Soldiers of Vostok and Zapad battalions will guard construction workers from Russia
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov announced yesterday there are 2 platoons of Chechen soldiers from Vostok and Zapad battalions among Russian servicemen sent on a humanitarian mission to Lebanon by Russian Ministry of Defense. In this way, Russia wants to improve its image in the Arab world.
Chechen servicemen have already arrived to the site of their permanent location in Saida region, southern Lebanon. Two platoons of contract soldiers from Vostok and Zapad battalions of the 42nd division are to guard and protect Russian bridge-building battalion in Lebanon.
The idea to send Chechen servicemen to Lebanon first appeared during the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and official delegations from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, who offered to Moscow to involve Russian Muslim soldiers to post-war reconciliation in the region. Then, Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov said that Chechen soldiers are ready to go to Lebanon at the first call of Russian authorities.
Russian forces in Lebanon consist of 300 of military builders, 2 security platoons, and 1 platoon of bomb technicians. The bridge-building battalion is to restore 6 destroyed bridges. Chechen soldiers have already installed 15 tents, field bakery, bath-house, and other everyday-life facilities. It is unlikely that Russian servicemen will come across UN peacekeepers, because UNIFIL forces are located to the south of Litani river, while Russians are to the north. On the contrary, some Russians will probably have to come face to face with Hezbollah militants who control southern Lebanon.
Arab world gave no response yesterday to the appearance in Lebanon of Chechen soldiers loyal to Russian authorities. So far, all Arab mass media painted the situation in Chechnya and the actions of Russia in North Caucasus in very dark colors. Al-Qaeda puts Chechnya, along with Iraq and Afghanistan, on the list of regions where Christian-Muslim war is still going on. Apparently, by sending 54 Chechen soldiers to Lebanon, Moscow is trying to change the attitude to its policy in Chechnya.