According to Airborne Forces commander Col. General Yevgeny Podkolzin, Russia originally considered sending as many as 10,000 troops to Bosnia, but was dissuaded by the high cost of such a mission. Podkolzin said the peacekeeping brigade would be manned almost exclusively by contract soldiers, or professional volunteers. The few draftees being sent have volunteered to go and have received the permission of their parents, he said. The Federation Council approved the dispatch of the troops last Friday by a vote of 137 to 2.
Deployment of the Russian peacekeeping brigade in Bosnia will take "up to 14 days," a spokesman for the Russian Airborne Forces said yesterday. Moscow plans to send an advance group of some 400 troops to the Balkans January 12 to begin preparations for deployment and to assist the multinational peacekeeping operation in Bosnia. The Russian force is comprised of two airborne battalions and will be deployed in the strategically important Posavina corridor, primarily on territory held by Serbs. Russian troops will also help U.S. soldiers police the town of Brcko. Testifying before the Federation Council January 5, Col. General Leonty Shevtsov estimated that the dispatch of some 1,600 Russian troops to Bosnia would cost Moscow approximately 220 billion rubles. Shevtsov will command the Russian brigade. (12)
Lithuanian Prime Minister Survives Challenge.