Estonia will accept the invitation by Belarus to send observers to the Zapad military drill to be jointly held by Russian and Belarusian armed forces this September, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces has stated.
Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces General Riho Terras has said this week in an interview with Eesti Päevaleht newspaper that Zapad exercises have taken place for decades already, also during the Soviet times.
Terras noted that this summer, Belarus and Russia have already conducted preparatory joint exercises testing communications in July and currently a demonstrative drill is taking place in Pskov, not far from Estonia and Latvia.
«It is important that we know what is going on. (..) That we know in detail what is going on, that we keep track of it and be prepared. But we must also be prepared when exercises aren’t being conducted. I don’t think that anything will occur in the framework of field exercises which could spill over to our side or which we will tangibly be able to see,» ERR cited Terras as evaluating in the interview.
STRUGI KRASNYE /Pskov region/, August 10. /TASS/. Russia’s Airborne Force and the Belarusian Special Operations Force (SOF) plan to hold joint military exercises near the western Russian city of Pskov, near the Estonian border in September, SOF First Deputy Chief of Staff Colonel Viktor Gulevish said on Thursday.
“We have been considering issues concerning our joint military drills, they are going to be battalion task exercises,” the Belarusian colonel said that a battalion of the Vitebsk Regiment would represent the country in the drills.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the military exercises are planned to be held at the base where the 76th Guards Air Assault Division of the Russian Airborne Force is deployed, which is located on the outskirts of the city of Pskov, as part of the Zapad-2017 (or West 2017) strategic drills.
A delegation of the Belarusian Special Operations Force has arrived to monitor the drills of Russia’s 104th Air Assault Regiment, currently taking place near Pskov.
Gulevich, who heads the Belarusian delegation, said that he had been greatly impressed by the large scale of the military exercises. “We have the same training system, only our tasks slightly differ,” he said. “We could never imagine any task that would stipulate such large-scale drills,” he added.
The Belarusian colonel also commended the efficiency of new military hardware being used during the drills, which particularly includes the BMD-4M airborne assault vehicles and Rakushka armored personnel carriers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated the Airborne Force personnel and veteran paratroopers on the Airborne Force Day, yesterday, the Kremlin press service said.
“Today, we pay homage to the courageous and strong spirited people who chose the hard and demanding but honorable service in the Airborne Force,” the president said in his congratulatory message. “They value their brothers in arms more than anything and are always ready to stand up for the defense of our Homeland. And of course, I would like to offer my most sincere gratitude to veteran paratroopers, who courageously wrote the history of the legendary Airborne Force,” Putin added.
He stressed that soldiers and military officers continued to serve their country with dignity and honor, “they keep the military traditions of their predecessors and handle all the tasks set before them, showing excellent training skills, unity and devotion to duty.”
August 2 marked the 87th anniversary of the Russian Airborne Force as on August 2 1930, a Russian paratrooper unit consisting of 12 people conducted the first parachute jumps during military exercises which took place near the city of Voronezh. In 1932, the massive establishment of airborne units began.
According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the main goal of the Russian Airborne Force is participating in containment activities in strategic areas and fulfilling tasks in cooperation with other military branches aimed at resolving crisis situations in the period of threat and in the time of war. In the time of peace, the Russian Airborne Force continues to perform tasks concerning strategic deterrence and may also take part in peacekeeping operations.
Russia’s Airborne Force currently contains two air assault divisions – the 76th Guards Air Assault Division deployed to the city of Pskov and the Seventh Guards Mountain Air Assault Division (Novorossiysk), two airborne divisions – 98th Guards Airborne Division (Ivanovo) and the 106th Guards Airborne Division (Tula), four airborne brigades – the11th Guards Air Assault Brigade (Ulan-Ude), the 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk), the 56th Guards Air Assault Brigade (Kamushin) and the 83rd Guards Air Assault Brigade (Kubinka), as well as the 45th Guards Independent Reconnaissance Brigade. Besides, the Russian Airborne Force also includes logistics units and educational establishments.