NOVOROSSIYSK, Russia, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- The Russian, Serbian and Belarusian armies launched a joint military drill named "Slavic Brotherhood" in the southern city of Novorossiysk on Wednesday, aimed at preparing to prevent riots.
In a simulated war games scenario, "anti-government elements" and regular armed forces will try to destabilize the state of affairs, and the joint command will decide to take joint anti-terrorist actions to destroy illegal armed groups and restore law and order, Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov said.
Shamanov, commander of the airborne force, said that during the first stage of the drills, nonlethal weapons will be used in the course of "special operations to prevent unrest."
For another part of the drill, pilots and antiaircraft gunners are expected to destroy more than 120 dummies imitating combat aircraft and armored vehicles, the press service of the district said Wednesday.
"In total, the event will involve more than 700 troops, 20 aircraft and helicopters, 100 units of hardware, including of Belarus," Shamanov said.
Meanwhile, Serbia's foreign minister said in a news conference Wednesday that participation in the exercises shouldn't impact Serbia's efforts to join the European Union.
"We have every right to cooperate with whom we want. It is our right. Serbia is an independent state," Ivica Dacic told reporters in Belgrade. He added that Serbia had taken part in several joint military exercises with Western countries and its military interaction with the West is much broader than with Russia.
To coincide with other air drills, which began Aug. 20, Belarus and Russia started a joint development of a new short-range air defense system to replace the outdated Strela-10M systems in service with the two armed forces.