Yesterday, Russian Minister for Defense Sergey Ivanov made an important statement: the reduction of Russian troops in Chechnya has been suspended. Here is the complete statement the foreign minister made on his arrival to the Khabarovsk airport on Sunday.
“I must admit that we have recently been receiving more and more information about future terrorist attacks being prepared in Chechnya, and not only in Chechnya. Mercenaries, and even kamikazes, are being recruited in several settlements. This resembles a kind of making zombies of people. Starting with today, all troops and military structures stationed in Chechnya will carry out large-scale and strict target operations for the prevention of such preparations. Under these conditions, I made the decision to suspend the plans for the reduction of Russian troops in Chechnya.”
The statement made by Sergey Ivanov has already caused its first responses. Today, Commander of the Russian Air Force Colonel-General Georgy Shpak stressed that the well-timed decision made by the defense minister was caused by the complicated and tense situation in Chechnya. In Shpak’s words, “it’s not an appropriate moment to withdraw troops from Chechnya, at a time when terrorists are especially active with subversive activities and terrorist acts, including attacks on Russian helicopters. In this connection, Sergey Ivanov’s decision concerning the suspension of the withdrawal of Russian troops, including airborne troops, is justified and timely.”
The Air Force commander says that more spot operations are to be held in Chechnya, especially in the mountainous areas in the south of the republic.
Leader of the People’s Deputy group in the State Duma Gennady Raikov said that it is necessary to immediately establish order in Chechnya and toughen measures toward Chechen guerrillas. Gennady Raikov is sure that target blows against illegal armed bandit groups in Chechnya should have been delivered long ago, not waiting for the drama in the Moscow theatre to occur.
Meanwhile, the other day a Russian Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Chechnya. According to the deputy commander of the federal troops in Chechnya, Boris Podoprigora, nine men were killed in the crash, Deputy Commander for pedagogic activity of the 58th Army Division Colonel Stanislav Marzoyev was among those killed. Admittedly, the helicopter was brought down by Chechen guerrillas at a height of 800-1000 meters in the eastern outskirts of Grozny. The Chechens fired from a portable antiaircraft missile complex. According to provisional data, the firing was done from a destroyed 5-storey building on the outskirts of the Chechen capital.
A criminal investigation has started. That was the ninth Russian helicopter to crash in Chechnya this year.
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