Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yakovenko Answers a Media Question Regarding Withdrawal from Sierra Leone of Russian Air Group Which Is Part of Peacekeeping Operation There
Question: President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to withdraw the Russian Armed Forces' troop unit taking part in the UN peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone. Could you comment upon the results of the participation of the Russian peacekeepers in that African country?
Answer: The Russian troop unit consisting of 115 servicemen and an air group of four Mi-24 helicopter gunships with organic weapons, ammunition, military equipment and other material resources was part of the peacekeeping United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone since August 2000. The task of the Russian unit was measures to secure UN personnel by air escort of grounds convoys, search and rescue flights, and support for aeromobile operations of the military contingent of the UN Mission, and patrol and observation flights.
The UN peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone has fulfilled the tasks set for it and is an example of effective actions by the international community in a crisis situation in one of the areas of the African continent. In no small measure the Russian peacekeepers have contributed to the success of this operation. The participation of the Russian air group is highly assessed by the command of the military contingent of the UN Mission and by the United Nations leadership. From the outset, in the conditions of confrontation and an aggravated military situation in Sierra Leone, thanks to the combat power of the attack helicopters and the high expertise of personnel the Russian air group became one of the chief guarantors of stability and security on the territory of that country.
Now in the wake of the successful completion of the activities of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone the UN Security Council, in resolution 1610 of June 30, 2005, authorized its winding down. Accordingly, the Presidential Decree envisages withdrawal of the Russian military unit before October 1, 2005, with the weapons, equipment and supply reserves assigned to it from the territory of Sierra Leone to the territory of the Russian Federation.
I would like to note that Russia's contribution to settlement under the aegis of the UN in Sierra Leone is not an isolated example. Russian peacekeepers participate in virtually all the UN peacekeeping operations on the African continent.
September 6, 2005