- INTELLIGENT RESISTANCE -
Free. Fair. Fearless. Intelligentsiya is made up of Fiji Islanders who are libertarians in their own way and who cherish the free flow of news, ideas and information and will peacefully resist any attempts by the country's military rulers to stifle free speech. intelligentsiya will also bear witness, report and discuss human rights abuses by the authorities.
July 17, 2013
Russia to provide combat gear to Fijian peacekeepers
July 11, 2013 Izvestia An additional force of Fijian peacekeepers heading for the Golan Heights may be equipped with new Russian-made individual combat kits.
The Fijian Foreign Minister, Inoke Kubuabola, has said that soldiers of the additional Fijian peacekeeping force to be stationed on the Golan Heights (one of the strategically sensitive locations in the Arab-Israeli conflict) in late July will be issued Russian-made individual combat gear. The minister has not specified whether the equipment will be bought under a contract or supplied by Russia on some other terms. He did say, however, that "previously [Fiji] had to procure such equipment under lease arrangements, which was very expensive."
Fiji intends to send an additional 380 soldiers to the Golan Heights, to bring its total peacekeeping force there to 562. The additional Fijian troops will partially compensate for the departure of Austrian peacekeepers.
A source in the Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that "preliminary negotiations on this issue were held in Moscow at the level of experts, but no final decision has been reached". The Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, says, however, that an agreement was in fact finalized during his visit to the Russian capital on 29 June.
"The Fijians will probably be offered the new Ratnik individual combat kits, which are currently undergoing field trials and will soon enter service with the Russian armed forces," says Dmitry Litovkin, a Russian military expert. "These kits can be supplied to peacekeepers before they formally enter service with the Russian army because exports require less bureaucratic paperwork."
The standard individual kit issued to peacekeepers in accordance with international regulations includes a special uniform, a protective helmet, a gas mask, and a special load-bearing vest which distributes the weight of the equipment carried by the peacekeeper across their whole body. Mandatory equipment also includes communication gear, surveillance instruments, and small arms.
"To comply with the UN requirements, peacekeepers are armed only with small arms, i.e. assault rifles and machine-guns," Litovkin says. "It is possible that the Fijians will also receive some of the latest Russian weaponry, including the export version of the new Pecheneg machine-gun, as well as the export version of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, which uses NATO-standard ammo."
The expert believes that equipping the peacekeepers serving on the Golan Heights with Russian combat gear and weaponry would make sense because that weaponry is known for its high quality. In addition, using Russian hardware can help to achieve savings on ammo because the warring factions in this conflict zone often use Soviet-standard weapons and ammunition.
Pavel Zolotarev, deputy head of the Institute of US and Canadian Studies in Moscow, says that Russia can also equip the Fijian peacekeepers with high-precision mine-clearing gear and mobile kitchens, as well as share the wealth of experience accumulated by Russia’s own peacekeepers.
"Russia has some extremely valuable expertise after taking part in numerous peacekeeping operations over the decades," Zolotarev says. "Even the U.S. army could learn a thing or two from us."
On 27 June the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the peacekeeping force stationed on the Golan Heights for another six months. Previously President Vladimir Putin said Russia was willing to send its own peacekeepers to the region, but the proposal was not implemented due to legal complexities.
Control of the Golan Heights is disputed between Israel and Syria. Under the terms of an agreement between the two countries, permanent members of the UN Security Council are not allowed to send their peacekeepers to the region. At present the peacekeeping force stationed on the Golan Heights includes 800 soldiers from the Philippines, India and Fiji.