Monday, January 31, 2022

Another Anniversary of an Event that Cast a Shadow on Russia’s Future – Moscow’s Launch of First Chechen War

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 11 – On December 11, 1994, Boris Yeltsin sent a massive Russian force into the Chechen Republic-Ichkeria, an effort that ultimately failed but that at least in part became the model in many ways for Vladimir Putin’s second post-Soviet war against that North Caucasus republic and his later aggression against other states.

            Few other than the Chechens themselves are marking this anniversary in any way, but the pro-Ichkeria portal KavkazCenter has performed a useful service in assembling a chronology of the weeks leading up to the invasion (

            What is striking about this series of events is how similar they were to the playbook Vladimir Putin used in 1999 when he launched a second post-Soviet Chechen war that boosted him into the presidency and that ended in a nominal Russian victory that has left Moscow paying tribute to Grozny and allowing its leader to act with impunity against others.

            Below is a selection of the most instructive high points of the chronology KavkazCenter has provided:

Nov. 2 – Yeltsin signs “secret order N-2137Ts” outlining plans for military action against Chechnya.

Nov. 13 – Yeltsin issues an ultimatum to the Chechnya to lay down its arms, an ultimatum he knows in advance will not be fulfilled and a refusal which Moscow planned to use to justify military action.

Nov. 17 – Russian special services blow up a railroad bridge in Moscow oblast and blame the Chechens for this action. The next day, the same thing is repeated at another bridge near the Russian capital.

Dec. 1 – Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev announces his willingness to negotiate with Russian President Boris Yeltsin but the Kremlin ignores the offer.

Dec.  6 – The Ingushetia vice president invites Dudayev to negotiate with Russian Defense Minister Grachev.

Dec. 6 – Dudayev declares that “the aggressive policy of Russia is provoking the growth of Islamist attitudes in Chechnya” and warns that outside forces may become a third force in Chechnya working against both his government and cooperation with Moscow.

Dec. 8-10 – Unmarked helicopters distribute circulars of “a top secret order” from Moscow threatening to deport the entire population of Chechnya” to various parts of Russia.

Dec. 9 – Yeltsin signs Order 2169 which calls for all available Russian forces to be used to disarm band formations in the North Caucasus.

And on Dec. 11 – Approximately 100,000 Russian soldiers and 6,000 pieces of military equipment invade the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from the side of Ingushetia, Daghestan and Stavropol Kray. 


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