On 10 December
Yeltsin ordered the borders of Chechnya sealed, and the following
day Russian troops entered Chechnya with the intention of disarming
the illegal armed detachments of separatists and restoring
constitutional order in the province.
made slow and very costly progress toward Grozny, the capital, amid
a growing chorus of criticism of Russian involvement – in Chechnya
itself, among many Russian civilians and politicians, even in the
military, and almost universally abroad. Russian troops had not
secured Grozny by year’s end, as had initially been planned.
Augmented Russian forces totaling perhaps 40,000 troops managed to
take Grozny in March 1995, but at the cost of heavy civilian
defeated, the rebels took to the southern hills of Chechnya and
launched daring attacks on the occupying Russian forces. Instead of
retaliating with its full military might, the actions of the Russian
army remained muddled and inconclusive. With little public support
for its mission and without a clear understanding of the war’s aims,
a demoralized Russian army was bogged down in a humiliating and
bitter war for nearly two years.