Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 22

On May 28, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov conducted his first press conference since being appointed to his present post. Four deputy defense ministers were also in attendance. Ivanov, the newspaper Kommersant wrote, “answered questions not at all in the military style but instead in the manner of a real intelligence officer working under diplomatic cover. That is, he said a great deal but, over an hour-and-a-half, nothing of substance” (Kommersant, May 29). During the course of the press conference, Ivanov underlined that, “The [Russian] troops are slowly but surely switching over to night patrols, so that to speak of ‘fortresses’ in which the troops save themselves is inaccurate.” The defense minister created a minor flap when he reported that the Ministry of Defense had to date lost 2,026 men in the conflict and that the Combined Group of Forces taken together had lost a total of 2,682 men. On May 16, however, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky had reported that total Russian losses amounted to 3,096 men (SMI.ru, May 28). Both sets of figures, incidentally, seem far too low.