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08/03/1998 12:51:12 Russia puts military focus on small, local wars

MOSCOW, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Russia is focusing its military efforts on

training a small, crack force ready to intervene in regional conflicts along the

border of the former Soviet Union, a top official said on Monday.

Andrei Kokoshin, secretary of Russia's advisory security council, told

reporters the government's latest revision of its defence doctrine concentrates

on small local conflicts rather than all-out war.

"Local conflicts of differing levels of intensity remain asubject of

special attention and are possible along the entire perimeter of Russia and the

Commonweath of Independent States," he said. "They will need our decisive and

sometimes uncompromising actions."

Since the collapse of communism in 1991 and the end of the Cold War, Russia

has acknowledged that the likelihood of an all-out attack from abroad is

unlikely.

But Moscow has fared poorly in its efforts to fight smaller, local

conflicts. It lost a war against separatist fighters in the breakway region of

Chechnya in 1994-96.

The post-Soviet period has also seen wars in Georgia, Azerbaijan and

Tajikistan.

"We have carried out sober analysis of the situation and strict analysis of

conditions, without closing our eyes to the critical financial situation and the

very tough restrictions which this situation entails," Kokoshin said in

outlining the idea of a small, mobile force.

Russian public television reported the doctrine envisioned 10 infantry

divisions which were fully equipped and in a high state of combat readiness. The

document also seeks to eliminate a number of military departments to create

greater efficiency in the armed forces.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin has pressed for military reforms leading to

a fully professional (as opposed to conscript) army, but has been hampered by

continuing budget woes.

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