MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) – A scenario involving potential military action in Syria will not be part of the upcoming large-scale Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad-2013, a senior Russian defense official said.
“I am taking the full responsibility by saying that the [Zapad-2013] drills will focus on practicing various forms of interoperability between branches of armed forces, including an assault landing,” Russia’s First Deputy Defense Minister Arkady Bakhtin said on Monday.
Zapad-2013 is a joint Russian-Belarusian exercise due to be held on September 20-26. It will involve over 13,000 personnel, about 250 combat vehicles and some 60 aircraft and helicopters.
The drills will take place in Belarus and in Russia’s Western Military District, as well as in the Barents and Baltic seas, according to the Russian General Staff.
Military observers from more than 60 countries accepted the Russian invitation to monitor the exercise, Bakhtin said.
Moscow and Minsk held similar large-scale military drills in September 2009. They involved about 12,500 servicemen and up to 200 pieces of military hardware.