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Dudayev's Regime


Dudayev exploited the difficult situation in Russia to strengthen his authoritarian regime and to prepare for the time when Russia would be inevitably compelled to turn its attention to the secessionist province. In a short period of time a compact, well-trained, and well-equipped illegal army was built up in Chechnya. Most of its commanding corps was drawn from the former Soviet military, many of whom had had the experience of the Afghan war behind them. Aslan Maskhadov, for instance, the head of staff of Dudayevís armed units, had been a commander of a Soviet artillery regiment during the Afghan campaign.  

Aslan Maskhadov

Simultaneously, Dudayevís regime actively recruited mercenaries from the Baltic states, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Turkey, and other countries, selecting, as a rule, fighters with experience in guerrilla and terrorist warfare in mountains and urban areas. Many of the Chechen militants had been tested in armed conflicts in the territory of the former Soviet Union, including Karabakh and Abkhaziya.

Dudayevís regime used psychological and physical terror against the Russian military personnel stationed in the province to provide his army units with modern weapons and military equipment. In 1991-92 Moscow was compelled to withdraw its troops from the province to avoid major bloodshed. However, substantial munitions stores were left behind, including 42 tanks, 270 planes, 139 artillery systems, and loads of other military equipment. All this weaponry was illegally appropriated by Dudayevís clique and distributed to the Chechen armed units.

In hindsight, the biggest mistake of the political and military leadership of the Soviet Union and Russia was that it failed to prevent the seizure of huge stocks of modern weapons and military equipment of the Soviet army by Dudayevís detachments. The rebelsí military units led by the former commander of a Soviet strategic air force division were equipped on a par with the armed forces of some smaller western European countries.

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The Chechen Problem

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Russian Federation

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