NEW BLUE HELMET BRIGADE TO BE FORMED IN RUSSIA

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TOTSK TRAINING RANGE (Orenburg region), October 22 (RIA Novosti) - The first Russian peacekeeping brigade "will operate in Transdniestria (a territory on the Dniester's left bank with multinational, predominantly Russian population, which separated from Moldavia in early 1990s), Abkhazia and South Ossetia (former Georgian autonomies, presently self-proclaimed "independent" republics), where Russia is already engaged in peacekeeping activities", said Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

"Then, it remains to be seen. If there is a need of employing the brigade in some other region, then, subject to a political decision and a UN decision, our peacekeepers may be sent there", said the minister.

"The brigade will certainly differ from conventional motorized rifle units by its increased mobility, personnel and weapons. It will be fully manned with contract soldiers. This process will be going on all over 2005", said the defense minister.

Troops commander of the Volga-Ural Military District Army General Vladimir Boldyrev in his turn said that the brigade could be formed on the basis of the one of the units of the Second Army, deployed in the vicinity of Samara, before December 1 this year.

At the Totsk training range the defense minister also made an official statement that Russia had no intent to lease a multipurpose nuclear-powered submarine to India.

"I can assure you that this information is false", said Mr. Ivanov commenting on some mass media reports that Russia and India had allegedly signed a contract on leasing a Project 971 Akula (Shark) multipurpose nuclear-powered submarine to the Indian Navy.

"I can not confirm this information. In the beginning of the year I visited India, we discussed very serious contracts on military-technical cooperation, in particular, you know that signed was a large contract on shipping Admiral Gorshkov aircraft-carrying cruiser, but no submarines or leasing agreements were discussed", said Mr. Ivanov.

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