Russian Defense Minister Urges Restraint In Sending International Peace-keepers To Afghanistan

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov called for making no hasty decisions on sending international peace-keeping forces to Afghanistan. He made this statement talking to journalists on Saturday. "The issue of sending international peace-keepers to Afghanistan requires a very careful consideration", stressed the Minister. "Afghanistan is no Kosovo. The situation there is by far more complicated". Sergei Ivanov pointed out that "Russia has no plans for participation in the peace-keeping operation in Afghanistan". RF Defense Minister cautioned against any euphoria on account of the victory over the Taliban. "The Talibs have not vanished in thin air. They can well switch over to the tactics currently practised by the illegal militants in Chechnya and start planting bombs in public places and commit other acts of subversion", he said. "No one should delude themselves. No one should forget that there are still many sites of continued Taliban resistance on the territory currently under control of the Northern Alliance", Sergei Ivanov pointed out. According to him, "in an area near the city of Kunduz a detachment of foreign mercenaries have found themselves surrounded by the Northern Alliance forces. These people, primarily the Chechens in their ranks, can count on no mercy and, therefore, will desperately fight to the last man". In Sergei Ivanov's opinion, one can identify other parallels between the anti-terrorist operations carried out in Afghanistan and Chechnya. He believes that the Northern Alliance should conduct a number of special "sweep" operations on the territories recently liberated from Taliban forces as many Taliban-supporters are still there disguising themselves as peaceful citizens". The Minister thinks that the Northern Alliance could conduct such "sweep" operation jointly with the Western commandos currently deployed in Afghanistan. At the same time, Sergei Ivanov totally ruled out any possibility of Russia's participation in these activities. "Russia has not sent its special forces to Afghanistan and does not intend to do so in the future", he pointed out.

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