In a cynical move, Russia has attached Muslim Chechen battalions under its control to its forces in Georgia - perhaps believing that they will be effective in fighting the soldiers of a Christian country.
Radio Ekho Moskvy, referring to a representative of the Russian Ministry of Defence reports that in the structure of armed forces attached to the contingent of Russian peacemakers in Georgia’s troubled areas there are also two companies of the special-task battalions Zapad (West) and Vostok (East), which are constantly deployed in Russia’s Chechen Republic. Radio notes that news agency ITAR-TASS has confirmed this report. Zapad and Vostok battalions are commanded by the Main Intelligence Directorate (abbreviation: GRU) of the Russian General Staff.
The Vostok and Zapad battalions, which are part of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division that is permanently deployed in Chechnya, have been in charge of operations in the eastern and western parts of the republic, respectively. In June, Leutenant-General Vladimir Shamanov, head of the Russian Armed Forces combat training directorate said the battalions “perform tasks not only in the framework of the Joint Group of Forces in the North Caucasus, but also peacekeeping tasks in South Ossetia and Abkhazia."