Rumors of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev’s impending dismissal have risen again. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets hinted yesterday that the end could be near when he said that President Boris Yeltsin was being pressed to punish "the true authors of the poorly planned Chechen operation." (6) Grachev is clearly included in that group and has long been held especially responsible for the miserable performance of Russian forces in the initial weeks of the military operation in Chechnya. He was also the only one of the so-called "power ministers" spared during a housecleaning launched last summer by Yeltsin following the Chechen hostage-taking incident at Budennovsk. An unnamed high-ranking military source also speculated to the press recently that Grachev will be relieved of his post if his trip to Chechnya fails to spur a breakthrough in regulating the conflict. This source suggested that current General Staff Chief Army General Mikhail Kolesnikov was the likely choice to succeed Grachev. (7) In the latter half of February Yeltsin twice criticized Grachev publicly for failing to carry out military reform.
Minister Lambastes NATO Enlargement.