North Caucasus is alerted again

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No sooner the soldiers sheathed the weapons after Southern Border-2007 (SB-2007) exercises of the North Caucasian Military District held in the middle of July than military units of the south of Russia were alerted again. Whereas SB-2007 has been held on the territories of North Ossetia and Ingushetia, this time exercises are organized in five regions of the North Caucasus, namely, North Ossetia and Ingushetia, Dagestan, Chechnya and Stavropol Territory. Units of the 58th combined-arms army are based in these very regions. Andrei Bobrun, aide to the Commander of the North Caucasian Military District, has told WPS that more than 8,000 servicemen participate in the exercises. Among participants of the exercises are not also units of the North Caucasian Military District and the 58th army but also units and formations of the fourth Air Force and Air Defense Forces army, North Caucasian District of the Interior Forces of the Interior Ministry, regional border guards department of the Federal Security Service for the Southern Federal District and Caspian Flotilla.

According to Bobrun, “About 350 pieces of combat and special hardware, airplanes and helicopters of strike and military transport aviation participate in the exercises.”

Servicemen will work out concerted actions of the military command bodies, military units and formations in preparation and conduction of combat operations, will check readiness of forces and means of the military district for joint actions with executive power bodies of the Southern Federal District, as well as interacting command bodies and troops.

The exercises are preplanned but they are conducted taking into account the difficult situation in Ingushetia and Chechnya. Not a single day passes there without registered terrorist acts of militants. Deaths of servicemen and policemen are reported almost daily. Thus, according to Interior Minister of Chechnya Ruslan Alkhanov, 29 agents of the law-enforcement agencies were killed and more than 50 agents were wounded during fulfillment of their duties in the republic since the beginning of 2007. To these figures we should add statistical data on deaths of servicemen of the Defense Ministry that amounted to 37 servicemen killed as of June 1 of 2007 (seven of them were killed in June). Thus, in 2007 monthly losses of servicemen of the Defense Ministry exceeded six people and monthly losses of the Interior Ministry amounted to five people. These figures are slightly bigger than those of 2006. Then average monthly losses of the Armed Forces amounted to five people and the quantity of servicemen killed in Chechnya in the full year amounted to 57 people. To these figures it is necessary to add the losses among representatives of other security agencies. However, neither the staff of the Interior Forces, nor the Federal Security Service, nor the Emergency Situations Ministry publish these data officially.

Meanwhile, according to top-ranking officials of the Interior Ministry, situation in Chechnya and other regions of the North Caucasus is stable. Speaking at a recent meeting of security agencies in Grozny, Interior Minister of Chechnya Ruslan Alkhanov announced that militants were practically defeated in the republic.

Alkhanov said, “Summing up results of the first half of the year, we can say definitely that a noticeable blow has been delivered on the remnants of the bandit forces and their command system has been destroyed fully.” According to Alkhanov, in the first six months law-enforcement agencies detained 191 participants of illegal armed forces, 49 militants offering armed resistance were killed including five leaders of illegal armed forces.

He stresses, “Results of our work are manifested by the fact that in six months bandits have failed to commit a single terrorist act in the Chechen Republic.” According to the minister, in the first six months of the year law-enforcement agencies confiscated more than 300 pieces of small arms and 170 kilograms of explosives. Alkhanov added that the quantity of kidnapping cases decreased by more than 95% in comparison to previous years. By and large, progress in security provision in the Chechen Republic is obvious. However, the price of this progress, as we see from statistical data on losses among servicemen of the Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry, is very high.

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