FEDERAL CENTER DEMONSTRATES RESOLVE IN STRUGGLE AGAINST TERRORISTS

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The beginning of January in Chechnya was marked with events important for Armed Forces.

First, the planned withdrawal of excessive troops from Chechnya was completed. General of the Army Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of the General Staff, announced this on January 10.

According to Kvashnin, at present the troops in Chechnya include the 42nd guards mechanized infantry division deployed there on a permanent basis, as well as a part of units of the North Caucasus Military District, a group of airborne forces and military commandant offices. According to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the current group of forces stationed in the republic is 36,000 men strong (Just compare: in March 2001, when the process of the troops reduction began, the group of forces in Chechnya was up to 80,000 men strong).

Second, a whole set of measures aimed at liquidation of the militants was completed. Operations were organized since mid-December in such localities as Argun, Starye Atagi and Tsotsen-Yurt. According to presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky, “accuracy of operations in Chechnya grew substantially. We pressed on the militants to leave Argun and disperse in other localities to deliver an accurate blow, which influenced effectiveness of special operations,” emphasized Yastrzhembsky. According to him, 92 militants were killed in Argun. Casualties of the federal forces included 5 servicemen killed and 24 wounded. Federal forces detained 27 militants.

Third, the federal center finally broke relations with Maskhadov. Nikolai Britvin, deputy presidential plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District announced this recently. He called the previous contacts with Maskhadov ineffective and stressed that “the terms on which emissaries of Maskhadov insist are unacceptable for Russia.” The military pointed out that although Maskhadov criticized his former allies Shamil Basaev, Movladi Udugov and some others, accusing them over the breakup of Chechnya, he did not doubt the need to continue armed struggle against the federal forces and complained that disputes among the leaders of militants resulted in defeats in battles against the Russian Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, according to Kvashnin, negotiations that began a month ago were doomed to fail. He adds that peaceful life is being restored in Chechnya, no large militant groups have remained there, and they will be fully defeated by spring.

Thus, federal forces in Chechnya demonstrate a high degree of combat readiness. Of course, this requires victims. During the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus the Armed Forces lost 2,355 men killed and over 6,000 men wounded. According to Defense Minister Ivanov, these were the casualties of the Defense Ministry’s servicemen between August 1, 1999, and December 25, 2001.

Just compare, as of May 28, 2001, the casualties amounted to 2,026 men. Thus, beginning from May 2001 up to 50 people were killed in Chechnya a month. This is a very big figure of losses. Just compare, in three months of the combat operation in Afghanistan the US lost only six people.

Meanwhile, the US spends up to $2 billion on the operation in Afghanistan a month, which is equal almost to one-fourth of the military budget for 2002. Thus, in Chechnya Russia spends 90% less than the US spends in Afghanistan.

According to plans of the Russian command, the special operation in Chechnya will be accomplished by early spring.

By that time it is planned to withdraw airborne units and troops of the North Caucasus Military District not permanently deployed in Chechnya. Thus, if the remaining militants are destroyed in six months, the strength of the group of forces in Chechnya may amount to 20,000-25,000 men.

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