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Monday, 15 November, 1999, 10:13 GMT
Generals behind the Chechen war
Russian soldiers marching in Chechnya
War of attrition: Russian soldiers marching in Chechnya
Commanders of Russia's armed forces appear to be taking an increasingly tough line over the Chechen conflict, saying that, this time, they will not be defeated.

Battle for the Caucasus
The men at the top are a close-knit group who some say bear a grudge after what they believe was the Kremlin's failure in the first Chechen war of 1994 - 96. BBC News Online profiles the key figures driving the military campaign:

Igor Sergeyev, Defence Minister

Geneal Sergeyev


Russia's defence minister is reportedly at odds with his chief of staff and commentators say he has a less hawkish policy than some of his generals.

However, at the start of the conflict, he pledged that Russia's bombing of Chechnya would continue "until the very last bandit is liquidated".

Gen Sergeyev toughened his position as the crisis grew. His plans for a security zone around the breakaway republic changed into sending in forces who would stay there "forever".

He has launched a scathing attack on the United States, accusing it of trying to 'weaken Russia and control the North Caucasus region'.

Gen Sergeyev has issued a joint statement with Gen Kvashnin rubbishing speculation of a rift between the minister and his senior generals as nothing more than "lies, slander and misinformation".

Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of General Staff

General Kvashnin


The hardline general stunned Nato when he ordered Russian troops into Kosovo from Bosnia as the international peacekeepers prepared to go in from the south.

One commentator said that Gen Kvashnin's move had won favour with President Yeltsin because he had, quoting a Russian phrase, "put a hedgehog into the trousers of the enemy".

But analysts say that Gen Kvashnin carried out the publicity coup behind the back of defence minister Igor Sergeyev.

Gen Kvashnin has a personal interest in seeing a successful outcome to the Chechen campaign as he commanded the northern Caucasus military zone during the disastrous 1994-96 conflict.

Russian commentators have speculated that he wants the defence minister's job and he has reportedly appealed directly to the president over the head of Mr Yeltsin's chief of political staff, Alexander Voloshin.

The general has reportedly gone further still and threatened to resign if the president opens channels with Chechnya's President Aslan Maskhadov.

Valery Manilov, Deputy Chief of Staff

General Manilov
General Manilov is thought to be one of the key military men behind the first Chechen war.

He used his position on the Security Council to urge President Yeltsin to strike against the breakaway republic.

As speculation mounted that a deal could potentially be in the offing, Gen Manilov exercised his influence yet again when he warned that there was now "no alternative" to an armed strategy.

In a news conference, Gen Manilov said that negotiations with Chechen leaders would only be possible "on condition of the terrorists' destruction or neutralisation.''

In a hawkish interview with Russian NTV, Gen Manilov said that the military could complete the "annihilation" of the Chechen rebels before the end of the year.

Asked if there was a split between the government and the military, he said: "There is not a split, nor could there ever be one.

"As never before, the state and the military are working in concert."

Viktor Kazantsev, commander of Russian forces in the Caucasus

General Kazantsev
During the 1994-96 conflict General Kazantsev was chief of staff to Gen Kvashnin.

Gen Kazantsev made his position clear in an article for the Trud newspaper, entitled: "I'll see it through to the end in Chechnya.

"The terrorists are aiming to conquer the entire south of Russia, get access to the Caspian Sea and then to the Black Sea," he wrote.



Praising both Prime Minister Putin and President Yeltsin for being "tough", he said: "Our aim is to destroy a nest of international terrorism on the territory of Russia.

"There can be no doubt that we are up against an international rabble.

"There are Arabs and Afghans and Uzbeks and Tajiks and Ukrainians and Estonians in there. "Recently we even got hold of a Finn."

Vladimir Shamanov, Commander of the Western Caucasus forces

Gen Shamanov
Leading the battle charge from the west of Grozny, General Shamanov has been among the most vocal generals in his public opposition to suing for peace.

Asked what he would do if ordered to stop his advance, the general said that his forces would comply with the order, but that he would personally "tear off my epaulettes" and retire.

In an interview with the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, he upped the ante by warning that Russia could be taken to the "brink of civil war" if the Kremlin buckles.

"If (the politicians) stop the army, there will be a powerful outflow of officers of all ranks, including generals, from the armed forces. Russia's officers just cannot take another slap in the face."

Gennady Troshev, Commander of eastern Caucasus forces

Gen Troshev
A native of Grozny, General Troshev commands one of the two main battle groups responsible for waging the day-to-day war in Chechnya.

Both he and General Kazantsev have told the media that an order to withdraw forces would be tantamount to "treason".

Gen Troshev, responsible for taking the city of Gudermes, has appointed one of his own men as its military commandant and has told the media of his operations to send units deep behind enemy lines.

In an interview on 9 November, Gen Troshev said that the army was prepared to move out of its secured positions and head into rebel-held southern Chechnya.

"You either have a classical war, or you have what we have here: a war against banditry, to wipe out bandits," he told Russian TV.



Compiled with assistance from BBC Monitoring

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
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29 Oct 99 | Europe
Analysis: Putin's war
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