MOSCOW, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Russian and Belarusian armed forces kicked off their joint strategic exercise "Zapad-2021" at a training ground in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region on Thursday.
Servicemen from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia attended the opening ceremony, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The drills will be held from Friday to Sept. 16 at nine training grounds in Russia, the Baltic Sea, and at five training grounds in Belarus.
In total, 200,000 personnel, about 80 aircraft and helicopters, 760 units of military equipment, and 15 ships will participate.
The exercise "is purely defensive" and aimed at training troops to conduct military operations in modern conditions and increasing the operational compatibility of the military command bodies of Russia and its allies and friends, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said.