TROOPS IN THE BALKANS MAY BE REPLACED BY POLICE

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TROOPS IN THE BALKANS MAY BE REPLACED BY POLICE

Izvestia, April 11, 2003, p. 3 EV

According to our sources, a decision about the Russian peacekeepers in the Balkans will be made within days. The 970 troops in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina may return to Russia by late May. A resolution prepared by the Defense Ministry is supposed to be confirmed by President Putin in the next few days; the president will then send the corresponding directives to the Duma and the Federation Council. The timing for the return of the troops would depend on European nations and how soon they are able to find replacements for the Russian peacekeepers.

At present, there are 650 Russian military personnel in Kosovo and 320 in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Military experts explain the departure of the troops from the Balkans as follows: “We went into Yugoslavia in 1999. That nation no longer exists. Moreover, there is neither war nor any threat of war in the region. And when troops have nothing to do, their morale falls – that applies to the military of any nation.”

A CHANCE FOR INTEGRATION

Trud, April 11, 2003, EV

Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko has stated that creating the “Group of Four” (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) is one of the last remaining chances to achieve “an advanced form of integration across the CIS”.

At a news conference, Khristenko said: “Creating this organization entails no contradictions with the structures of the Euro-Asian Economic Community. It also offers an opportunity to form a model from the leading participants in the CIS which might subsequently be proposed to other members of the Euro-Asian Economic Community and the CIS.”

Creating the “Group of Four” would make it possible for the four CIS nations which account for 94% of total GDP and 88% of trade volume in the CIS to act as “the driving force of integration processes” for a long time to come. Khristenko emphasized: “This question may be answered in the affirmative – these nations are capable of becoming such a driving force.”

Khristenko noted that the most advanced form of cooperation within the CIS at present is the Euro-Asian Economic Community, which has managed to function as a free trade zone without exceptions or limitations. According to Khristenko, future prospects for the Euro-Asian Economic Community would involve creating a customs union and setting up supra-national structures in 2005-06.

NAVY CHIEF INSPECTS SUBMARINE CONSTRUCTION

Izvestia, April 11, 2003, p. 3 EV

Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, commander in chief of the Russian Navy, began a working visit to the Arkhangelsk region yesterday. Kuroedov is inspecting enterprises that are part of the Russian State Nuclear Ship-Building Center, and progress on nuclear-powered submarine construction at the Sevmashpredpriatie shipyard. Accompanying Kuroedov on this visit is Admiral Gennady Suchkov, commander of the Northern Fleet, who expressed satisfaction with cooperation between the Arkhangelsk region and parts of the Northern Fleet.

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