The Presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, on Thursday will jointly inspect the final stage of the Russian- Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2013 (West 2013).
The Kremlin press service reported that the two presidents during the day would visit firing ranges in the two countries - the Gozhsky ranges in the Grodno region of Belarus and the Khmelevka range in Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast.
At these ranges, joint military contingents of the Russian-Belarusian Union State will drill the tasks of combating illegal armed groups, according to the exercise scenario, the press service said.
The large-scale joint strategic exercise, in accordance with the decisions of the leaders of Russia and Belarus, is conducted since 2009 once every two years. For the first time is was held in the Republic of Belarus (Zapad 2009), and then in 2011, under the name Union Shield 2011, in Russia, at Europe's largest firing range Gorokhovetsky (Nizhny Novgorod Oblast).
The Zapad 2013 exercise, which was launched on September 20, is for the first time taking place simultaneously in Russia and Belarus. "Joint operations at the five ranges - three Belarusian and two Russian ranges - provide a unique opportunity to drill combat cooperation between the armed forces under different conditions," the Russian presidential press service stressed.
It said that the scenario at the Belarusian Gozhsky range includes joint action to rebuff an attempt of a simulated bandit group to break into the territory of the Union State by land. At the Kaliningrad range Khmelevka Russian and Belarusian troops are drilling actions to rebuff terrorist aggression from the sea.
In the territory of Russia, the Zapad 2013 exercise involves about 9.4 thousand military personnel, including more than 200 troops from Belarus, about 180 military vehicles, 40 planes and 10 ships of the Baltic Fleet. In the Belarusian ranges, more than 2.5 thousand Russian soldiers are engaged in the exercise.
After visiting the maneuvers, Vladimir Putin will also hold a meeting on the results of a comprehensive surprise inspection of structural units of a number of civilian ministries. The event will be held in a teleconference bridge mode, the press service said.
The RF head of state had given the instructions to conduct a comprehensive surprise inspection review of the RF Interior Troops, as well as a number of civilian structures - the RF Transport Ministry, Ministry of Energy and the administration of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, while in Sochi on September 16. He demanded to check the time standards and the ability of the relevant departments to take action. Particular attention, on the RF president's instructions, was to be paid to cooperation and information exchange between the federal bodies of executive authority and all structures involved in the inspection. The Russian Supreme Commander-in-Chief had given instructions to pay special attention to energy security and the deployment of management systems. Putin then expressed the hope that this inspection would make it possible to find out the level of cooperation between ministries and agencies, to check the status of interagency planning and "would contribute to the development of the threat response mechanism."