Russia: June 14, 2002


Chechen rebels appear to be hunting Federal helicopters in Chechnya's Vedeno gorge. By 10 June, Russian Army aviation and Interior Ministry helicopters have come under fire seven times since the month started. The guerrillas mainly attack the helicopters' forward cones in an attempt to hit crewmembers during the take-off or final approach. The Army Aviation group command ordered that combat and transport helicopters crews use several special tactical methods against enemy firing points, but the rebels found other ways to press home their attacks. 

On the afternoon of the 12th, a rebel group attacked a helicopter pad in the Vedeno village where an MI-8 Hip helicopter with reporters from national television companies was expected to land. The group was expected to arrive to Vedeno from Grozny, to report about celebration of Russia Day in the district center. The helicopter arrived later than expected, due to clouds and fog in the landing area. The deputy military commandant of the Vedeno district in charge of aviation, two signalmen and two officers of the district police department came to meet the helicopter. Half an hour after the helicopter's arrival, the rebels opened fire from a nearby forest-covered hill with GP25 underbarrel grenade launchers in an attempt to destroy the visitors. Three Defense Ministry servicemen and three policemen were wounded. An investigation was opened to find out how rebels learned about the reporters' visit to Vedeno. 

The Russian Army in Chechnya is heavily dependent on helicopter sorties. During the first full week of June, Army aviation helicopters flew about 750 sorties and delivering 40 tons of cargo, escorting 65 military convoys and 10 trains, as well as flying 14 strike missions. - Adam Geibel

Combat operations in Chechnya have left one soldier and 12 rebels dead. 


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