Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 137

The director of the Russian Federal Border Service (FBS), General Andrei Nikolaev, has announced to journalists that a "fundamental restructuring" of his agency has already begun. (Delovoi mir, July 3) The announcement comes in the runup to a meeting of the Russian Defense Council — postponed to July 25 — at which a military reform plan advanced by the president’s team, and one which could affect the interests of all of the country’s force structures, is expected to be discussed.

According to Nikolaev, Russia in recent years has increasingly had to face non-military threats to its interests on the borders, and a process of "demilitarization" of the FBS has therefore taken place. With this in mind, new units have been created in its structure to perform civilian tasks and to guarantee a "civilized entry" for Russia into the system of contemporary international relations.

Nikolaev says that redrawing the existing border districts and border groups into regional directorates will help achieve this goal — a proposal approved by President Boris Yeltsin. A more comprehensive plan for the development of the FBS through the year 2000 has also been approved, but the general complained that its implementation has been hamstrung by financial and other problems. He suggested that the reform could be delayed even more if the government decides to cut funding appropriated to the FBS.

At present, the FBS guards not only the borders of the Russian Federation itself, but the external borders of all of the CIS countries, with the exception of Azerbaijan. Baku has categorically rejected even the possibility of a Russian troop presence on its territory, despite pressure exerted by Moscow.

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