Russia: December 25, 1999

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Russian announced that their troops were now going into Grozny to clear out the defenders. The first day of operations was slow, with little progress, but not many Russian losses either.

December 24; An official announcement declared that tomorrow the final move (not "assault") to clear Grozny would begin.

December 23; Vietnam is negotiating to buy a dozen Russian Su-30K strike fighters and to upgrade its existing force of 12 Su-27s. The Su-30Ks will be able to carry a wide variety of Russian-made weapons, including R-77 (AA-12 Adder) air-to-air missiles, Kh-29 (AS-14 Kedge) and Kh-59 (AS-13 Kingbolt), medium-range air-to-surface missiles, KAB-500 and KAB-1500 guided bombs, and Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton) medium-range anti-ship missiles. --Stephen V Cole

December 22; A pro-Russian Chechen militia (1,500 men) entered the Grozny area, to assist the Russians in establishing a new Chechen government. The Russians are using firepower intensive tactics to take the city. The Chechens are fighting from trenches and the rubble of buildings. Chechen tactics emphasize mobility, especially at night. But the Russians have learned to set up tight security at night, and then use their firepower effectively to pound any Chechen fighters that resist. But progress is slow, with progress measured in hundreds of meters. And before darkness falls, the Russians have to set up defensive positions, for the Chechens still own the night.

December 21; The third Russian national elections are completed, and prime minister Putin has used his success in Chechnya to gain 23.3 percent of the votes for his three month old Unity party. The Communist and other leftist parties lost ground, making possible a centrist majority in the Duma (legislature.) This would mean the end of the legislative deadlock and the passage of laws to reform the Russian economy and military. In Chechnya, only about 4,000 Chechen fighters remain in Grozny. Fighting has picked up in the mountains to the south of Grozny, as Russian troops try to cut the supplies still coming through to the Grozny defenders.

December 20; Russian troops advance into Grozny from several directions. Progress is slow, as the Russians are determined to keep their casualties to a minimum.

December 19; Russia has announced that it will resume operations at the base at Tartus in Syria (after completing repairs there next year) and will increase operations at Cam Ranh Bay (Vietnam) by sending more ships and strategic aircraft there. Work to improve the quarters, docks, communications, and airfield at Cam Ranh Bay has already begun. The carrier Kuznetsov, along with an escorting destroyer and frigate, and supported by a tanker, will be sent to Syria late in 2000. Russian Prime Minister Putin pointedly reminded the Russian Security Council that Russia is a world power and should resume acting like one. --Stephen V Cole

December 19; Russia has agreed to allow Norway to build a series of radiation monitoring stations on the Kola Peninsula, in exchange for Norwegian aid in dismantling old Russian nuclear submarines. --Stephen V Cole

December 19; Russian Army Aviation has sent two Ka-50 Black Shark combat helicopters to Chechnya for advanced combat trials. The Kamov Design Bureau hopes that proven combat experience will increase export sales potential. The aircraft are based at Mozdok, a former strategic air base in Chechnya that is the nexus of Russian aviation operations in the region. Russian Army Aviation reports that helicopters have flown 9,000 missions in Chechen War II, and that five have been lost (two in accidents and three in combat). --Stephen V Cole

December 17; Chechens claim to have recaptured a terrorist training camp 30 kilometers southeast of Grozny. The area south of Grozny, to the Georgian border, is highlands and mountains. This is considered the most difficult part of Chechnya for the Russians to capture and pacify. The mountains and valleys contain numerous hiding places and camps known only to the Chechens. While the Russians now claim to have occupied 90 percent of the lowlands, the area south of Grozny is mostly highlands. Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to close in on Grozny. For the past week, Russian infantry have been inching closer to the city, touching off firefights with groups of Chechen defenders. Today, three armored columns advanced towards the center of the city from the east, south and northwest. The apparent intention is to draw fire and determine what shape the Chechen defenses are in. Backed by attack helicopters, warplanes and artillery, the advancing Russians are moving more carefully than a single column did a few days ago.

December 16; The Russians have declared that they will take Grozny with days. This might have something to do with the Russian parliamentary elections taking place this week. A Russian news service reported that an elite Russian unit, a regiment (about 2,000 troops)  of the 27th Motorized Infantry division, was being sent to reinforce the 100,000 thousand or so troops already in Chechnya.

 

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