Military cooperation between Belarus and Russia is in the two countries’ national interests and is not aimed against anyone, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said while reviewing the troops that took part in the Zapad-2017 joint drills at the Borisovsky training range.
“We maintain the necessary defense capabilities and take joint measures to counter military threats to Belarus and Russia, as well as to improve the capabilities of the regional forces,” the Belarusian leader said.
At the same time, Lukashenko stressed that “joint military activities and cooperation with Russia in conducting drills are not aimed against any country and only serve defense purposes.” He also pointed out that by boosting military cooperation, Belarus and Russia did not threaten anyone. “We have never threatened anyone and we have no intention to do that,” Lukashenko said.
“Threats and wars never came from our land, but those who invaded this land were always repelled. This is the idea behind our drills. There is no other idea and should not be,” the Belarusian president noted.
On Wednesday, the Zapad-2017 joint Russian-Belarusian military drills, which kicked off on September 14, concluded at the Borisovsky training range in Belarus.
The exercises, held at six training ranges in Belarus and three training ranges in Russia, involved up to 12,700 troops (with 10,200 troops in Belarus), around 70 aircraft, up to 680 pieces of military equipment, including 250 tanks, up to 200 guns, mortars and multiple-launch rocket systems, as well as ten vessels.
Observers from seven countries, including NATO member states, monitored the drills.
TAPA TRAINING AREA, Estonia — Fighting winds from the whirling helicopter blades overhead, U.S. Army Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade hit the ground running during a dry fire exercise alongside the British army’s Fire Support Company, 5th Battalion, “The Rifles,” 20th Armored Brigade on September 13, 2017 at Tapa Training Area, Estonia.
The 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment is currently participating in several exercises across Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia as a part of Bayonet Shield, a region-wide exercise taking place to display operational agility between the U.S. and its NATO allies and partners.
The exercise started with the troops of both armies making a descent from UH-60 Black Hawks provided by the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division to conduct a foray into the Estonian woods to engage targets while moving through several training scenarios.
The exercise consisted of breaching and clearing structures, delivering mortar fire on enemy positions, successfully evading chemical attacks, and tending to wounded soldiers before being evacuated from the area via helicopter. While this type of training may be normal for soldiers training for the battlefield, the new Baltic-area environment gave the troops a fresh perspective on being ready to fight. British army Lance Cpl. Robert Davis, the section second-in-command for the reconnaissance team, Fire Support Company, 5th Battalion, “The Rifles,” spoke on how the change of scenery was beneficial to all soldiers involved.
“Being in Estonia offers us opportunities to train in a dense wooded area that we’re not familiar with, as well as once again train with a foreign nation,” he said.
This is one of the first times during Bayonet Shield that British forces have been integrated into a cavalry company to support them directly on the battlefield. U.S. Army Capt. Erik Olsen, assistant planning officer for 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, detailed the importance of working closely with allies.
“Working with other nations is a big deal because it provides the type of training we shoot for. In case there’s ever a real world situation, we need to already know how we can work together in the field,” he said.
This event allowed U.S. and British soldiers to come together under a unified command to successfully achieve objectives in a new field environment. Davis shared his feelings on the opportunity to train under these conditions.
“It’s good to see how allies that we are very close with operate, because it gives us an understanding of the way they do things. During future operations we’ll have the ability to integrate our forces better and learn off each other faster,” he said.
TALLINN, Sep 13, BNS – Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik and his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinisto during their meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday discussed defense cooperation and matters related to the Zapad joint large scale military exercise of Russia and Belarus.
Luik and Niinisto talked about the regional security situation in view of the Zapad large scale exercise and bilateral defense cooperation, spokespeople for the Estonian Defense Ministry said.
Also discussed was defense cooperation within the European Union, which has been supported also by Finland.
During an informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Tallinn last week, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the Estonian minister of defense both expressed hope that important decisions concerning EU defense cooperation will be reached already by the end of this year.
Finland is positively minded about EU defense cooperation and is waiting for practical solutions.
Luik also visited the Hietaniemi cemetery in Helsinki and laid wreaths to honor fallen soldiers.
During the meeting Deputy Minister Szatkowski thanked Minister Lancaster for UK involvement in the implementation of the NATO Summit in Warsaw decisions, including the participation of the British company in the NATO battlegroup stationed in Poland.
The interlocutors positively assessed the cooperation in the framework of NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). This year the VJTF is led by the United Kingdom and the Polish Armed Forces assigned a component to them. In 2020 Poland will be the VJTF framework state and the British battalion will participate. Mr. Szatkowski expressed his hope for further deepening of the Polish-British cooperation in strengthening NATO’s eastern flank and security in the region.
Ministers discussed issues related to the preparation of the new Polish-British Defense Cooperation Treaty. They also discussed further NATO military adaptation and matters related to the development of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), also in the context of the ‘Brexit’.
In the next part of the meeting they discussed the prospects for cooperation of the Polish Territorial Defense Force with the Reserve Forces of Great Britain and cooperation between special forces of both countries.
After the plenary talks, the ministers paid a visit to the NATO battlegroup in Bemowo Piskie where British soldiers serve. They also visited Multinational Division North-East in Elblag formed as a part of NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
During his stay in Warsaw Minister Lancaster also met with Marek Magierowski the Undersecretary of State for Economic Diplomacy, American and Asian Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The visit to Poland is a part of the Minister Lancaster journey to the countries in which the British troops are deployed within the framework of the eFP. In next days he will also visit Ukraine.
The Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Jarmo Lindberg, and the Director General of the Resource Policy Department of the Finnish Ministry of Defence, Raimo Jyväsjärvi, hosted a defence cooperation meeting in Helsinki on 18 August 2017.
The Ukrainian-Russian war has prompted Bratislava, Prague and Budapest to take a new look at their eastern neighbourhood. Cooperation with Ukraine is gaining momentum, although relations with Russia are still the top priority for the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Diplomatic contacts with Kyiv have been rekindled, and the Visegrad Group has intensified its political support for Ukraine within the EU. The big success in the relationship between the V4 countries and Ukraine has been their booming energy cooperation.
However, the pro-Russian gestures made by some leading politicians from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary remain a challenge for relations between Bratislava, Budapest, Prague and Kyiv. Co-operation between Budapest and Kyiv is further complicated by the dispute over the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.
Kyiv’s top priority in foreign policy has traditionally been cooperation with wealthier countries, as well as those states seen as the key players in NATO and the EU (especially the US, Germany and France).
Kyiv treats the Visegrad Group primarily as a useful forum for lobbying for Ukraine’s interests in the EU and NATO. On the other hand, it is less interested in using the V4 as a platform for strengthening regional and bilateral cooperation with the countries of Central Europe.
Jakub Groszkowski, Tadeusz Iwański, Andrzej Sadecki
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2017 — Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan discussed a variety of issues today in a phone call with Harriett Baldwin, the United Kingdom’s undersecretary of state and defense procurement minister, Navy Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, Shanahan’s spokesperson, said in a statement.
“The leaders discussed defense issues, including NATO, bilateral exercises, changing technologies and procurement innovation,” Higgins said. “They also spoke about the restructure of the Department of Defense’s acquisition, technology, and logistics and chief management officer organizations.”
Shanahan lauded the value of the close U.S.-U.K. security partnership, Higgins said, and he noted that bilateral capability cooperation will be instrumental in enabling their forces to better confront current and emerging threats.
In addition, Higgins said, Shanahan conveyed the high value the U.S. places on British investment in strong defense capabilities, including its two aircraft carriers and F-35B aircraft.
The two leaders agreed to maintain regular dialogue on shared security interests and the bilateral defense agenda, she added.
Policy experts, diplomats and military representatives met on Friday to discuss maritime cooperation between NATO and the European Union.
The meeting, hosted at Norway House in Brussels, was designed to draw lessons for future cooperation at sea, building on NATO-EU experience in countering piracy in the Indian Ocean and working side-by-side in the Mediterranean. Participants discussed all aspects of maritime cooperation: from planning through execution and post-crisis management, as well as legal considerations and the contributions of industry.
NATO and the European Union have built a solid track record of effective cooperation in the maritime domain. NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield and the EU’s Operation Atalanta worked side-by-side for several years, fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. NATO and the EU have also worked together in the Mediterranean.
Since February 2016, NATO ships have been supporting the EU in tackling illegal migration in the Aegean Sea. In July 2016, NATO launched a new maritime operation, Sea Guardian, which supports some of EU Operation Sophia’s activities in the Mediterranean Sea.
The seminar is part of 42 cooperation measures which NATO and the EU agreed in December 2016. The event is organised with the support of the Mission to Norway to the EU and the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU.
NATO and the European Union reinforce each other in a wide range of areas, from cooperation at sea, through resilience to hybrid threats, to helping build the defence capacities of partner countries.
In a joint report, presented yesterday to NATO Ministers of Defence, NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and EU High Representative/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini confirmed that this cooperation is developing well and will continue, potentially expanding to new areas.
Finance Minister Petteri Orpo says he backs deeper cooperation with other European Union member states, including on developing defence capacities.
In a Yle interview published on Sunday, Orpo said it would benefit Finland to be among the countries spearheading a common defence capability for the EU.
“If we spend one euro on developing a common European defence, we get 10 euros’ worth of security back, to put it simply,” he said. “It’s in Finland’s interest to be in the group that is moving fastest to develop the EU’s defence, even if that group operates at different speeds if need be.”
Outside the NATO club
Orpo admits however that while the Finnish government would probably not have any problem with deepening cooperation, problems might crop on the practical level due to member states’ differing needs.
“European Union countries have different needs. Most EU states are NATO members, and we aren’t. Therefore from Finland’s point of view, whatever we can do together to improve defence capabilities would benefit us,” he noted.
Former interior minister Orpo leads the conservative National Coalition Party, traditionally one of Finland’s most pro-NATO parties.
RIGA, 2 July (LETA) – The Czech Republic and Slovakia will also contribute troops to the Canada-led multinational NATO battalion in Latvia next year, Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens/Farmers), who is attending a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, told LETA.
“The two countries’ decisions to send their soldiers to this battle group in Latvia are pleasant, and I am very thankful,” the Latvian minister said, adding that the arrival of the Czech and Slovak troops will also represent a challenge to Latvia as a host country.
Talks are under way with Canada, the battle group’s lead nation, on the number of troops.
The minister noted that a Slovak mechanized infantry company already spent several months in Latvia this past spring to boost security. The Slovak infantry company was deployed to Latvia in line with an agreement, reached at NATO’s Warsaw summit, on Visegrad countries’ involvement in bolstering the Baltic states’ security. The Slovak infantrymen have already left Latvia.
The meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels is still ongoing, with the ministers discussing the implementation of the agreements reached at the 2016 Warsaw summit, the significance of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltics and Poland, strengthening transatlantic ties, raising member states’ defense budgets, the Alliance’s involvement in combating terrorism, as well as EU-NATO cooperation.