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Belarusian-Russian army exercise Zapad 2013 ‘threatens no one’

MINSK, 21 February (BelTA) – The conducting of the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2013 (West 2013) in Belarus threatens no one. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made the statement on 21 February as he heard out a report about the concept of the forthcoming exercise, BelTA has learned.

“In response to the West’s recent statements and speculations about the exercise in the form of ‘threat from the East’, I’d like to underline that we are not going to threaten anyone. We don’t consider any country our enemy. We have a defense doctrine and the law clearly states it,” said the President.

According to the head of state, Belarus welcomes anything that helps build up peace. “No, we don’t accept the policy of threats and dual standards. It is the power and clarity of our foreign policy. We act openly and consistently, focusing on collective defense,” remarked the Belarusian leader.

Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that the enhancement of the common military security system and the buildup of the capacity to protect the Union State are determined as priority tasks and the fact is widely acknowledged. “With this in mind we develop the regional military force of Belarus and Russia, which relies on the Belarusian army. Its potential had to be maintained at a level able to repulse any aggression whatever the source may be,” believes the President. “It is particularly relevant in our time of turmoil. We are witnessing an escalation of armed violence and mass bloodshed in the international scene. This is why we have to be ready. Let me remind you a simple truth: an army has to learn to fight, it is the duty of the army, an army has to always be ready to protect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of its country. In this case we are talking about the defense capability, in a manner of speaking, of the joint army of Belarus and Russia, the regional military force in the western direction. It is our area of responsibility”.

Alexander Lukashenko reminded that in 2009 together with the President of Russia the decision was made to take turns to hold regular joint army exercises in Belarus and Russia. This year the exercise will take place in Belarus.

The head of state remarked that in the last few years the Belarusian army has done a lot to develop various combat systems, special operations forces and the territorial defense. “We have not tried to hide the fact that just like the Russians, we are adapting our army to the challenges and threats that exist or can exist today. We are busy raising the level of military and technical cooperation with our strategic ally Russia and with other CSTO states,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

The President of Belarus added that military sphere achievements will have to be tried in practice during the forthcoming army exercise. He also gave instructions to thoroughly calculate and plan everything before getting down to working on training matters.