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The First Chechen Campaign


In 1993-94 the federal government abstained from intervening directly in Chechnya, using instead the tactics of providing military and financial support to armed Chechen opposition groups, which tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to depose Dudayev by force. Fighting between the Chechen government and the opposition escalated gradually in the autumn of 1994, intensifying sharply at the end of November.



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.

Russian troops 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 years 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 casualties.

Militarily 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 wars aims, a demoralized Russian army was bogged down in a humiliating and bitter war for nearly two years.

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The Chechen Problem

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