Russia moves its military to Belarus

Russia is moving troops and military equipment to Belarus as part of a large-scale joint military exercise. More than 12,000 military men and hundreds of military pieces are participating.

The drills, called “Zapad 2009” – Russian for “West 2009” – began a week ago and involve 5,000 servicemen from Russia and more than 7,000 from Belarus. Over 220 tanks, hundreds of armored fighting vehicles and aircraft are taking part in the drills.

“These will be significant drills; for a long time we haven’t been conducting any of this kind,” said the head of the Russian military’s Joint Staff, General Nikolay Makarov. “We are planning to work on not only general control systems, but also on systems that control military units that are being created under Russia’s military forces’ reform.”

The exercise will run through 29 September.