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Russia to deploy alpine units at its military bases abroad

MOSCOW, December 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry plans to deploy special mountain units at military bases in S. Ossetia, Abkhazia, Armenia and Tajikistan, as well as in the Urals and Far East, a ministry official said on Thursday.

"All military contingents deployed in mountainous regions will have battalion-level units specially trained for mountain warfare," said Col. Vladimir Chabanov, deputy head of the Ground Forces combat training department at the Russian Defense Ministry.

Russia has already deployed two mountain brigades in the North Caucasus republics of Daghestan and Karachayevo-Circassia. They are manned by contract soldiers and total about 4,500 personnel.

Chabanov said the newly formed units would be equipped with special weaponry and equipment developed for combat at high altitudes in mountainous areas, including professional mountain-climbing equipment.

Russia currently deploys a military base in Gyumri, Armenia and a military base near the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, which hosts the 5,000-strong 201st Motorized Rifle Division.

Moscow is also planning to open one base in Gudauta, in the west of Abkhazia, and another in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, following a five-day war with Georgia over South Ossetia in August.

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