Cultural Revolutions

The Chechen War Far From Over

The Chechen War, as the Russian leadership discovered in early March, is far from over. On the night of March 2, a convoy of nine trucks, carrying about 100 Internal Ministry special forces troops from Grozny to the strategically important crossroads village of Pervomayskava, was ambushed by an estimated 40 Chechen boyevikiy ("fighters" or "warriors"). The first and last trucks were taken out by rocket-propelled grenades; the Chechens then rained heavy machine-gun fire on the trucks trapped in between. Around 40 of the special forces troops were killed and around 20 wounded, according to Russian media reports. Meanwhile, other Chechen troops counterattacked near the mouth of the Argun gorge in southern Chechnya, briefly re-capturing several villages, then melting back into the snowy mountain passes.

The Russian military appeared confused, at first denying that a successful counterattack had taken place, then gradually revealing approximately what had happened. Vladimir Putin, appearing shaken and angry, told Russian television that the "incompetence" of certain unnamed MVD officers was at fault. The most embarrassing part of the entire episode was that the ambush had taken place in the "secure zone," an area that the Russians had allegedly "mopped up" after entering Grozny.

Very few people asked the obvious question: Did the Russian military, flush with "victory"...

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