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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Foreign Minister Says Soldiers Peddle Arms

UNITED NATIONS -- The man Chechnya's government considers its foreign minister, Ilyas Ahmedov, said the only way Chechen fighters could get weapons was to take them from dead Russian soldiers or buy them from individual Russians or certain army units.

"We are in a state of complete blockade. But at the same time we can always collect our weapons from dead Russian soldiers," he said Monday during a meeting with UN correspondents.

"The more close combat with Russians we have, the more chance we get to get supplies of weapons and ammunition," he said.

Ahmedov said there was "one peculiarity in these so-called Russian-Chechen wars."

"Certain individuals within the Russian army, certain army units, are always ready to sell us weapons. There is no other way we can get weapons or ammunition or food," he added.

Ahmedov said the five-month-old "Russian aggression," billed as a counter-terrorist operation, "turned very quickly into an all-out war against the civilian population" of Chechnya. "Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 10,000 people have perished in this war," he said.

Ahmedov expressed surprise that the United Nations "keeps away from this problem," although he said he understood that the Security Council could not be involved in finding a resolution to the conflict.

This was an allusion to Russian opposition to any move to put Chechnya on the Security Council agenda, since Moscow considers it an internal matter.

Ahmedov said he had met some U.S. State Department officials in Washington as well as some senators, congressmen, members of research institutes and journalists, but gave no details.

Asked if he had tried to get in touch with any Security Council members or other UN members, he said: "On several occasions we tried to contact these bodies ... but we received no answer."