President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Comrades,
All of us just witnessed the Zapad-2009 strategic exercises. They are a part of the Autumn-2009 general training, along with the Caucasus-2009 strategic exercises that occurred earlier this year (earlier, I presented awards to our comrades who participated in those exercises). We just saw the professionalism of our Navy, Marine Corps, Airborne troops, and other subdivisions. Today, there were even some weather surprises, so overall, these exercises were conducted under simulated combat conditions, and that has definitely contributed to improving our troops’ interaction and enhancing overall combat skills.
Later on, service practice firings and other types of training will be held as part of these exercises. It is clear to everyone that exercises aimed at improving combat readiness of our Armed Forces are extremely important. The Zapad-2009 drills are also important because they provide a true practice ground for enhancing interaction between the armed forces of Russia and Belarus through joint operation and for developing clear coordination between command staff at all levels.
The regional grouping must resolve challenges swiftly and consistently. These include the challenges of repelling aggression by localising and neutralising various conflicts and by participating in and mitigating the consequences of natural and manmade disasters. I would like to emphasise once again that these exercises are intended to be defensive in nature, and our grouping must constitute a strategic deterrence force that provides security to Russia and Belarus, as well as strategic stability in the eastern European region.
Zapad-2009 is a large-scale event, one that provides operational training for the Armed Forces of the Union State of Russia and Belarus which will allow us to test the efficiency of all elements, as well as the entire advanced management system. Today we have also begun testing individual elements within this system. The most important factor, however, is our troops’ interaction, real cooperation, and the use of joint management practices. Tomorrow, training will continue on Belarusian territory, and will include not only troops from our two nations, but representatives from several other CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) member states as well. Incidentally, this also serves as a good prelude to the exercises that we will hold within the framework of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces.
I feel that the experience and results we get from these exercises will serve as a very important element in refining the new features of the Armed Forces. At the same time, they represent a means of monitoring our preparedness to fulfil our goals, which is something we very much need. Our goals are the same as before, and are very difficult: we must build a modern, compact, and efficient army, advanced Armed Forces, capable of fulfilling all necessary tasks rapidly.
That is all I would like to say for now.