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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 16:16 GMT
How the rebels keep fighting
chechen rebels
Chechen fighters still strong against Russia
By Russian affairs analyst Stephen Mulvey

Russian commanders say the military operation in Chechnya has reached "the final phase".

But the war is still dragging on, as the rebels put up fierce resistance in the gorges in the mountainous southern part of Chechnya.

Fighting is also reported to be continuing for the village of Komsomolskoye south of Grozny, where Chechen fighters have put up stiff resistance for two weeks.

One of the strengths of the Chechen method of warfare is that it is low-cost, and therefore easy to sustain. The guerrillas move around in cars or on foot, and rely mainly on hand-held weapons such as automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and neighbouring countries have been awash with arms and munitions bought or occasionally seized from Russian military bases.
a rebel
The area has been awash with weapons
Sometimes bases would report a raid in order to cover up black market sales.

When the Russian army decided to abandon bases in Chechnya in 1992, 42 tanks and 29,000 machine guns were left behind according to official figures.

Experts claim the real figure was lower as large parts of the arsenal had been bought and exported by Chechen arms traders.

Kalashnikov rifles were on sale for a few hundred dollars at Grozny's central market long before conflict broke out in 1994.

Most weapons are taken from Russian forces

Khattab Warlord
There were also numerous cases in that war when Russian soldiers sold weapons directly to their enemies.

In the latest conflict it's reported that members of one tank battalion sold the explosive from their tanks' reactive armour.

Arms have also entered Chechnya from Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Caravan trails over the mountains were established during the first war to bring in weapons.

During the current conflict, the Georgian Government released a videotape of what it said was a truck leaving a Russian military base with $90,000 of weapons destined for Chechnya.

Russia denounced it as a fake.

A certain amount of foreign weaponry may also be taking the route over the Caucasus mountains.

A London-based expert on Dagestan, Anna Matveeva, says Stinger missiles have been imported from Afghanistan.

Chechens get money from counterfeiting ,drugs and hostage taking

Charles Blandy UK's Military academy Sandhurst

The multi-million-dollar ransoms paid for some hostages helped create private armies that were more than a match for the official Chechen security forces - before they buried their differences and joined forces against the Russians.

There have also been reports of an illegal oil trade conducted through Chechnya on a scale that would far overshadow any proceeds from the 120,000 tonnes of oil allegedly siphoned from a Russian pipeline crossing Chechnya in 1998.

Trained in Pakistan

russian troops
Troops search for rebels
It's been estimated that radical Islamic groups, some of which have declared a jihad or holy war against Russia, may have brought the Chechen rebels tens of millions of dollars.

London-based Sheikh Omar Bakri-Mohammed says his supporters in Britain are not alone in having sent money and hundreds of volunteers to Chechnya.

The recruits join the military wing of the International Islamic Front, headed by the notorious Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden, and are trained in Pakistan - where the leading Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev, himself underwent training about 10 years ago.

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See also:

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