President Boris Yeltsin signed decrees on February 12 bringing the Transbaikal, Terek, and Siberian Cossacks into state service. They will be given a standard issue of weapons and will be permitted to join units of the Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry, and Border Troops. (NTV, February 13) In the future, therefore, Cossack units may be used to guard Russia’s borders with China and Kazakstan and, even more controversially, the border between Chechnya and Russia’s Stavropol krai. This is viewed as a dangerous development by the leaders of Russia’s North Caucasian national republics. Professor Musa Shanibov, chairman of the Congress of the Kabardin People and former president of the Confederation of North Caucasus Peoples, told the Monitor that: "Having lost the war in Chechnya, the Moscow ‘party of war’ wants to transfer the battle to the other North Caucasus republics. That’s the only way I can explain the legalization of the Cossack armed formations. The peoples of the North Caucasus are unarmed, yet it turns out that the Cossacks need arms… Naturally, we will not tolerate this. Each of the peoples of the North Caucasus also wants its own army… They have already begun to arm themselves. It’s clear where this will end!"
Ukrainian Political Battle Lines Drawn.