Five Things We Can Learn from Chechnya’s Guerrilla Wars

Posted: June 4, 2015 in SWIG

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Chechnya is a very fascinating place (it’s a little smaller than the state of New Jersey – did you know?).  I’ve been reading a bunch of stuff about its history, spurred by reading Chapter 7 of Urban Guerrilla Warfare, which describes the Russian incursion into Grozny (1994-1996).  It turned out to be a “disgraceful failure” for the Russians, and for good reason: Chechens are rough and tumble fighters who, like the Afghans, have an eon of collective combat experience.

As early as the 13th and 14th Centuries, the Chechen people (Vainakh) had been invaded by and repelled two Mongol occupations.  And it was during this tumultuous period of time that the Chechens began resorting to guerrilla tactics to defend their mountain homeland.  (I find myself being reminded more and more of the nation’s relative youth.  Give North America another 500 years of recorded history, and our homeland may well see as war-torn a history as the Caucasus, too.)

The whole region was repeatedly invaded and harassed by the regional powers of the time until the late 19th Century when Chechnya was finally defeated and annexed by Russia.  The Russian methods of the time were to inundate Chechen areas with Russian troops, fighting by building series of outposts that slowly choked off freedom of movement for the Chechen guerrillas.  The Russians also razed villages and fields that provided support to the guerrillas.  The outcome was that Chechen fighters were confined to such small spaces, that fighting them became easier.

After Vladimir Lenin’s 1917 coup in Russia, the Chechens made a deal with the Bolsheviks (Communists) in order to gain Chechen independence.  Well into the 1930s, however, the Chechens wound up fighting a guerrilla conflict against the Bols who went back on their word and decided to take Chechnya for themselves.  Over a million Chechens ended up being killed or deported through World War II as part of the Stalinist strategy to break up Chechen nationalism.  The Stalinists burned Chechen books and destroyed mosques to “denationalize” the country because Stalin – a man of the Caucasus himself – understood Chechnya’s long history with nationalism and fighting guerrilla wars; wars that Stalin didn’t want to continue fighting until Kingdom come.

Before we get any further, understand that I don’t condone terrorism.  Chechens employed terrorism as part of their strategy against Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, because that’s what desperate, inferior forces do, especially when aided by religious ideology.  I do, however, respect Chechen nationalism because I wouldn’t want to live in Russia, either (nor would I ever want to live in Checnhya, however, “When in the Course of human events…”).

Full Story @ [guerrillamerica]

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