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The first stage of Belarusian-Russian Zapad-2017 drills was completed, TASS reported quoting the press service of Russia's Defense Ministry.

"Suring the first stage, which was completed today, the issues of planning defensive warfare were trained. Command control and troops have demonstrated a high degree of skill and their capability of fulfilling combat tasks. Close cooperation was reached between the armed forces of the Union State," said Col. Gen. Sergei Istrakov, the deputy chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, who heads the Russian side at the maneuvers.

A large-scale exercise, Zapad-2017, began on Thursday at three training grounds in Russia and six in Belarus. It involved 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500

Russian servicemen taking part), as well as about 70 planes and helicopters, 680 pieces of military hardware, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars. Ten warships are also taking part.

The exercise will continue until September 20. The second stage will begin on Sunday.

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