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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Mountain brigades to be set up in southern Russia by late 2008

RIA Novosti

11/07/2006 18:49 BOTLIKH (South Russia), July 11 (RIA Novosti) - Mountain brigades to protect Russia's southern borders will replace the country's military bases in Georgia that will be withdrawn by the end of 2008, Russia's defense minister said Tuesday.

"We will synchronize the withdrawal of heavy bases from Georgia, which we will complete by the end of 2008, and their replacement with mountain brigades," Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, told journalists in the North Caucasus republic of Daghestan.

Ivanov said the brigades' main task would be to support border guards in the North Caucasus frontier, in particular in Daghestan, which borders on Georgia.

One brigade will be based in Botlikh, Daghestan, and another one in the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. An Interior Ministry Troops brigade will also be deployed in the North Caucasus Military District, Ivanov said.

Ivanov said the border should be well protected and added that the Botlikh brigade's establishment, housing and infrastructure would cost the federal budget over 7.5 billion rubles ($280 million).

The defense minister said only contract servicemen would serve with the Botlikh brigade.

"We hope that the brigade will be set up by September 1, 2007," he said.

Ivanov said in April that by 2008 Russia would establish a "total system" to defend its border with Georgia.

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