March 10, 2004

Russia's Chechnya Victory

StrategyPage is noting Russian progress in Chechnya. No permalink and its short so here's the item below:

March 9, 2004: In Chechnya, rebel leader Magomed Khambiyev and an aide surrendered to Russian forces. Khambiyev was the right hand man to senior Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov. The war in Chechnya has turned into a civil war, with more and more Chechens backing the pro-Russian government. Most of the police are now Chechen, although Russian commandoes do most of the patrolling and raiding (of rebel camps) up in the mountains. 

Turning this from an outsider v. local conflict to a civil war is a major step forward for Russia. It becomes progressively more difficult for rebels to rail against the nasty foreigners when they're shooting at more and more chechens and there are fewer and fewer visibly russian faces in the administration. Retaining the loyalty of that chechen administration will require a somewhat hands off policy and significant material support from Moscow but that's likely all that the great mass of chechens ever wanted in the first place.

There seems to be a way out of this for Russia with an unambiguous win. For the US, the big opportunity is to learn whether there were any Russian innovations which we could pick up in standing up a friendly local government and offer some advice in exchange on some ways we would do (and are doing) things better. The main benefit is the military to military connectivity though, not any mutual incremental benefit in solving such problems.

Posted by TMLutas at March 10, 2004 08:05 AM