The last of the rebel “old guard” are hunted down, killed, or driven into exile. Chechen traitor/Russian puppet Ramzan Kadyrov rules Chechnya through fear. A generation of traumatized and/or radicalized children remain. Some depart for the bloodbaths of Ukraine or Syria in a tragic epilogue. What’s next? How do we evaluate the legacy of the struggle?
For Further Awesome Reading…
Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya by Sebastian Smith
This is hard-hitting embedded journalism, but Smith does a great job introducing the roots of the Chechen conflict in the opening chapters. From there he covers his experiences on the frontlines reporting the war for the French Press in the mid-90s.
Inferno in Chechnya: The Russian-Chechen Wars, the Al Qaeda Myth, and the Boston Marathon Bombings by Brian Glyn-Williams
In-depth historical look at the conflict and its roots. I wish it had been by a better writer: this is one of those books that you read after you’re already interested deeply in the subject. It wouldn’t make a convert out of anybody else. Still, there’s really useful stuff here and it’s easy to read.
The Lost American: Killing Chechnya by Fred Cuny
This is an excellent article by an embedded American journalist—one who paid the ultimate price for his bravery in reporting. While he was with the rebels, Russian double agents passed along false information that he was a Russian spy, resulting in his execution. The opening paragraphs of this article, written in 1995, are eerily accurate for the future Cuny would never see.
The Sky Wept Fire by Mikhail Eldin
This is a personal account of a Chechen fighter and spy during the 1990s. While occasionally a little too purple in prose, it captures the desperate position of the guerrillas well.
One Soldier’s War by Arkady Babchenko
A personal account from the other side: a Russian conscript, but then, curiously, a volunteer. Babchenko recounts the hazing, poor training, and hopeless situation of the Russian draftee deployed to Chechnya, and the moral trouble and “gunpowder disease” (read: addiction to combat) of the redeployed volunteer. Grim book, worth reading for anyone.
Jocko Podcast #13: Chechens vs. Russians
Jocko has a great podcast in general, but this one is particularly relevant here as he analyzes U.S. and Russian military primary sources for conclusions about urban combat in the Chechen Wars. Jocko does a great job breaking down the disintegration of morale in the Russian forces and the discipline problems that resulted, along with the effective tactics of the guerrillas. If you like this one, check out his review of Babchenko’s book as well.
For the tactical observation text Jocko references:
The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad by Robert W. Schaefer
Schaefer is a Special Forces Colonel and intelligence analyst. I love this book because it was made to be informative for future analysis and action as it concerns this conflict, and it comes from a military expert. Too many books on Chechnya are written by amateur scholars trying to grab a buck or arrogant, ignorant blowhards like Mark Galeotti (avoid his work). Schaefer is occasionally a little dry, but he’s the real deal.
Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State
Chienne de Guerre: A Woman Reporter Behind the Lines of the War in Chechnya
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