Russia: January 25, 2000

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The Russian Defense Ministry reported it had suffered 600 dead and1,500 wounded in the latest Chechen war. But this only covers the army, air force and navy. The Ministry of the Interior has 500,000 troops, about 30 percent more than the army. And the Interior troops are doing most of the fighting in Grozny. The army's airborne and armor units are chasing the rebels in the hills south of Grozny. There is increasing clamor in the Russian press for an accurate and verifiable casualty list for the Chechen fighting. The fighting in Grozny grows more intense. The rebels are fighting in squad size units (10-20 men), sustaining themselves off caches of food and ammunition. But their supplies are limited, and often the rebels have to ration their ammo. The Russians have no such problems, and are using tremendous amounts of shells and bombs to pound suspected rebel positions. Like all urban warfare, it's a war of attrition. And with the Russian media focusing on Russian casualties, it's also a war of nerves. The rebels biggest potential ally is Russian public opinion, for if the Russian people turn against the war, the rebels win. Meanwhile, the Chechen people lose, nearly 9,000 refugees have fled Grozny in the past week.

 

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