First confrontation between Muslim independence ambitions and conservation of territorial continuity by ruling state occurred during the period of the 90s in Russia. Russian Federation was the first state encountered in a “clash of civilizations”.
In this article I will analyze the start of the war between Russia and Chechnya in 1994.
In December 1994 Russian troops entered Chechnya in order to prevent the separation of Chechnya province from Russia and to fight the Islamists who ruled it.
The armed forces:
Armed units of Chechen Republic of “Ichkeria”:
Approximately 10,000 troops defended Grozny city. Not including Militants and Arab clans who were under self-command.
42 T-62 and T-72 Tanks; 34 BMP-1 and -2; 30 BTR-70 and BRDM-2; 44 MT-LB, 942 cars. 18 MLRS “Grad” systems. 139 artillery systems, including 30 122 mm howitzer, 2S1 self-propelled guns and 24 thousand shells for them; 2S3 self-propelled guns and anti-tank guns MT-12. 5 SAM, 88 MANPADS. 590 units of anti-tank weapons, including two anti-tank systems “Contest”, 24 anti-tank complex “Fagot”, 51 anti-tank complex “Matis”, 113 RPG-7 complexes.
Russian attack forces were a bit beyond 15,000 Russian soldiers, 200 Tanks, 500 BTR/BMP & 200 artillery pieces. It is estimated that Russian operation would take no more than a few days.
“We will take Grozny with only two airborne regiments”-Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, (before the introduction of troops in Chechnya).
*According to the theory of military education, attacking forces must be ahead of the 7 to 1 in number (Russian forces needed amount of 50 thousand troops at least).
Visible military knowledge among the Chechen forces in design of the defense of Grozny, the defenders split their forces into 3 security straps, turned the basements to weapon warehouses and Command centers which were connected by underground passages. It is important to note that “Sunja” River divides the city into two parts making it a natural barrier. The main streets were mined. The Chechens were divided into squads of 3 soldiers only, which were divided into sniper, gunner and a soldier who was armed with RPG. Squad’s main task was to make momentary contact and disappear. Fighting deliberately designed to be dense to prevent cover of the Russian Air Force. In addition, The Chechens destroyed all the tables with the names of the streets in order to create confusion among the Russian soldiers. Also Russian troops didn’t have topographic maps of the city.
When Russian forces began to move into Grozny the Chechens didn’t open fire, they allowed to the Russian forces enter between two strips of defense. Chechen captured the Russian convoys and disconnect them from reinforcement. Reinforcement convoys encountered strong resistance (During the first attack wave Russian troops have lost 20 tanks, 112 BMP’s & 6 AA systems).
An aerial view of Russian armor casualties
Psychological warfare, was a big part of the battle, Chechens were equipped with advanced communications devices and disrupted the communications between Russian forces and talked to them Non-stop in order to affect there morals. The city was covered with signs and inscriptions in Russian, “Welcome to hell” to effect the troops psychologically.
“Russians, surrender. you surrounded by mines, Resistance is pointless!”
“It is better to have terrible nightmare than a never-ending nightmare”
Fighting was so crowded so that Russian air cover was paralyzed and sometimes Russian artillery performed friendly fire. Buildings were changing hands several times a day. At night the fighting were become heavier. In the morning fighting was weakened and immediately after the morning prayers the “meat grinder” renewed.
The turning point came when Russian forces have changed their tactics in the city Instead of sending convoys of armored, Russian forces copied the Chechen method and formed squads of 3 soldiers only. When Russian forces have already begun to move forward to the city center the Chechen found it difficult to hold the assault force but, still fought for every floor in the buildings. Russian forces progress stopped by of talks about a ceasefire. Militants took advantage of the situation and brought new forces into the city.
When the ceasefire ended the battles become more intensive. With Russian forces advanced into the city they faced the even toughest resistance. Surrounded militants, not surrendered but, tried to break out.
Only on 19 January 1995, Russian forces managed to take control of the city center but, the fighting in the city lasted until 26 February 1995.
Russian forces after the occupation of the city center
Russian federation: killed – 1,426 people; wounded – 4 630 people; prisoners – 96 people; missing – about 500 people. All Russian soldiers who were taken prisoner badly abused. Later many committed suicide or hospitalized in a mental hospitals.
Military equipment losses: Destroyed – 225 units (including 62 tank); damaged (repairable) – over 450 units
Chechen armed groups lost: Killed – 6900 people; the number of injured is unknown. Prisoners – 471 people.
Military equipment losses: Tanks – 78 units (64 destroyed and 14 captured), BMP – 132 units (71 destroyed and 61 capturedcaptured). guns and mortars – 253 units destroyed, almost all MLRS BM-21 “Grad”.
Civilians Casualties: There is no exact number but, estimated around 27,000.
Russian army forces invaded Grozny in 1994 but, after two years of intense fighting, the Russian troops eventually withdrew from Chechnya. Chechnya preserved its de facto independence until the second war broke out in 1999. In 1999, the Russian government forces again invaded Chechnya.
instead of Epilogue..