MOSCOW, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Belarus and Russia will hold a large-scale strategic military exercise in the fall, the Belarusian defense minister said Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported.
The drill, called Zapad 2009 (West 2009), will involve around 13,000 service personnel on both sides, Defense Minister Leonid Maltsev said.
The Russian military would contribute "Ground Forces, Air Force, Air Defense Forces and reconnaissance units," he said.
The exercise will, among other things, rehearse interoperability within the framework of the Belarusian-Russian integrated air defense system, which the two countries agreed to establish recently, the minister added.
Moscow and Minsk signed on Feb. 3 an agreement on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the establishment of an integrated regional air defense network.