Russia's Chechen Wars 1994-2000

Russia's Chechen Wars 1994-2000: Lessons from Urban Combat

Olga Oliker
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 121
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  • Book Info
    Russia's Chechen Wars 1994-2000
    Book Description:

    An examination of the difficulties faced by the Russian military in planningand carrying out urban operations in Chechnya.Russian and rebel military forces fought to control the Chechen city ofGrozny in the winters of 1994-1995 and 1999-2000, as well as clashing insmaller towns and villages. The author examines both Russian and rebeltactics and operations in those battles, focusing on how and why thecombatants' approaches changed over time. The study concludes that whilethe Russian military was able to significantly improve its ability to carryout a number of key tasks in the five-year interval between the wars, otherimportant missions--particularly in the urban realm--were ignored, largelyin the belief that the urban mission could be avoided. This consciousdecision not to prepare for a most stressful battlefield met withdevastating results, a lesson the United States would be well served tostudy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3248-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xxvi)
  8. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-4)

    In December 1994, Russian troops embarked on a painful and bloody effort to wrest the city of Grozny, in the breakaway region of Chechnya, from secessionist forces. Despite expectations of easy victory, the city lived up to its name, which in Russian means “terrible” or “menacing.” After taking numerous casualties and nearly destroying the city, the Russians eventually succeeded in capturing it. They then maintained control of Grozny for over a year, overcoming multiple Chechen attacks. But at the end of August 1996 an unexpected Chechen counteroffensive proved successful, and a subsequent negotiated settlement ended the Chechen conflict. Despite that...

  9. Chapter Two GROZNY I: 1994—1995
    (pp. 5-32)

    There is some truth to the argument that Russia’s initial failures in Grozny and Chechnya as a whole can be traced directly to Moscow’s reliance on out-of-date Soviet strategic thinking. The Soviets, expecting to fight in central and western Europe, believed that the enemy would prefer to declare its cities open rather than have them destroyed by combat. To the Soviets, therefore, urban terrain presented two options: if a city was defended, it was to be bypassed; if it was not, it could be taken from the march. In the latter case, entering troop formations would conduct a show of...

  10. Chapter Three RETURN TO GROZNY: 1999–2000
    (pp. 33-80)

    Although the Russians failed to institutionalize the lessons of Grozny during the war, they made a genuine effort to study its successes and failures once it was over. Most Russian analysts highlighted three key failures, one of them unique to Grozny and the other two generally applicable to the Chechen war as a whole. The first failure was that Russian forces had not effectively “blockaded” or sealed the city of Grozny prior to attack. The second failure was the poor coordination between the forces in theater, particularly the MVD and MoD. Air-ground coordination was also deficient. The third failure, discussed...

  11. Chapter Four CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 81-86)

    Many who looked at the first Chechen conflict, and at Russian forces in Grozny in that time frame, saw that campaign as the final proof of the Russian military’s demise. Hungry, ill-trained troops dying by the hundreds in an effort to subdue a renegade province do not make for good press. Conversely, tales of Russian success in 1999–2000 are read by some as a signal of Russia’s resurgence, the first step toward its return to claim the mantle of the USSR. Both assessments are exaggerated, polarized views. While neither is completely true, however, both have elements of accuracy.


    (pp. 87-102)