Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov believes that the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan is proceeding according to plan. Mr. Ivanov spoke to journalists at a break in the meeting of the top leadership of the Russian Armed Forces. According to the minister, militarily, the operation is proceeding successfully. The capture of Herat, a major regional centre in Afghanistan, by the Northern Alliance is evidence of this it. Mr. Ivanov stressed that all major regional centres in the north of Afghanistan are controlled by the anti-Taliban coalition. Speaking on why some of the items in the Russian Armed Forces 2001 plan have not been fulfilled, the minister said that this was mainly caused by lack of finances. Mr. Ivanov said the issue of equipping the army with modern military hardware is pressing. He said that a dramatic increase in military social welfare spending, the lack of which would hinder the military reform, was planned. The defence minister also called unfounded the allegations that Russia was abandoning its military bases abroad. He stressed that the 201 division currently based in Tajikistan would be transformed into a base. Mr. Ivanov highlighted that the Black Sea Fleet was also going to be strengthened.