From the Jerusalem Post, with thanks to JS.
MOSCOW Russia is spending 65 billion-ruble (US$2.3 billion) to strengthen its southern border security, which officials see as a weak point in the sprawling nation’s defenses, Russian news agencies reported Saturday.
Border authorities briefed Putin the program’s progress on Friday during a visit to southern Russia, ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti quoted Putin spokesman Alexei Gromov as saying.
Russia plans to establish 72 border posts by the end of next year along the frontier spanning from the Black Sea to the Altai mountains, according to the reports. Putin visited one of eight posts that have already been built, they said.
The stretch includes the border with Georgia and Azerbaijan, which officials say militants cross to carry out attacks in Chechnya and elsewhere. It is also a route for militants’ weapons and cash.
The southern frontier also includes the long border with Kazakhstan, which separates Russia from the rest of ex-Soviet Central Asia and Afghanistan – Russia fears the border is an entry point for drugs and Islamic militants.
The report suggested the program does not include the border with China, which has been a state border longer than the former internal frontiers that became international boundaries after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
In addition to the new border posts, Gromov said Russia plans to establish two military brigades that will be based in the mountains of Karachayevo-Cherkessia and Dagestan – two republics in the North Caucasus, the volatile region that includes Chechnya and borders Georgia and Azerbaijan…