Chechnya The Continuing Conflict
Chechnya is situated in the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It is surrounded by Dagestan to the east, Georgia and South Ossetia to the south, Russia to the north and North Ossetia in the west. Chechnya is rich in mineral oil and produced twenty million tons per year before the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created the opportunity for the Russian provinces to declare their independence. The Russian government managed to keep its control of all states apart from Chechnya, which, under the new president Dzhokhar Dudayev, declared independence in October 1991.
The Russian Government did not approve this and President Yeltsin declared war against the newborn regime in 1994. Yeltsin feared that if they had not declared war the other Caucasus states may have followed suit, to prevent this they preferred to curb it at the out set. The second Chechen war, which began in September 1999, was a result of the actions taken by Russia in the first war and was a product of the same policies. The fight for independence for Chechnya has been ongoing since the Bolshevik Revolution and is one that will be fought well into the future if something is not done about it now.
The Russo-Chechen war that ended in 1996 should have given the Russian government a feel of things to come when they decided to attack in late September of last year. Triggered by security challenges to the State, Russia decided that the democracy would be in danger if they didn’t act. Russia was in a politically unstable situation right now with the resignation of Yeltsin, and the current Presidential elections looming. Also looming on the political horizon was the concern over rampant corruption in the government. If they had done nothing Yeltsin’s party would have stood to lose, yet Putin, (Yeltsin’s successor) succeeded in focusing the medias attention on the war rather that the domestic corruption.
This war has given rise to a huge influx of racial hatred that has again helped Putin. Because the majority of the Chechen’s are Muslim, and not of the same ethnic background as Russians, racial discrimination has helped to boost the wars popularity and subsequently Putins. The security of oil in the southern Caucasus states and its transportation routes are the main influential factors in the war that is being fought at the moment. That is not to say that there weren’t other very influential factors; According to Russian propaganda, Chechen gangs apparently kidnapped and ransomed hundreds of civilians and military personnel (This is however under scrutiny.). In the first Chechen war, Russia was faced with the situation of having to maintain the legitimacy of its government. Russian provinces were threatening secession and Chechnya was to be made an example of. The same sentiment prevailed in August 1999 when several thousand Muslim fighters, mostly Chechens invaded Dagestan, with...