The first detachments of the ISAF, or the International Security Assistance Force, will be transferred to Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, December 22. This decision was approved at a December 20 session of the United Nations Security Council, simultaneously with the adoption of Resolution No. 1386, which sanctions transfer of a peacekeeping contingent to Afghanistan. The ISAF, which numbers from 3,000 to 5,000 servicemen, will be deployed mostly in the area of Kabul and in Kandahar, Jelalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. The entire contingent will be transferred to Afghanistan by December 28. The Afghan capital will house 1,000 peacekeepers, with 1,000 more stationed in reserve in the air field of Bagram 50 km away from Kabul and yet another 1,000 engaged in hospitals and in engineering works. Later, the number of peacekeepers in Afghanistan will be enhanced to 5,000. Until April 30, 2002, the peacekeeping contingent will be under the general command of Great Britain. Apart from British servicemen, the peacekeeping operation will involve servicemen from 12 other countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Turkey and Canada. Russia, too, supports the peacekeeping operation. The country's foreign ministry assures that Russia will carry on its effort to promote political settlement of the Afghan crisis and post-conflict rehabilitation of Afghanistan with the central role of the United Nations. But, as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov stressed earlier, Russian servicemen will not participate in the peacekeeping mission.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia