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Russia, Belarus to reinforce regional security - Sergei Ivanov

RIA Novosti

24/06/2006 17:40 BARANOVICHI (Belarus), June 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's defense minister said Saturday Russia and Belarus were resolved to strengthen the operational capacity of their joint forces in the region.

Belarus is hosting Union Shield-2006, a large-scale exercise with Russia on June 17-25, attended by the leaders of a regional security bloc's member states.

"The Union Shield-2006 exercise has without a doubt been a serious test for the Belarusian-Russian joint regional force and its ability to accomplish the tasks assigned to it," Sergei Ivanov said.

He said joint efforts were needed to counter modern challenges and threats to international peace, as well as to ensure stability and security in the region.

"Russia and Belarus will continue to strengthen the operational capacity of their East-European joint force by conducting such exercises on a regular basis," he said.

The command and staff exercise involves a total of 8,800 servicemen, of which about 7,000 represent Belarus.

Russia's 1,800-strong force includes units of the 20th Army of the Moscow Military District, alongside air force and air defense units. Russia deployed strategic bombers, Su-24M Fencer tactical bombers, Su-27SM Flanker fighters, two new Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters and a modernized A-50 Mainstay AWACS plane.

The exercise also involves 40 tanks, 180 armored infantry carriers, 140 anti-tank guided missiles, and 30 multiple launch rocket systems.

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