Russia: April 15, 2004

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Russia has agreed to withdraw it's Soviet era troops garrisons from Georgia within five years. Because of problems with Chechnya (rebels there were taking refuge in Georgia and the Georgians were ignoring it), Russia had refused to withdraw it's troops. Now, with the promise of money (several hundred million dollars) from the United States to pay for moving, and setting up the 8,000 Russian troops in new bases back home, the troops will go. The U.S. has apparently assured the Russians that it would continue to pressure the Georgians to keep the heat on Chechen rebels operating in Georgia. Russia feels it can trust the Americans to do this because Chechens are showing up a lot in Afghanistan, fighting American troops. Chechens have long been active with al Qaeda. 

Russia is back in the foreign aid business again, although on a much smaller scale than in the Cold War days. It is spending two million dollars to send weapons to Kyrgyzstan, and help repair some old Soviet era military bases.

Russia has more money for military purposes, largely because of a thriving economy, but also because Russian defense industries have largely finished their post Cold War shakeout. Those weapons manufacturers that survive are producing stuff that can compete on the global arms market. This has reassured the Russian military to the point where major weapons systems are being purchased once more. Small quantities of tanks and warplanes are being bought, with the prospects of larger orders if the equipment meets expectations. Senior Russian commanders remember the often shoddy stuff they got in the old days, and don't want to get burned again.

The Chechen war grinds on. It's a war of attrition, with the fighting increasingly being Chechen versus Chechen. Some of the rebel factions have expressed an interest in negotiating deals, and discussions are quietly going on. 

 

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