By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barbé
First published in
SFOR Informer#110, April 4, 2001
Monday is a very busy day for the paratroopers
of the 1st Peacekeeping Russian Separate Airborne Brigade (PRSAB).
Shooting training, instruction and patrols, nothing is missed
on the programme.
Ugljevik - Everybody is gathered in the parade square.
Col. Vladimir Demidov, commanding officer, takes stock of the
last week and gives orders for the next one.
lead all usual SFOR peacekeeping missions: patrols, weapons storage
sites inspections, roads and bridges rebuilding, medical support
to population," said Maj. Mikhail Rybchninski, Public Affairs
officer of the brigade.
The soldiers (about 1,200 men) come from different Russian units,
that's the reason for its name (separate). "Before coming
to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), our soldiers must pass various
tests. They're divided into four camps: Ugljevik, Priboj, Simin-Han
and Vukosavci. One of the main options is to have previously served
in real combat operations," Rybchinski added.
the moment, soldiers from the PRSAB are concentrating on Bijeljina
municipality, on the border of Serbia. "We have increased
our number of patrols in that area because a lot of displaced
persons and refugees are coming back, especially in the town of
Janja," Rybchinski explained. "We also lead patrols
in the area of Zvornik and in the vicinity of Brcko District.
At the same time, a sudden brake makes the gravel crunch. A soldier
is testing a BTR 80 before leaving on mission. With the spring
coming, the Maintenance Company has a lot of work. The 200 transport
vehicles (jeeps, Ural) and the 120 battle vehicles (BTR 80, BMD
1 and 2) need to get their oil changed for the summer so they
can complete their missions.
on the parade square some soldiers are exercising and detonations
are banging from the firing range in Lasarevica. Soldiers from
the 4th Battalion are training with their Makarov Pistols and
AK-74s. Following a random programme, the targets suddenly appear
from the ground at 200, 250 and 300 metres from the paratroopers.
But none of the targets remain. The shooters improve their skills
using a minimum of ammunition every week on Monday, Tuesday and
Assistance to population
Last year, thanks to the Harvest Operation
success, the Russians collected more than 22,664 small arms,
grenades, mines and ammunitions. The Harvest Operation has
been underway since 1996. The most important seizes have been
done near the towns of Janja, Kuzuluk and Grinja, Bosniac
Other mission, other means. The medical and health
care centre is one of the things that the Russians are the most
proud of. "We have 25 people working here, among them doctors
in all specialities: ophthalmology, surgery
In each one
of our three other camps we have two doctors, a surgeon, three
paramedics, a mobile operating vehicle, two emergency evacuation
vehicles (and) one armoured personal carrier (APC) for medical
service," said Lt. Col. Constantin Tikhonov, chief of the
medical centre in Ugljevik.
morning, many civilians, about 10 a day, come to the health centre.
On a map, Tikhonov points out the villages where the help is needed
the most. A few words reverberate in the corridor. An old woman
comes for a consult. Quickly, a doctor takes care of her, an interpreter
by his side. "Most of our patients suffer from heart, blood,
nerves or eye diseases. But the main problem is the medicines,
which are very expensive," Tikhonov commented. "We are
building a new medical complex for local civilians," he added.
Even if the Russians seem to be isolated in the northeast of the
country, that's not true. They do participate to SFOR missions,
as they play a primordial role in Multinational Division - North.
Nations of SFOR: Russia
Training and Exercises