September in Belarus. US allies in Eastern Europe and Ukraine fear that the exercises may be a "Trojan horse" through which Russia plans to leave military equipment in Belarus.