Russia: March 4, 2004


In Chechnya, rebel attacks left five Russian soldiers dead. The army says that about eighty different groups of rebels are still operating in Chechnya. These groups range from a dozen or so fighters, to over a hundred men. Most of the groups are smaller, as Russian air reconnaissance and commando patrols have been successful in tracking down the larger rebel groups, and calling in artillery and air strikes to pummel them.

Around $600 million in unpaid weapons bills threatens the future of Russian arms firms and further undermine President Vladimir Putin's efforts to revive the crumbling military. The government's failure to make payments for two months to the umbrella agency of arms companies compounded fears that more than one third could go bankrupt. Facing a mid-March election, Putin has promised an overhaul of the military (including upgrading aging equipment and creating a professional army). - Adam Geibel


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