Russia: November 30, 1999

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An American CIA agent was caught procuring Russian secrets in Moscow. Meanwhile, the US is muting it's criticism of the Chechen operation, and asking Russia to press Iraq to cooperate with the UN. Russia has gone ahead and publicly called on Iraq to cooperate. We don't know what Russia is telling Iraq privately. A former mayor of Gorzny, Bislan Gantamirov, was released from prison (where he was doing six years for embezzlement) to form a pro-Russian Chechen military force in Chechnya.

November 29; Russia will make Gudermes the capital of Chechnya once the entire province is pacified. This is being done because Grozny is expected to be little more than rubble once the war is over. Already, some 80 percent of  the buildings in Grozny have been destroyed. In November, the Russians got the citizens to of Gudermes to surrender the town without much of a fight. Chechn forces outside of Gorzny have been moving into small villages and establishing roadblocks. Noibyora (50 kilometers east of Grozny) and Novogrozmensky (five kilometers east of Noibyora) were taken in this fashion. But Russian troops quickly showed up and drove the Chechens out. Russian patrols throughout northern Chechnya are encountering ambushes, or simply running into groups of armed Chechens. 

November 28; Russia is planning to merge its helicopter design bureaus into a single company with its own development, production, and marketing branches. --Stephen V Cole

November 27; While Chechens sought Western weapons, Russian announced that the campaign would proceed through the winter weather. Using tactics that emphasized low Russian casualties, the major towns would be taken, and elite Russian infantry would pursue Chechen rebels into their mountain hideouts. Grozny, apparently, will be subjected to a bombardment and siege until it surrendered. Russia has called on all civilians to evacuate Grozny. The Russians have been getting a lot of criticism from the Western media for the number of civilian casualties, but the army has been unwilling to use tactics that would reduce civilian losses but increase losses among their own troops. By Russian standards, the discipline of the troops has been good. This isn't saying much by Western standards, although the Russians have arrested some troops for killing and injuring civilians in rear areas. Russia is also moving to close Chechnya's southern border with Georgia. Although Russian peacekeeping troops in Georgia, the Georgians have refused to allow additional troops in  to secure the border from the Georgian side. This would be easier, because the hostile Chechens on the other side make the job harder. So Russia is moving thousands of troops down south to seal the 100 kilometer long frontier, and keep out weapons and ammunition for the rebels.

November 26; Grozny is being pounded daily by artillery and aircraft. Some 6,000 armed Chechens are dug in within the city. Russian troops control about 80 percent of the city's outskirts, and several thousand Chechen fighters are defending the town of  Urus-Martan (20 kilometers southwest of the city.) When this town falls, Grozny will be surrounded. While the Russians wait for Grozny to surrender, the most brutal fighting will take place south of the city, in mountains full of armed Chechens and well stocked and fortified camps and villages.

November 25; Uras-Martan, 20 kilometers southwest of Grozny, has been surrounded. Although the town is being shelled and bombed round the clock, it is defended by over 3,000 armed Chechens. Some of these have been spotted leaving the town for the surrounding hills, but most seem determined to hold the place. The Russian tactic of convincing the civilians to surrender the town is unlikely to work.

November 24; Relations between Russia and neighboring Kazakhstan chilled a bit when the Kazakhs arrested a dozen ethnic Russians (32 percent of the Kazakh population is Russian) and accused them of plotting an ethnic Russian uprising. Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union for over a century.

November 24; With its conventional forces drastically reduced in real combat power, Russia is turning increasingly toward using nuclear weapons as the basis of its defense. The new official nuclear policy (allowing first use of nuclear weapons against conventional attacks) is one reflection of this. The Russians have, for decades, had a public "no first use" policy and a private but not really secret "first use if necessary" policy. The private policy, confirmed in their own textbooks used at military schools, has been ignored by the Western media, not least because that cannot be sure if it is a real policy or just propaganda. --Stephen V Cole

November 23;  Russian troops continued to take towns outside of Grozny. Uras-Martan, 20 kilometers southwest of Grozny, is defended by some 3,500 Chechens. The Russians have increased their shelling and bombing of this town, as Russian infantry and tanks surround it. Grozny itself is held by some 6,000 heavily armed Chechens. The Russians apparently plan to take Uras-Martan the same way they recently took Gudermes and Achkhoi-Martan. Shelling it initially only on the outskirts of the town. The Russians let it be known that if the inhabitants of the town will get the armed Chechens to leave, the Russians will not destroy the entire town. With winter underway, this is a hard offer to refuse. The armed Chechens fall back to another town, or Grozny, although some are killed by Russian infantry or warplanes during the withdrawal. Also today, Russia cut mobile phone links to Chechnya and neighboring areas.

November 22; Russian troops closed in on the town of  Uras-Martan, 20 kilometers southwest of Grozny. Chechen rebels provided a videotape of 43 dead Russians and two live Russian prisoners. The prisoners said they were part of a 200 man  unit that was ambushed near the Dagestan border. The Chechens claim they killed over 200 Russians. Meanwhile, the Russian armed forces chief said that Grozny will not be occupied, although Russian troops are within three kilometers of the city center. Russia claims that 80 percent of Chechnya has been occupied by over 100,000 Russian troops and police.

 

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