Russia: October 11, 1999

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Russian and Chechen troops are busy digging in. The Russians are in a much more favorable position since they moved in and occupied the northern third of Chechnya. Russian troops hold the high ground, allowing them to keep an eye on Chechen movement. Russian troops are on the north bank of the Terek river, although they did not immediately destroy several bridges, which allows Chechens to sneak across at night and attack Russian troops in villages and fortifications (trenches and foxholes) on the north bank. But the bridges have also allowed the Russians to move south of the Terek river, which they have done in at least one area. Russian troops have night vision devices, but these only help, for the Chechens can move at night as if they were sneaking around in daylight. Although Russian troops are more motivated than they were in the 1993-96. war (because of the Chechen invasions of Dagestan and the terrorist bombings in Russia), they are not as motivated as the Chechens. For centuries, the Chechens have been known as fearless and resourceful fighters. Over the last three hundred years, the Russians subdued the Chechens over time, using massive numbers are ruthless (massive killings) tactics. The Russians don't have time at the moment, but they are killing a lot of Chechens. To do this they are making good use of airpower. Su-24 bombers can operate at night with laser guided bombs, and do so regularly. The Russians have also been dropping a lot of mines (the small "toe poppers" that can blow a foot off) in areas they want to keep the Chechens out of. You can get through these mines if you are careful, but it takes time, and is more difficult at night. The Chechens are asking for peace talks, but the Russians will only consider that if the Chechens hand over the leaders of the Dagestan invasions, particularly Shamil Basayev. But the Chechen does not, and cannot, control Basayev and this remains a major problem for all concerned. Meanwhile, Basayev has threatened to launch a terrorist campaign inside Russia (while still denying any responsibility for the earlier bombings that killed some 300 Russian civilians.)

October 10; Osama bin Laden is sending agents and troops into Chechnya by two routes. The first goes through Turkey and Azerbaijan. The other goes through Iran, Turkmenistan, then across the Caspian Sea by boat and into Azerbaijan and thence on to Chechnya.--Stephen V Cole

October 10; Russian bombers and artillery pounded Chechen targets all night, then launched more attacks on villages along the Terek river. The Russians now control the northern third of Chechnya, the area north of the Terek river. Most of the fighting is caused by Russians trying to get Chechen fighters out of villages on the north bank of the river. All this activity has driven about 150,000 refugees into neighboring areas. The Chechens say they have killed nearly 500 Russians in the last two days. The Russians say they have lost only seven dead and 37 wounded. The Chechens say they have lost a thousand dead (mostly civilians) since Russia began bombing Chechnya on September 5th. 

 

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