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Getting real, Russian-style

What it takes to win a war - a sliding scale TWO HOURS: "One paratroop regiment might have solved all questions in two hours."

- Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's November

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1994 estimate of how long it would take Russian forces

to win if they were to fight separatist guerrillas in the southern province of Chechnya. Russian troops did indeed fight them - for nearly two years - and lost.

TWO WEEKS: "According to [Prime Minister] Putin, Russia will need no more than two weeks to finish the war against the rebels [in Dagestan]."

- Kommersant Daily reporting in August on the Russian prime minister's estimate of how long it would take to put down the Islamic guerrilla conflict that had just erupted in Dagestan, next door to Chechnya. Russia captured the Chechen capital six months later, but the war continues today.

TWO MONTHS: "I do not think we can expect an end to the special operation in Chechnya for the next month or two.''

- Sergei Yatrzhembsky, Russian government spokesman, as air strikes against guerrilla fighters were stepped up Wednesday. This, just 10 days after the Russian commander in Chechnya, Gen. Gennady Troshev, announced that "the war, as such, is over on the territory of Chechnya."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society