Russia: September 24, 1999



Russia is moving towards another major military operation against Chechnya. For several days, military targets deep within Chechnya have been bombed and artillery has been fired into border areas for over a month. Although the faction providing the troops invading Dagestan is at odds with the government of Chechnya, all Chechens would rally to resist another Russian invasion. Russia is aware of this, but cannot ignore the widespread support the Dagestan rebels have within Chechnya. The bombings within Russia have incensed the Russian public, and no matter how reluctant the Russian military and political leadership is to take on all of Chechnya to solve the Dagestan problem, public opinion cannot be ignored. 

September 23; The airport at the Chechen capital of Grozny was attacked by Russian aircraft. A Tu-134 airliner and An-2 single engine airplane were destroyed. The main target was a radar station and ammo dump. This was the first time since the 1994-96 Russian war with Chechnya that targets were bombed with in Chechnya. The air attacks came in at least two waves and involved over a dozen aircraft. In the Russian city of Ryazan (600 kilometers southeast of Moscow) , police defused a large bomb in a twelve story apartment building. A timer was set to detonate the bomb at 5:30 in the afternoon, just when adults would be home from work and children from school. Reports from Moscow indicate that elements in the Armed Forces general staff are pushing for a ground invasion of Chechnya.

September 23; Russia had hoped to regain lost prestige in its combat operation to force Warlord Basayev's Chechen commandoes out of Dagestan, but took far longer than the two predicted weeks to force them to withdraw. The war is thought to be caused by Chechen radicals who want to add Dagestan to an independent Chechnya in order to gain an outlet on the Caspian Sea. Russia expects more such raids and invasions. The Russians fell back on their old tactics from Afghanistan and Chechnya: surround the rebels, hit them with artillery and air strikes, then have infantry force them out of their dug-in positions and wipe them out. Unfortunately, this didn't work much better in Dagestan than it did in the earlier conflicts. Surrounding rebels in mountainous terrain proved easier said than done, as infiltration routes remained open even into "sealed pockets" of rebels. Russian air and artillery strikes were badly coordinated, often hitting their own troops. Russia once again proved short of fielding a reliable infantry force, having to piece together units from the Army, Airborne Corps, and OMON police to launch attacks which often failed and just as often found that the rebels had already left.--Stephen V Cole

September 21; In the last week, police have found seven explosive devices and nearly two tons of explosives in Moscow. Not all of these are related to Chechen bombings.

September 20; Chechen guerrilla leader Shamil Basayev announced that he had recruited 400 suicide troops for additional attacks on Russia.




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