The Chechen–Russian conflict (Russian: Чеченский конфликт, Chechenskiy konflikt) is the centuries-long conflict, often armed, between the Russian (formerly Soviet) government and various Chechen forces. Formal hostilities date back to 1785, though elements of the conflict can be traced back considerably further.
The Russian Empire initially had little interest in the North Caucasus itself other than as a communication route to its ally Georgia and its enemies, the Persian and Ottoman Empires, but growing tensions triggered by Russian activities in the region resulted in an uprising of Chechens against the Russian presence in 1785, followed by further clashes and the outbreak of the Caucasian War in 1817. Russia only succeeded in suppressing the Chechen rebels in 1864.
During the Russian Civil War, Chechens and other Caucasian nations lived in independence for a few years before being Sovietized in 1921. During World War II, the Chechens saw the German invasion as an opportunity to revolt against the Soviet regime. In response, they were deported en masse to Central Asia where they were forced to stay until 1957.
The most recent conflict between Chechen and the Russian government took place in the 1990s. As the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Chechen separatists declared independence in 1991. By late 1994 the First Chechen War broke out and after two years of fighting the Russian forces withdrew from the region. In 1999, the fighting restarted and concluded the next year with the Russian security forces establishing control over Chechnya.
The Chechen Republic (red) within the Russian Federation
Wilayah al-Qawqaz (ISIL)
Various other groups
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus
Various other groups
The North Caucasus, a mountainous region that includes Chechnya, spans or lies close to important trade and communication routes between Russia and the Middle East, control of which have been fought over by various powers for millennia. Russia's entry into the region followed Tsar Ivan the Terrible's conquest of the Golden Horde's Khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan in 1556, initiating a long struggle for control of the North Caucasus routes with other contemporary powers including Persia, the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate. Internal divisions prevented Russia from effectively projecting its power into the region until the 18th century; however, Russian-allied Cossacks began settling the North Caucasus lowlands following Ivan's conquests, sparking tensions and occasional clashes with Chechens, who at this time were themselves increasingly settling the lowlands due to adverse climatic changes[a] in their traditional mountain strongholds.
In 1774, Russia gained control of Ossetia, and with it the strategically important Darial Pass, from the Ottomans. A few years later, in 1783, Russia signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with Georgia, making Georgia—a Christian enclave surrounded by hostile Muslim states—a Russian protectorate. To fulfill her obligations under the treaty, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, began construction of the Georgian Military Road through the Darial Pass, along with a series of military forts to protect the route. These activities, however, antagonized the Chechens, who saw the forts both as an encroachment on the traditional territories of the mountaineers and as a potential threat.
Around this time, Sheikh Mansur, a Chechen imam, began preaching a purified version of Islam and encouraging the various mountain peoples of the North Caucasus to unite under the banner of Islam in order to protect themselves from further foreign encroachments. His activities were seen by the Russians as a threat to their own interests in the region, and in 1785, a force was sent to capture him. Failing to do so, it burned his unoccupied home village instead, but the force was ambushed by Mansur's followers on its return journey and annihilated, beginning the first Chechen–Russian war. The war lasted several years, with Mansur employing mostly guerilla tactics and the Russians conducting further punitive raids on Chechen villages, until Mansur's capture in 1791. Mansur died in captivity in 1794.
In 1801, Russia formally annexed Georgia, deepening Russia's commitment to the region. In subsequent years, a growing number of small-scale raids and ambushes by Chechen fighters on Russian forces moving through the Caucasus prompted the Russians to mount two substantial military expeditions into Chechen territory, both of which were defeated, and Russian leaders began considering more drastic measures. These were postponed however by Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia.
After Russia's defeat of French Napoleonic forces in the 1812 war, Tsar Alexander I turned his attentions once more to the North Caucasus, assigning one of his most celebrated generals, Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov, to the pacification of the region. In 1817, Russian forces under Yermolov's command embarked upon the conquest of the Caucasus. Yermolov's brutal tactics, which included economic warfare, collective punishment and forcible deportations, were initially successful, but have been described as counterproductive since they effectively ended Russian influence on Chechen society and culture and ensured the Chechens' enduring enmity. Yermolov was not relieved of command until 1827.
A turning point in the conflict was marked in 1828 when the Muridism movement emerged. It was led by Imam Shamil. In 1834 he united the North Caucasus nations under Islam and declared "holy war" on Russia. In 1845 Shamil's forces surrounded and killed thousands of Russian soldiers and several generals in Dargo, forcing them to retreat.
During the Crimean War of 1853–6, the Chechens supported the Ottoman Empire against Russia. However, internal tribal conflicts weakened Shamil and he was captured in 1859. The war formally ended in 1862 when Russia promised autonomy for Chechnya and other Caucasian ethnic groups. However, Chechnya and the surrounding region, including northern Dagestan, were incorporated into Russia as the Terek Oblast.
After the Russian Revolution, the mountain people of the North Caucasus came to establish the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus. It existed until 1921, when they were forced to accept Soviet rule. Joseph Stalin personally held negotiations with the Caucasian leaders in 1921 and promised a wide autonomy inside the Soviet state. The Mountain Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created that year, but only lasted until 1924 when it was abolished and six republics were created. The Chechen–Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established in 1934. Confrontations between the Chechens and the Soviet government arose in the late 1920s during collectivization. It declined by the mid-1930s after local leaders were arrested or killed.
Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. According to Soviet sources, Chechens joined the Wehrmacht, although this claim is disputed as little evidence exists. By January 1943, the German retreat started, while the Soviet government began discussing the deportation of Chechen and Ingush people far from the North Caucasus. In February 1944, under the direct command of Lavrentiy Beria, almost half million Chechens and Ingush were removed from their homes and forcibly settled in Central Asia. They were put in forced labor camps in Kazakhstan and Kirgiziya. After Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev came to power and soon denounced his predecessor.
In 1957, Chechens were allowed to return to their homes. The Chechen–Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was reestablished. The violence began in 1958, upon a conflict between a Russian sailor and an Ingush youngster over a girl, in which the Russian was fatally injured. The incident quickly deteriorated into mass ethnic riots, as Slavic mobs attacked Chechens and Ingushes and looted property throughout the region for 4 days. Ethnic clashes continued through 1960s, and in 1965 some 16 clashes were reported, taking tall of 185 severe injuries, 19 of them fatal. By late 1960, the region calmed down and the Chechen–Russian conflict came to its lowest point until the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the eruption of Chechen Wars in 1990.
In 1991, Chechnya declared independence and was named the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. According to some sources, from 1991 to 1994, tens of thousands of people of non-Chechen ethnicity (mostly Russians, Ukrainians and Armenians) left the republic amidst reports of violence and discrimination against the non-Chechen population. Other sources do not identify displacement as a significant factor in the events of the period, instead focussing on the deteriorating domestic situation within Chechnya, the aggressive politics of the Chechyen President, Dzhokhar Dudayev, and the domestic political ambitions of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Russian Army forces were commanded into Grozny in 1994 but, after two years of intense fighting, the Russian troops eventually withdrew from Chechnya under the Khasavyurt Accord. Chechnya preserved its de facto independence until the second war broke out in 1999.
In 1999, the Russian government forces started an anti-terrorist campaign in Chechnya, in response to the invasion of Dagestan by Chechen-based Islamic forces. By early 2000 Russia almost completely destroyed the city of Grozny and succeeded in putting Chechnya under direct control of Moscow. According to Norman Naimark, "serious evidence indicates that Russian government developed plans to deport the Chechens once again in the mid-1990s if they had lost the war."
Since the end of the Second Chechen War in May 2000, low-level insurgency has continued, particularly in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. Russian security forces have succeeded in eliminating some of their leaders, such as Shamil Basayev, who was killed on July 10, 2006. After Basayev's death, Dokka Umarov took the leadership of the rebel forces in North Caucasus until his death owing to poisoning in 2013.
Radical Islamists from Chechnya and other North Caucasian republics have been held responsible for a number of terrorist attacks throughout Russia, most notably the Russian apartment bombings in 1999, the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings and the Domodedovo International Airport bombing in 2011.
Currently, Chechnya is now under the rule of its Russian-appointed leader: Ramzan Kadyrov. Though the oil-rich region has maintained relative stability under Mr. Kadyrov, he has been accused by critics and citizens of suppressing freedom of the press and violating other political and human rights. Because of this continued Russian rule, there have been minor guerilla attacks by separatist groups in the area. Further adding to the tension, jihadist groups aligned with the Islamic State exist in the region.
The exact casualties of this conflict are difficult to ascertain due to lack of records and the long time period of the clashes. One source indicates that at least 60,000 Chechens were killed in the First and Second Chechen War in the 1990s and 2000s alone.  High estimates of these two wars range of up to 150,000 or 160,000 killed, as put by Taus Djabrailov, the head of Chechnya's interim parliament.
Russian military involvement into the Caucasus started early in the 18th century and in 1785–1791 the first major rebellion in Chechnya against the imperial rule took place.
After Basayev's death in 2006, the Chechen and Caucasus jihadists united under the command of Doku Umarov, one of the last remaining original leaders of the Chechen rebellion and a close associate of al Qaeda.
The 1940–44 insurgency in Chechnya was an autonomous revolt against the Soviet authorities in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Beginning as early as June 1941 under Khasan Israilov, it peaked in 1942 during the German invasion of North Caucasus and ended in the beginning of 1944 with the wholesale concentration and deportation of the Vainakh peoples (Chechens and Ingushes) from their native lands as well as from the locations across the USSR, resulting in the death of at least 144,000 civilians. However, scattered resistance in the mountains continued for years.Borz
The Borz (Борз, Chechen for "wolf") submachine gun is one of a number of improvised firearms produced in Chechnya. It was produced in small numbers from 1992 to 1999. It was used primarily by Chechen separatists. It is named after the Borz (wolf) because of its position as Chechnya's national animal.Chechen–Slav ethnic clashes (1958–65)
The Chechen-Slav ethnic clashes took place from 1958 to 1965 in North Caucasus (part of the Soviet Union at the time), upon ethnic tensions between Slavic settlers and local Chechens and Ingushs. The violence began in 1958, upon a conflict between a Russian sailor and an Ingush youngster over a girl, in which the Russian was fatally injured. The incident quickly deteriorated into mass ethnic riots in Grozny and surroundings, as Slavic mobs attacked Chechens and Ingushs and looted property throughout the region for 4 days. Ethnic clashes continued through 1960s, and in 1965 some 16 clashes were reported, taking tall of 185 severe injuries, 19 of them fatal. By late 1960, the region calmed down and the Chechen-Russian conflict came to its lowest point until the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the eruption of Chechen Wars in 1990.Congress of the Peoples of Ichkeria and Dagestan
The Congress of the Peoples of Ichkeria and Dagestan (Russian: Конгресс народов Ичкерии и Дагестана; abbreviated CPID) was an Islamist terrorist organization under the joint control of Chechen rebel leaders, founded in 1998. One of its subordinates was the Islamic International Brigade, a mujahideen movement that was a major combatant in the War of Dagestan. The objective of the CPID was to establish an Islamic caliphate in the North Caucasus.First Chechen War
The First Chechen War (Russian: Пе́рвая чече́нская война́), also known as the First Chechen Сampaign (Russian: Пе́рвая чече́нская кампа́ния), First Russian-Chechen war, or officially (from Russian point of view) Armed conflict in the Chechen Republic and on bordering territories of the Russian Federation (Russian: Вооруженный конфликт в Чеченской Республике и на прилегающих к ней территориях Российской Федерации) was a rebellion by the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria against the Russian Federation, fought from December 1994 to August 1996. After the initial campaign of 1994–1995, culminating in the devastating Battle of Grozny, Russian federal forces attempted to seize control of the mountainous area of Chechnya but were set back by Chechen guerrilla warfare and raids on the flatlands despite Russia's overwhelming advantages in firepower, manpower, weaponry, artillery, combat vehicles, airstrikes and air support. The resulting widespread demoralization of federal forces and the almost universal opposition of the Russian public to the conflict led Boris Yeltsin's government to declare a ceasefire with the Chechens in 1996 and sign a peace treaty a year later.
The official figure for Russian military deaths is 5,732, while most estimates put the number between 3,500 and 7,500, or even as high as 14,000. Although there are no accurate figures for the number of Chechen forces killed, various estimates put the number at about 3,000 to 17,391 deaths and missing. Various figures estimate the number of civilian deaths at between 30,000 and 100,000 killed and possibly over 200,000 injured, while more than 500,000 people were displaced by the conflict, which left cities and villages across the republic in ruins. The conflict led to a significant decrease of non-Chechen population due to violence and discrimination.Insurgency in the North Caucasus
The insurgency in the North Caucasus was a low-level armed conflict between Russia and militants associated with the Caucasus Emirate and, since June 2015, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) groups. It followed the official end of the decade-long Second Chechen War on 16 April 2009. It attracted people from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, who then participated in the conflict, but volunteers from the North Caucasus are also fighting in Syria. Also used is the name Armed Conflict in the North Caucasus (Russian: Вооружённый конфликт на Севером Кавказе).
The insurgency has gone relatively dormant in recent years. During its peak, the violence was mostly concentrated in the North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. Occasional incidents happened in surrounding regions, like North Ossetia-Alania, Karachay-Cherkessia, Stavropol Krai and Volgograd Oblast.Islamic Djamaat of Dagestan
The Islamic Djamaat of Dagestan, known in Russia as the Kadar zone (Russian: Кадарская зона), was an Islamist political entity in the Buynaksky District of Dagestan consisting of the fortified villages of Kadar, Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi. In the late 1990s, the Djamaat, heavily influenced by militant Wahhabism, declared independence and ejected Dagestani officials from the area. After a series of armed conflicts with Dagestani police and local moderate Muslims, the Djamaat broke off from government control. Sharia law was introduced in the villages, the Russian Constitution was declared void and an alliance was signed with Chechen forces with the aim of establishing an Independent Islamic Republic in the Caucasus.
Chechnya-based militants led by warlords Shamil Basaev and Ibn Al-Khattab launched an armed invasion of Dagestan in the autumn of 1999. While the invasion was resisted by Dagestani civilians and Russian troops, a retributive military attack was launched against the Djamaat. In the ensuing fighting, the three villages were destroyed and the Djamaat's militants left the area on 15 September 1999.Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade
The Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (Russian: Исламская международная миротворческая бригада; abbreviated IIPB), also known as the Islamic International Brigade, the Islamic Peacekeeping Army, was the name of an international Islamist terrorist mujahideen organization, founded in 1998.Islamic religious police of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
The Islamic religious police of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (Russian: Шариатская гвардия Чеченской Республики Ичкерия) were an executive body within the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria's Ministry of Internal Affairs. It had jurisdiction to carry out orders by Sharia courts and were the guards in prisons in parts of Chechnya. The Islamic religious police were led by Abdel-Malik Mezhidov, a Chechen warlord.Pankisi Gorge crisis
The Pankisi Gorge crisis was a political crisis with military dimension in Georgia early in the 2000s. Georgia was pressured by Russia and the United States to repress the threats of Al-Qaeda in the Pankisi Gorge.Russian apartment bombings
The Russian apartment bombings were a series of explosions that hit four apartment blocks in the Russian cities of Buynaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk between 4 and 16 September 1999, killing 367 people and injuring more than 1,000, spreading a wave of fear across the country. To date, no one has taken responsibility for the bombings; the Russian government blamed Chechen militants, although they, along with Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov, denied responsibility. The bombings, together with the Dagestan War, led the country into the Second Chechen War. Then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's handling of the crisis boosted his popularity and helped him attain the presidency within a few months.On 22 September, an explosive device similar to those used in the bombings was found and defused in an apartment block in the Russian city of Ryazan. The next day, Putin praised the vigilance of the inhabitants of Ryazan and ordered the air bombing of Grozny, marking the beginning of the Second Chechen War. Thirty-six hours later, local police arrested the perpetrators, who were discovered to in fact be three FSB agents. The Russian government declared that the incident had simply been a training exercise, and the agents were released on Moscow's orders.Parliament member Yuri Shchekochikhin filed two motions for a parliamentary investigation, but the motions were rejected by the Russian Duma in March 2000. An independent public commission to investigate the bombings was chaired by Duma deputy Sergei Kovalev, but the commission was rendered ineffective due to the Russian government's refusal to respond to its inquiries. The official Russian investigation of the bombings was completed in 2002 and concluded that all the bombings were organised and led by Achemez Gochiyayev, who remains at large, and ordered by Islamist warlords Ibn Al-Khattab and Abu Omar al-Saif, who have been killed. Five other suspects have been killed and six have been convicted by Russian courts on terrorism-related charges.
A number of historians and observers have stated that the bombings were a false flag attempt, coordinated by Russian state security services to bring Putin into the presidency. Those who hold this view point to a number of pieces of evidence, including the Ryazan incident, the fact that the Volgodonsk bombing was erroneously announced three days before it happened by Russian Duma speaker Gennadiy Seleznyov, and the fact that supposed prime suspect Achemez Gochiyayev told police that he was being set up by the FSB, and notified police about two still-unexploded bombs, which they were able to find and deactivate in time. Also notable are the untimely deaths of various observers who called the official story into question: Kovalev Commission members Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin (both of whom were apparently assassinated in 2003), and former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who blamed the FSB for the bombings in two books, and was poisoned by FSB agents in London in 2006. Additionally, the Commission's lawyer and investigator, Mikhail Trepashkin, was arrested and served four years in prison for revealing state secrets.Russian government censorship of Chechnya coverage
Since the start of the Second Chechen War in 1999, Russian federal authorities are alleged to have implemented a plan to use legal and extralegal methods to limit media access to the conflict region.Second Chechen War
Second Chechen War (Russian: Втора́я чече́нская война́), also known as the Second Chechen Сampaign (Russian: Втора́я чече́нская кампа́ния) or officially (from Russian point of view) Counter-terrorist operations on territories of North Caucasian region (Russian: Контртеррористические операции на территории Северо-Кавказского региона), was an armed conflict on the territory of Chechnya and the border regions of the North Caucasus between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, also with militants of various Islamist groups, fought from August 1999 to April 2009.
On 9 August 1999, Islamist fighters from Chechnya infiltrated Russia's Dagestan region, declaring it an independent state and calling for a jihad until "all unbelievers had been driven out". On 1 October, Russian troops entered Chechnya. The campaign ended the de facto independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and restored Russian federal control over the territory.
During the initial campaign, Russian military and pro-Russian Chechen paramilitary forces faced Chechen separatists in open combat, and seized the Chechen capital Grozny after a winter siege that lasted from late 1999 until February 2000. Russia established direct rule of Chechnya in May 2000 and after the full-scale offensive, Chechen militant resistance throughout the North Caucasus region continued to inflict heavy Russian casualties and challenge Russian political control over Chechnya for several more years. Some Chechen separatists also carried out attacks against civilians in Russia. These attacks, as well as widespread human rights violations by Russian and separatist forces, drew international condemnation.
In mid-2000, the Russian government transferred certain military operations to pro-Russian Chechen forces. The military phase of operations was terminated in April 2002, and the coordination of the field operations were given first to the Federal Security Service and then to the MVD in the summer of 2003.
By 2009, Russia had severely disabled the Chechen separatist movement and large-scale fighting ceased. Russian army and interior ministry troops no longer occupied the streets. Grozny underwent reconstruction efforts and much of the city and surrounding areas were rebuilt quickly. Sporadic violence continues throughout the North Caucasus; occasional bombings and ambushes targeting federal troops and forces of the regional governments in the area still occur.On 15 April 2009, the government operation in Chechnya was officially over. As the main bulk of the army was withdrawn, the burden of dealing with the low-level insurgency mainly fell on the shoulders of the local police force. Three months later the exiled leader of the separatist government, Akhmed Zakayev, called for a halt to armed resistance against the Chechen police force starting on 1 August and said he hoped that "starting with this day Chechens will never shoot at each other".The exact death toll from this conflict is unknown. Unofficial sources estimate a range from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians in Chechnya. Russian casualties are over 5,200 (official Russian casualty figures) and are about 11,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers.The Pathologies
The Pathologies (Russian: Патологии) is a 2005 novel by the Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin. The Pathologies is a story about Chechen War.
This novel was published in 2005 in Andreevskiy Flag (Russia).Tukhchar massacre
The Tukhchar massacre was an incident during the War of Dagestan, filmed and distributed on tape, in which Russian prisoners of war were executed. Throughout the war, Russian soldiers reported finding taped executions of Russian officers and men. Experts say such films were an attempt to frighten enemy soldiers and advertise their deeds. Some videos were later sold as snuff films and ended up online. One tape created in September 1999 showed six Russian servicemen, one as young as 19, being brutally executed by Chechen terrorists. The video, both in part and in whole, has been uploaded to various video streaming sites such as LiveLeak, where it is also known as the Dagestan beheadings. English-language sites often contain misinformation about the event, including the names of the soldiers, the name of the Chechen commander, and the year. As a result, the event has been mistakenly identified as the 1996 filmed execution of four Russian soldiers at the end of the First Chechen War.War in Ingushetia
The War in Ingushetia (Russian: Война в Ингушетии) began in 2007 as an escalation of an insurgency in Ingushetia connected to the separatist conflict in Chechnya. The conflict has been described as a civil war by local human rights activists and opposition politicians; others have referred to it as an uprising. By mid-2009 Ingushetia had surpassed Chechnya as the most violent of the North Caucasus republics. However, by 2015 the insurgency in the Republic had greatly weakened, and the casualty toll declined substantially in the intervening years.War of Dagestan
The War of Dagestan began when the Chechnya-based Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade (IIPB), an Islamist group, led by warlords Shamil Basayev and Ibn al-Khattab, invaded the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan, on 7 August 1999, in support of the Shura of Dagestan separatist rebels. The war ended with a major victory for the Russian Federation and Dagestan Republic, and the retreat of the IIPB. The Invasion of Dagestan was the casus belli for the Second Chechen War.War on Terror (disambiguation)
The War on Terror may refer to the following:
War on terror - counter-terrorism policies and efforts by various countries
War on Terrorism - Russian Empire's crackdown on the Anarchist Wave of the Nihilist movement in late 19th and early 21st century
War on Terror - policies by the United Kingdom during the period of Anti-colonial Wave from 1920s to mid-20th century
War on Terror - Russian nickname in the media to the Chechen–Russian conflict
War on Terror - a U.S.-led international military campaign (2001–present)
War on Terror - a Chinese campaign of crackdown on the Xinjiang insurgency in 2010sZachistka
Zachistka (Russian: зачистка) is an unofficial Russian military term for a "mopping-up operation" featuring armed patrols and house-to-house searches. The term is mostly associated with, but not exclusive to, the "insurgency phase" of the Second Chechen War following the reinstatement of Russian rule in Chechnya. Several zachistka operations became notorious for their accused or confirmed human rights violations by Russian forces, including ethnic cleansing and pillaging, and the term zachistka is exclusively used in English to refer to these violations, particularly in Chechnya.
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