The first deputy chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces, Colonel General Valery Manilov, stated at a briefing yesterday that Russia plans to continue its military presence and peacekeeping operations “in the areas of its traditional national interest”–a reference to former Soviet republics. “The military presence will be preserved and strengthened” because “it meets Russian security interests and the interests of the host countries,” Manilov claimed, apparently on those countries’ behalf. The peacekeeping operations will continue “despite the financial problems.” (Itar-Tass, May 27)
Claims to recognition of a Russian sphere of interest in the CIS are usually phrased in a more veiled form by government and political leaders. Manilov’s statement accompanies proposals for a possible increase of Russian forces in the northwest and Belarus (see Baltic and Western Region sections below).
SENIOR RUSSIAN GENERAL PREDICTS COUNTERMEASURES TO NATO BID.