RIGA - The joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2021 confirms that in the future the cooperation between the two countries will grow into the inclusion of the Belarusian army in the Russian defense system, the National Armed Forces (NAF) Commander Leonids Kalnins told LETA.
Although the Zapad exercise concluded on Thursday, the NAF commander pointed out that Latvia cannot relax and must continue to observe to what extent the neighboring countries will reduce their combat readiness and whether the army units will return to their places of deployment. "We have no plans to reduce our combat readiness and monitoring capabilities," the commander said.
Assessing the course of the exercise, the NAF commander pointed out that nothing had changed in the attitude of the eastern neighbors, as these countries continue to consider the NATO bloc countries as the "enemy nr1" and a threat. Therefore, the training scenario has not changed and is focused on attack.
"Russia has integrated the participation of the Belarusian army in the Zapad exercises to a much greater extent, which shows that in the future the cooperation between the two countries will grow into the inclusion of the Belarusian army in the Russian defense system," Kalnins said.
The neighboring countries did not have any surprises during the Zapad exercise, but the neighboring countries have implemented more intensively some other elements, like electronic warfare functions, the commander said.
The NAF commander confirmed that no provocations have been identified so far and there have been no other challenges to report.
Asked to assess whether the migrant crisis on the Belarusian border is part of Zapad, the NAF commander said that he is used to relying on real evidence, but there is none, but in any case the illegal immigration situation is an excellent test for the Latvian defense system, as is must pay attention to both the situation on the Latvian border and Zapad.
The NAF commander tends to believe that this is the response of Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of the Belarusian regime, to Western sanctions.
The NAF commander expressed satisfaction with the ongoing large-scale military exercise Namejs taking place in Latvia. No significant incidents have been identified during this exercise, and no complaints have been received from landowners about the areas used.