Russia: October 26, 1999


The Russians have offered a bounty of one million dollars for anyone (Chechen, Russian, even a Russian soldier) who turns over Chechen leader Shamil Basayev, dead or alive. Rockets have been reported landing near buildings in Grozny that Basayev is known to frequent. Russia has begun work on a pipeline that will move oil from the Caspian wells off Azerbaijan to the Russian Black Sea coast, without passing through Chechnya, as the current one does. This project will cost about $250 million.

October 25; Russian troops have run into more determined resistance as they get closer to Grozny. The Chechens have fortified villages and filled them with heavily armed and determined fighters. The Russians are blasting any village suspected of being used by Chechen troops. As a result of all this bombing and shelling, many civilians are being killed and injured, and many more made homeless in the face of the approaching winter.

October 24; The USSR had always espoused a "No First Use" policy of nuclear weapons. The West generally derided this policy, noting that the huge Soviet tank armies could only be stopped by tactical nuclear weapons, so a non-nuclear war would favor the Soviets. Other analysts were convinced that the Soviets would not hesitate to launch a nuclear first strike if they thought they could hit the US and West so hard that it would not be hit back. In 1993, the new non-Soviet Russia had adopted a policy allowing first use of nuclear weapons, although the complete text was kept secret. The new 1999 military policy document for the first time openly reserves the right to the first use of nuclear weapons.--Stephen V Cole

October 24; The FBI is investigating several cases of money laundering and stock market manipulation by Russian mobsters. One group reportedly tried to affect the price of stocks on Wall Street by using a pile of cash and threats against key stock market columnists and analysts. Other Russian mobsters are trying to coerce two San Francisco banks into laundering money for them.--Stephen V Cole

October 23; Russian troops have sealed the Chechen border with Ingushetia (Chechnyas western border.) This has also cut off the principal escape route for Chechen refugees fleeing the fighting in Chechnya.

October 22; Russia has denied firing SCUD type missiles into Grozny (Russia no longer uses the Scud, but several newer missiles of the same general range and payload.)

October 21; A Russian bombing attack on a suspected arms market in the Chechen capital of Grozny killed over a hundred civilians. The Chechens deny there was any arms market, but the Russians apparently do have agents in Grozny reporting on Chechen military operations in the city. Russian bombers and artillery also attacked the Presidential Palace, seeking to kill some of the Chechen leaders. The Russians appear to be using bombing and artillery heavily as their troops continue to surround the Chechen capital, with some units now 12 kilometers from the city center. Russian troops already hold some of the high ground overlooking the city (which extends into several valleys.). There are some 90,000 troops in Chechnya. During the 1993-96 war in Chechnya, the Russians sent only about 30,000 soldiers in.

October 20; For the second time in a month, Russian did a test launch of one of its ICBMs. The test was successful. This kind of testing is needed to make sure the ICBMs are being maintained properly and are ready for action. Russian weapons development has continued throughout the 1990s, although at a slower pace than before the Cold War ended. The Russians have been using, with some success, a new generation of smart bombs and missiles in Chechnya. More than 170,000 Chechen's have fled northern Chechnya as the Russian columns close in on the capital Grozny. 

October 19; Russian troops massed only 30 kilometers from the Chechen capital of Grozny. Large quantities of artillery and ammunition were being brought forward, as the Russians are letting bombs and shells do most of the fighting for them. Although most of the infantry are well trained and paid ($1,000 a month, ten times the normal pay scale), the Russians are not eager to waste a lot of these troops in straight ahead ground attacks. While the Chechens are resisting the Russian advance, they have no way to resist the massive use of shells and smart bombs, followed by experienced infantry and reasonably good tactical leadership. Today, some of them began to return to territory controlled by the Russians. Many of the refugees found only smoking ruins where their villages used to be.

October 19; The Russian Army is at its lowest point in two centuries. Of 1.2 million troops on the rolls, only 100,000 are considered combat capable.--Stephen V Cole




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