Peace Time: January 25, 2003

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The bitter cold that has descended on Russian cities and villages is again threatening people's survival, to the point that President Putin and Defense Minster Ivanov even had a coordination meeting for using the army to deal with the effects of the natural disaster. Fuel from military depots has been shipped to cities for snow-clearing vehicles (leaving little to no fuel for training flights or driving military vehicles). Similar to how the National Guard can be called out to deal with weather emergencies in America, Russian Army companies and battalions often gone after snowdrifts with picks and shovels round the clock. On 9 January, Leningrad Military District engineers sent two mobile power stations plus operators to Tikhvin, where 13,000 people were without heating, while five powerful mobile industrial fan heaters were used in an effort to warm up apartment building entrances. 

However, while troops from the Far East and Siberian garrisons, as well as the Leningrad Military District, are keeping Russian cities from freezing solid, their own facilities and barracks are in dire need of overhaul. According to Defense Ministry figures, over one-half of the 9,200 military installations have been operating for over 20 years. Sympathetic elements of the Russian press corps have been lauding the shivering soldiers, while chastising the civilian authorities that will inevitably forget about their soldiers' welfare until the next nationwide or regional disaster. - Adam Geibel

 


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