Last year showed that armed conflicts and local wars still take place. The analysis of reports regarding this topic shows that the intensity of such conflicts and losses among civilians have increased.
From the geopolitical point of view all conflicts happened in regions, which affect Russia’s interests. Iraq accounts for the most full-scale military operation in 2003. The US and its allies concentrated over 150,000 servicemen in this region (around 130,000 US soldiers and officers, around 12,000 UK servicemen, 2,300 Italian troopers). The Ukrainian contingent consists of 1,600 servicemen – it has already lost three soldiers. In addition, 52 UK soldiers and 16 Italian servicemen have fallen prey to this conflict. Denmark, Spain and Poland have lost one soldier each. The US has lost around 400 people. Over 50% of them perished after President George W. Bush announced the end of a full-scale military operation in Iraq. Iraq’s losses are much more substantial: from 21,700 to 55,000 people, including around 10,000 civilians, perished during the Iraq war. This report has been circulated by the Doctor for Preventing a Nuclear War international organization.
A simple analysis shows that conflicts do not stop after the end of an active phase of military operations. At present around 5,000 Iraqi partisans fight US troops in Iraq. Newsweek reports that around 300 mercenaries trained by Al Qaida in Afghanistan help them. The magazine published an interview with Taliban leader Mulla Omar’s interpreter. He acted as an official interpreter at a secret meeting held by bin Laden’s representatives and two leaders of Afghan Talibs in the Afghan mountains in mid-November. Bin Laden’s representatives told Talibs that bin Laden decided to turn Iraq into the main battlefield against the US. There are rumors that a substantial quantity of guerrillas trained and financed by Al Qaida will be sent to Iraq from Afghanistan.
In the meanwhile, the situation in Afghanistan remains unstable. The anti-terrorist coalition has not achieved its goals. Afghanistan failed to pass Hamid Karzai’s edition of the Afghan Constitution. It was rejected by field commanders who represent national minorities living in northern regions. They try to limit the president’s authorities and make the parliament the main institution of power in Afghanistan in order to retain control over their provinces.
Talibs control many provinces in Afghanistan. Their attack government forces and coalition troops. Over 400 people have perished in Afghanistan since the Northern Alliance supported by the US and Tajikistan defeated the Taliban movement in late 2001. This includes servicemen of foreign and government troops, representatives of international organizations, civilians and insurgents. In the meantime, $50 billion has already been spent on the operation in Afghanistan. It is intended to spend $420 million on the creation of the Afghan army. In all the US plans to allocate $79 billion on combating terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2004. This sum can be compared with the Russian state budget ($88 billion). By the way, Russia ha spent only $5 to $7 billion on the Chechen campaign since 1999. This is a substantial sum for Russia. In particular, the budget of the Russian Army amounted to around $10 billion in 2003.
In the meantime, Russian troops fight rather efficiently in Chechnya.
Firstly, losses of the Russian Army have decreased. Russian troopers have become experienced in combating Chechen guerrillas. In particular, two battalion groups of the 104th airborne regiment of the 76th airborne brigade consisting of contract servicemen do not suffer losses at all.
Secondly, the Russian Armed Forces has created so-called Special Forces, which are controlled by the General Staff. They neutralized a gang, which recently infiltrated into Dagestan. It should be noted that this was a serious failure of the special services, which did not manage to prevent this incursion.
Meanwhile, Russian servicemen perish in Chechnya. Vladimir Boldyrev, commander of the North-Caucasian military district, stated that the Russian group in Chechnya consists of around 75,000 servicemen. Unofficial sources state that the quantity of Chechen guerrillas does not exceed 1,000 to 1,200 people.
The first Chechen campaign was the bloodiest local conflict. Judging from official reports, all security ministries lost 3,927 servicemen in 1994-1996; 17,892 servicemen were wounded. In other words, 178 soldiers and officers perished every day. Nevertheless, the former leadership of the country published a death toll after that campaign. That move let Russian citizens know the actual quantity of victims. The Defense Ministry states that a new death toll containing the names of servicemen who perished during the second Chechen campaign is underway.