President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, soldiers, officers, generals, guests,
We have just completed the Zapad-2009 strategic exercise, and this is the first time in several years that all aspects of this training in a real combat setting were conducted at such a high level despite difficult weather conditions. I want to begin by thanking all the participants for their extraordinary proficiency, their professional excellence, and the great capacities shown by everyone who took part in the exercise at its every phase.
These exercises and lengthy preceding activities evidence that our relations as allies are growing stronger, that we are developing our defence capacities, and that we are successfully building a solid foundation to ensure protection of our national interests. I would like to particularly emphasise that these exercises are strictly defensive in nature and are being conducted in conformance with international law. They are intended to help our nations develop our armed forces and defend ourselves, as well as our allies.
I want to thank all the participants one more time and say that we hope to continue conducting similar exercises in the future because it is only through military exercises like these that we can truly master important combat skills and create a secure defence system for our nations and our Union State.
President Lukashenko and I agreed that such trainings will be held every two years, alternating between Belarusian and Russian territory. Thus, I hope that this represents a successful beginning to our modern military practices.
All of these practices are directed toward one goal: making life in our nations more comfortable, more secure, more modern, and meeting the demands of our peoples. At the same time, they must guarantee protection of our citizens at the highest possible level. This is a sacred duty for our governments and for our Armed Forces.
I would like to thank President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko for his participation in these practices and for the hospitality offered to the Russian military here on Belarusian soil. Please let me once again thank everyone who participated in these exercises. I hope we will continue holding similar manoeuvres in the future.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr President, Russian and Belarusian citizens,
We have just completed an extremely important joint military training for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus – the Zapad-2009 strategic exercises.
The President of Russia just said some warm words addressed to me and the Belarusian servicemen. I must tell you honestly that large-scale manoeuvres have been on our bilateral agenda on various occasions, but it is President Medvedev’s efforts that have allowed us to hold these exercises this year, for the first time since the formation of the joint Belarusian-Russian joint force within the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. Without the President of Russia’s decision, we would not have had such a scaled joint training today.
That is why I would like to thank you, Mr President, as well as all the Russian military who participated in these exercises – the many thousands of soldiers, officers, generals, and, of course, the two Presidents too.
All of the tasks for these exercises have been achieved and all deadlines met. The training was held on an enormous scale, involving Armed Forces spanning from the western part of the former Soviet Union in Belarus, to Moscow, to Ashuluk in the south of Russia, more than three thousand kilometres from here, as well as to the Kaliningrad military district – where President Medvedev and I participated in the action. This is our first experience with such a large-scale training, and it has been successful. This is our first joint performance with our strategic military ally at such a high practical level, and these exercises have allowed us to improve the ground and air combat capacities of our military.
The President of Russia already spoke about the decision we made today to hold major trainings like this one every two years alternating between Russia and Belarus, and I feel that this is a very good decision.
Our friends from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan also participated in this exercise, which is indicative of other states’ interest in training their own Armed Forces following the example of the Armed Forces of Russia and Belarus. These exercises serve as an archetype for protecting the peoples of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
It is very symbolic that these exercises are taking place this year which marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazis, and shortly prior to the 65th anniversary of our common victory in World War Two.
In 1944, this sacred Belarusian land was the site of the great Bagration strategic offensive operations, during which the Soviet Army fully liberated Belarus from the Nazis. We are proud of the heroism of our ancestors, of the generation of victors. We hold sacred the memory that our peoples – the peoples of the Soviet Union, first and foremost from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine – made a decisive contribution to destroying Nazism and saving the humankind. We must honour the memory of the older generation’s great deeds, meaning that we must carefully preserve peace and reliably defend our territory from any and all threats and challenges.
The active exercises ended very well. On behalf of the President of Russia and myself, I would like to thank all of you for your participation in these exercises and for your bravery, patience, and devotion to our peoples.
I congratulate you on your commendable performance in this large-scale training and wish you continued success in ensuring the security of our peoples.
High level performance by the Zapad-2009 strategic exercise participants deserves formal presidential appraisal.