Friday, October 10, 2003

DEFINITION OF "QUAGMIRE": From this week's Time Magazine:

T[he] Chechenization strategy — intended to remove the war as an issue in Putin's re-election campaign next spring — is reminiscent of the U.S.'s attempts to declare victory and get out of Vietnam three decades ago. It also has echoes in the U.S.'s current predicament in Iraq, as Bush seemed to acknowledge at a news conference with Putin at Camp David two weeks ago when he said, "Terrorists must be opposed wherever they spread chaos and destruction, including Chechnya." In Chechnya guerrillas have fended off a superior military force and used terrorist tactics to take the battle from Grozny to the streets of Moscow.


As many as seven Russian soldiers are being killed every day in Chechnya, according to close observers of the war. Moscow rarely publishes its losses, but last February the Kremlin admitted to almost 4,600 soldiers dead since late 1999--more than it lost in the first Chechen war but still considered a gross understatement.


Many doubt the Russians will ever leave. "Russian generals have zero enthusiasm" for Chechenization, says Deputy Prime Minister Doshukayev, because there's too much money to be made in Chechnya. The arms and explosives that kill Russian troops come straight from the Russian bases, according to local people and foreign observers. Russians deal the weapons on the black market even though they will be used to kill fellow soldiers. Guerrillas don't have to smuggle arms into Chechnya, says pro-Kadyrov newspaper editor Lechi Magomayev, because "they can buy them at the nearest base." Chechen officials say the military is also involved in oil smuggling and other rackets.
Don't be fooled or deceived.

More on Chechnya here.


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