Homecoming Day for Russian Soldiers Returning from ChechnyaAired March 2, 2000 - 2:38 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A top Russian commander predicted today that his mop-up operation in Chechnya could drag on until summer. Russia says it captured the last major Chechen stronghold earlier this week. And now faces bands of rebels in the southern part of the province. With the major part of the operation over, Moscow began withdrawing some troops from Chechnya today.
Here's CNN's Matthew Chance.
MATTHEW CHANCE. CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A hero's welcome for the men and women of the 423rd Motorized Regiment, among the first Russian troops in Chechnya, now among the first back home. Departing operations to seize Grozny and to bring vast areas of Chechnya under Russian control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The regiment was at its best. We fulfilled all our orders. There have been no complaints about us.
CHANCE: Now, for these troops, the war is over, and the celebrations can begin. Mothers and fathers, wives and children, have turned out to welcome their loved ones back from months in the war zone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm just happy to see my wife, the woman I've been dreaming about for five months, the woman who was there for me with letters and support.
CHANCE: There is an overwhelming sense of relief here. And this is why. What they've left behind is a war the Russian government says is as good as over, but which still sees Russian troops and Chechen rebels in sporadic guerrilla combat, and that could drag on as hatred towards unwanted Russian soldiers simmers among the Chechen population.
PAVEL FELGENHAUER, MILITARY ANALYST: And that causes the Chechens to fight back. They have no other option. Their nationhood of the Chechens right now at stake. That means the resistance will continue. That means the Chechen population will give the hard-core fighters food, support and recruits.
CHANCE: But for now, Russia has the territory and the power in Chechnya.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When we went there, we were told it was because the rebels attacked us first. We went there to make sure that didn't happen again.
CHANCE: Still unclear whether that has been achieved.
(on camera): The Russian military says it will crush the last remaining rebels in a matter of weeks. The Kremlin says, the strength of its own forces in Chechnya can now be halved to just 50,000 men, that is plenty, it says, to keep a tense and violent breakaway republic at peace.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|CLICK HERE FOR TODAY'S TOPICS AND GUESTS|
CLICK HERE FOR CNN PROGRAM SCHEDULES
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.