‘Russia’s Wars in Chechnya, 1994-2009’ out today!

A quick moment for self-publicity: my new book Russia’s Wars in Chechnya, 1994-2009  is out today, published by Osprey in their Essential Histories series and available as both a paperback and Kindle e-book. A slim, yet I hope comprehensive overview, it covers not just the causes and conduct of both Chechen wars, but also the wider implications for Russia and also a sense of the impacts on those involved, from Chechen civilians to Russian combatants. Here is the blurb:

Osprey Chechnya CoverFeaturing specially drawn full-color mapping and drawing upon a wide range of sources, this succinct account explains the origins, history and consequences of Russia’s wars in Chechnya, thereby shedding new light on the history – and prospects – of that troubled region.

Mark Galeotti, an expert on the conflict, traces the progress of the wars, from the initial Russian advance through to urban battles such as Grozny, and the prolonged guerrilla warfare based in the mountainous regions that is common to both wars. He assesses how the wars have torn apart the fabric of Chechen society and their impact on Russia itself, where they have influenced presidential elections and widened the gulf between the military and the rest of society. These were savage conflicts which combined at different times the characteristics of an imperial war, a civil war and a terrorist campaign. The rich tradition of banditry in Chechnya, exemplified by the disproportionately large numbers of Chechens in the Spetsnaz special forces, gave the conflict its particular character, as did the steady shift from the initial nationalism to being inspired by a wider Islamic jihad.

My next Osprey book, by the way, due out in mid-2015, is Spetsnaz: Russia’s special forces for their Elite series.

Leave a comment


  1. It will be my first thought tomorrow buy this book by one of the authority in this field.

  2. I think this will be a very important work for an audience which ought to be wider than might at first be expected. given the known presence of Chechens in Islamist forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan and now with ISIS, as well as reports of Chechens fighting with ( alongside) Russian and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, the author’s comments about disproportionate numbers of Chechens in the Spetsnaz forces becomes very significant indeed.

  3. Martyna Fox

     /  December 9, 2014


    Dr. Martyna Fox, Contract ChairRussian Advanced Area StudiesForeign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State

    Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2014 17:10:04 +0000
    To: martynafox@msn.com

  4. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hello Professor Galeotti,
    Looks like a great new book and looking forward to reading it. Had a question and would love to hear your opinion and input if you had the time. Doing a research project on the reintegration of the Chechen opposition over the last decade or so, and a specific focus is the threat of “migrated” Chechen fighters who were not reintegrated into the new regional governments and their threat to American troops in conflict zones outside of Russia and Chechnya. Now, there has been documented evidence of Chechen fighters and generals (and bodies) in Syria, specifically leading Balkan mercenaries, so there is no argument there whatsoever in my opinion. But there are thousands of other, both seemingly legitimate but also other undocumented and less academic sources, including from one of the comments on this thread on your book above, that stress the many Chechen fighters directly threatening and fighting American and ISAF troops in specifically Afghanistan, but Pakistan as well. However, there are a number of “seemingly” credible sources that dispute and argue this and assert that this is myth more than reality. Apparently, there were documented Chechen bodies removed from Tora Bora in 2001, but quoting Prof. Brian Williams from U Mass-Dartmouth: “To date no Chechen has ever been captured, interviewed, nor has there been any evidence of one being killed in this region.64 Significantly, no Chechens were ever captured and sent to Guantanamo Bay by Coalition troops. In addition, in all my years of tracking on line martyrdom epitaphs I have never seen one of a Chechen in Afghanistan or Pakistan. While US troops I served alongside while working for NATO in Afghanistan in 2009 had stories of fighting elusive Chechens no one actually knew what one looked like. “Evidence” of Chechens being in an area was usually provided in the form of stories of skilled enemy sniping or more commonly “radio intercepts.” But the commonsensical question is how many US troops (or more improbably Afghans) speak Nokchi, the complex ancient language of the Chechen highlanders, to corroborate such claims?”
    Now his insistence on the overall Sufi nature of Chechens is troubling, because over the years many of the rebel fighters obviously evolved into radical Wahhabist’s and the appeal of Global Jihad could arguably draw them to fight in other regions. Syria makes sense because of Russia’s and Putin’s support of Assad, but what do you think of the reality of the presence of “many” Chechen fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially after 2001? (I’m also quite sure it was a fact that UBL and Khattab hated each other, and were certainly not allies in any case, but that still does not discount anything I discussed above.)
    Another short quote from The Journal of Slavic Studies (2007): “U.S. military commanders and others in the defense community are concerned that militant Chechens, trained in suicide bombing and extremist tactics, are available to support Taliban elements in Afghanistan today. In reality, the relationship between these two groups is minimal and there is little likelihood of substantive cooperation between them.”

    Sorry for the long comment but would absolutely love to hear your informed reply or opinion if you ever have the time (which you probably don’t…). In any case I would like to thank you sincerely, as I thoroughly enjoy your work.

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  December 16, 2014

      There does seem to have been a drift of Chechens into various outside radical armies (there certainly was into Afghanistan, and this helped forge the links that brought Arab fighters into Chechnya in the 90s and early 00s). However, this is something much more mythologized than materialized in practice, not least because of the substantial Syrian ethnic Chechen population, which have been very active in the recent Syrian risings and since then some have moved across to ISIS. Honestly, I suspect the larger future challenge will be Ingushetian, Dagestani, etc militants who have moved towards ISIS/etc and who may some day return. On those radio intercepts, by the way, I suspect often that was not because they were speaking Noxchi (as you say, who speaks that?) but assumptions made because the comms were in Russian, but Russian crops up surprisingly often as a lingua franca because it was taught at times in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc…

  1. El poder militar de Rusia - Esglobal - Política, economía e ideas sobre el mundo en español

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: