Staunton, October 8 – Facing continued armed resistance across the North Caucasus and mounting losses among its Interior Ministry troops, Russia’s Anti-Terrorist Committee has decided to send regular army units back into hotspots of the region in the hope that they will be able to do a better job in pacifying the region.
Citing Interfax reporting based on a source close to the Committee, “Vzglyad” reported today that “since the beginning of October, after a lengthy interval, units of the armed forces of Russia are again being called to conduct counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus” (vz.ru/news/2012/10/8/601518.html).
Russian army units are now involved “in a number of regions of the North Caucasus where circumstances are the most tense. They are following their own plans but in close connection with units of the operational group of the Internal Forces of the MVD and other police units and the FSB,” according to the source. The army has already taken losses.
“In the course of an operation to block and destroy a group of militants in the Daghestani city of Buinaksk at the end of last week and in Ingushetia four contract [that is, professional] soldiers were killed and several were wounded,” at least in part because the army has not yet adapted to “the specifics of counter-terrorist operations at the present time.”
“Recently,” the source continued, “the group of Internal Troops of the MVD has been taking significant losses in the North Caucasus, and its reserves are running out.” Indeed, he added, “it is not excluded” that Moscow may soon decide to “strengthen groupings of the Internal Forces with Army units.”
Units of the Russian army led Moscow’s efforts to pacify the North Caucasus between 1999 and 2006. But then Moscow withdrew them and handed over control of the pacification effort to the command of the officers of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.
The decision to send army back into the North Caucasus, assuming that the comments of this source are confirmed, is the clearest indication yet that Vladimir Putin’s claims of success in the region, so lauded during his 60th birthday yesterday, are not as true as many in Russia and the West appear to believe.