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Russia to deploy 2 armies in Belarus for Zapad military drills


MOSCOW, June 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will deploy two full-sized armies in Belarus during large-scale joint military exercises in September, the Russian chief of General Staff said on Friday.

"This year we will start a series of large-scale drills in line with current military reforms. During the Zapad [West] large-scale exercises on September 8-29, we will deploy two full-sized armies in Belarus," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said.

The exercises will, among other things, rehearse interoperability within the framework of the Belarusian-Russian integrated air defense system, which the two countries agreed to establish recently.

Makarov also said that in addition to the Zapad exercises, Russia will conduct two large-scale drills and a brigade-level exercise on its own territory, which will involve units from three military districts and three fleets.

"On June 29 - July 10, we will conduct a large-scale exercise involving all brigades of the North Caucasus military district, the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla," he said.

"From August 10 to September 28, all units of the Leningrad military district, and several units of the Siberian military district, the Northern Fleet and the Baltic Fleet will take part in the Ladoga exercises," the general added.

According to Makarov, over 60,000 military personnel will participate in the exercises.

Russia's Ground Forces are deployed in six military districts: Moscow, Leningrad, North Caucasus, Urals, Siberian, and Far Eastern.

The central focus of the current reforms is the reorganization of the military command and control system from a four-tier (military district - army - division - regiment) to a three-tier structure (military district - operational command - brigade).

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