Winning: Whatever Happened to Chechnya?


February25, 2007: Largely unnoticed by the rest of the world, Russia has defeated an Islamic terrorist movement in Chechnya. It took a while, and involved some trial and error. When Chechnya first tried to separate itself from Russia (after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991), Russia responded with an inept military operation (1994-6) that killed over 35,000 people, and failed. Russia withdrew and left the Chechens to their own devices. In effect, the Chechens could pretend they were independent, while the Russians pretended they weren't. Problem was, the Chechens could not agree on how to form a unified government, and stumbled into a perpetual civil war. Along they way, some factions adopted Islamic radicalism, and began moving into adjacent areas, that were still very much under Russian control. Other, less religious, factions, used Chechnya as a safe haven for smuggling and kidnapping operations throughout southern Russia. In 1999, the Russians came back in, and the second pacification campaign made greater use of Special Forces and better trained and led troops in general. This campaign killed about 5,000 people, but succeeded. The main reason for the success was the use of an ancient Russian technique. Basically, the Russians sought out Chechens who would be willing to run Chechnya, under Russian supervision, as long as they could keep the crime and terrorism under control. The Russians didn't care how "their Chechens" did it, as long as there was not a return to the 1994-9 era of rampant criminal activity. And no Islamic terrorism either. Over the last few years, the violence, and Islamic terrorism inside Chechnya, and Russia, declined.

Russia has been periodically pacifying Chechnya for two centuries using these techniques. While the mass media condemned Russia for its brutal tactics, the Russians didn't care. They didn't care in the past, when criticized by foreign governments and media. They don't care, because they know they'll have to do it again in the future. Meanwhile, with the Chechnya problem "solved," Russia is improving its relations with Moslem nations, as a way to immunize itself from additional Islamic terrorism. Russias new Moslem friends are now less likely to support Islamic radicals trying to gain a foothold among Russias growing Moslem population. Russian diplomatic efforts were supported by offers to sell weapons and providing diplomatic support in the UN, and in other international venues. This has worked, and Russia is now much more popular in Moslem nations, despite the defeat of the Moslem people in Chechnya. When reminded of this, the Russians merely point out that, currently, it's Moslems killing Moslems in Chechnya, and that sort of thing is accepted throughout the Moslem world.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close