Russian-Belarusian Union Shield drills kick off in western Russia

More than 80,000 troops, about 400 units of weaponry, including 100 tanks, and about 80 combat aircraft and helicopters are taking part in the exercises.

The Russian-Belarusian exercises Union Shield-2015 have begun on Thursday at the firing grounds of Kirillovsky in the Leningrad region and Strugi Krasnye near Pskov, head of the press service of the Western Military District Colonel Oleg Kochetkov said.

"The purpose of the exercises is to check the readiness of the military authorities of the Union State, the staff headquarters of the formations and military units to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and Belarus. A special feature will be practicing the information exchange between the headquarters of the Union State during joint combat operations," Kochetkov noted.

According to Kochetkov, Russian and Belarusian troops are to curtail the activities of "militants" in the dynamically changing environment.

In all, more than 80,000 troops, about 400 units of weaponry, including 100 tanks, and about 80 combat aircraft and helicopters are taking part in the exercises. More than 1,000 Belarusian servicemen with weaponry and military equipment have arrived in Russia.

The Union Shield-2015 exercises will last until September 16.

First published by TASS.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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