Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko photo RIA Novosti. Alexei Druzhinin
KHMELEVKA (Kaliningrad region), September 26 (RIA Novosti)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, arrived on Thursday at a testing range in western Russia for the final stage of an extensive exercise conducted by the two countries’ militaries.
The heads of state arrived at the Khmelevka range on Russia’s Baltic Sea coast aboard the same helicopter. The six-day exercise, code-named Zapad (West), has been held every two years since 2009.
Khmelevka is 12 kilometers (seven miles) north of Baltiisk, the main base of Russia’s Baltic Fleet.
The presidents were welcomed at the helicopter pad by the chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov. Lukashenko was accompanied by his youngest son, Nikolai, dressed in military uniform.
This year’s exercise has about 12,000 Russian and 200 Belarusian servicemen, 180 combat vehicles, including 10 tanks, as well as 10 ships from Russia’s Baltic Fleet and 40 aircraft.