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The RF Defence Ministry is considering a plan to involve army units in counterterrorism operations that are currently conducted in the North Caucasus by security services and the Interior Ministry, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily writes. According to the publication’s sources in the Defence Ministry, these plans are associated with the growing losses sustained in the region by security forces, including army units. During the last week of August alone, 15 officers and soldiers of law enforcement agencies and the Defence Ministry were killed and 11 wounded in the North Caucasus. Such losses were sustained by tem only in the early 2000s when the troops were engaged in active fighting in the North Caucasus.
Meanwhile, the final decision on involving military forces in the liquidation of militants is still pending. However, a source in the Defence Ministry told the publication that “if the attacks on the military in the Caucasus continue, the Defence Ministry will join the operations for the liquidation of the bandit underground and will give a resolute rebuff to the militants.”
Nezavisimaya Gazeta recalls that since August 1999 when militants of warlords Shamil Basayev and Khattab invaded Dagestan, it is the army leadership that commanded the Joint Group of Forces for counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus region. The army units performed the basic functions for the elimination of militants.
“The intensification of the activity of the bandit underground and the growth of losses among the personnel of the Interior Ministry and Defence Ministry indicate that a sluggish guerrilla war, which seems to be far from over continues in the North Caucasus. The involvement of trained military units in the operation to eliminate militants, apparently, will help to improve the situation for the time being. However, the war causes are not in the actions of militants, but and rooted in various religious, social, economic and other non-military contradictions that exist in the North Caucasus. Hence, these contradictions should be settled not so much by military as by humanitarian methods,” believes Doctor of Historical Sciences Vladimir Popov, who has long been exploring the causes of conflicts in the North Caucasus.