Russia: December 4, 2000


Reports from the Second Chechen War indicate that the Russian Army had learned the lessons of the First better than the OMON special police units. The Russian Army never sent convoys without armored escort, helicopter gunships on call, and artillery with fire registration already plotted for likely ambush sites. The OMON troops all too often dispensed with these precautions, and paid the price. Army convoys that fell into ambushes usually repulsed the rebels with light casualties and short engagements, while OMON convoys that were ambushed often fought hour-long pitched battles before relief troops could reach them. The Chechen rebels insist that they knocked out 13 of the new T-90 Russian tanks, but the Russians insist that they have not sent any tanks of this type into Chechnya, but only T-72Ms. It is not impossible that the Russians have issued false statements on the types of tanks used, but it appears more likely that the Chechens mistook one of the many slightly-different variants of the T-72 for the very similar T-90. The Russians have sent many T-62s to the Chechen theater, insisting that these are adequate for combat there and that they do not want to use up more modern tanks when they are receiving very few new production vehicles.--Stephen V Cole


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