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Insurgency in the North Caucasus

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Title: Insurgency in the North Caucasus  
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Subject: War in Ingushetia, First Chechen War, War of Dagestan, August 2012, Caucasus Emirate
Collection: 2009 in Russia, 2010 in Russia, 2011 in Russia, 2012 in Russia, 2013 in Russia, 2014 in Russia, 2015 in Russia, Caucasus Emirate, Conflicts in 2009, Conflicts in 2010, Conflicts in 2011, Conflicts in 2012, Conflicts in 2013, Conflicts in 2014, Conflicts in 2015, History of Chechnya, History of Dagestan, History of Ingushetia, History of the Caucasus, Insurgency in the North Caucasus, Military History of Russia, North Caucasus, Ongoing Conflicts, Ongoing Insurgencies, Post-Soviet Conflicts, Second Chechen War, Terrorism in Russia
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Insurgency in the North Caucasus

Insurgency in the North Caucasus

Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev, meets with FSB head, Alexander Bortnikov, in March 2009, to discuss the ending of the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya.
Date 16 April 2009 – present
(5 years, 9 months and 3 weeks)
Location Russia
Result Ongoing
 Russia Caucasus Emirate
Commanders and leaders
Vladimir Putin
Dmitry Medvedev
Anatoliy Serdyukov
Vladimir Boldyrev
Rashid Nurgaliyev
Alexander Bortnikov
Alexander Khloponin
Ramzan Kadyrov
Ramazan Abdulatipov
Yunus-bek Yevkurov
Yury Kokov
Rashid Temrezov
Taymuraz Mamsurov
Ali Abu Mukhammad
Dokka Umarov 
Aslambek Vadalov
Aslan Byutukayev
Khuseyn Gakayev 
Tarkhan Gaziyev
Supyan Abdullayev 
Abdulla Kurd 
Umalat Magomedov 
Magomed Vagabov 
Israpil Velijanov 
Ibragimkhalil Daudov 
Rustam Asildarov
Ali Taziev (POW)
Said Buryatsky 
Dzhamaleyl Mutaliyev 
Arthur Getagazhev 

Anzor Astemirov 
Asker Dzhappuyev 
Alim Zankishiev 
Undisclosed ~600 fighters
(government claim,
January 2013)[1]
~40 operating groups in the North Caucasus:[1]
10 groups
16 groups
3 groups
5 groups
1 group
Casualties and losses
961–978 security forces killed (2009–2013)[2] and 2,020–2,384 wounded (2009–2012)[3] 1,812 killed (2009–2014) and 1,626 captured (2009–2013)[4]
434 civilians killed (2010–2012)[5]

The Insurgency in the North Caucasus continues despite the official end of the decade-long Second Chechen War on 16 April 2009.[6]

The violence has mostly been concentrated in the North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia and North Ossetia–Alania. Occasional incidents happen in surrounding regions, like at last Pyatigorsk and Volgograd. However, the Security Council of Russia secretary, Nikolai Patrushev, mentioned that the situation in Dagestan is the worst in all North Caucasus republics.[7] The extremism rate in Dagestan is now higher than in war-torn Chechnya.[8]

The Russian Interior Ministry stated that 399 terrorist crimes were committed in the North Caucasus in 2013. Of there, 242 were committed in Dagestan.[9]


  • Backgrounds 1
    • Chechnya 1.1
    • Dagestan 1.2
    • Ingushetia 1.3
    • Kabardino-Balkaria 1.4
    • North Ossetia–Alania 1.5
  • List of clashes in the North Caucasus 2
  • Casualties 3
  • Terrorist incidents 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Map of the North Caucasus

In late 1999, Russia's Premier, Vladimir Putin, ordered military, police and security forces to enter the breakaway region of Chechnya. By early 2000, these forces occupied most of the region. High levels of fighting continued for several more years and resulted in thousands of Russian and Chechen casualties and hundreds of thousands of displaced persons. In 2005, Chechen rebel leader, Abdul-Halim Sadulayev, decreed the formation of a Caucasus Front against Russia, among Islamic believers in the North Caucasus, in an attempt to widen Chechnya's conflict with Russia. After his death, his successor, Dokka Umarov, declared continuing jihad to establish an Islamic fundamentalist Caucasus Emirate in the North Caucasus and beyond. Russia's pacification policy in Chechnya has involved, setting up a pro-Moscow regional government and transferring more local security duties to this government.

An important factor in Russia's apparent success in Chechnya has been reliance on pro-Moscow Chechen clans affiliated with regional President Ramzan Kadyrov. Police and paramilitary forces under Kadyrov's authority have committed abuses of human rights, according to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and others. Terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus appeared to increase substantially in 2007–2010. In the summer of 2009, more than 442 persons died in North Caucasus violence in just four months as compared to only 150 deaths reported in the entire year of 2008.[10] In the whole year 2009, according to the official figures by the Russian government, 235 Interior Ministry personnel (Defense Ministry and the FSB losses not included) were killed and 686 injured,[11] while more than 541 alleged fighters and their supporters were killed and over 600 detained.[12] In the period from January to June 2011, 95 law enforcement and security agents had been killed and more than 200 wounded fighting militants.[13] Although the rate of increase of terrorist incidents may have lessened in 2010 from the high rate of increase in 2008–2009, the rate of civilian casualties substantially increased throughout the North Caucasus in 2010 and a rising number of terrorist incidents took place outside of Chechnya.[14]


The insurgency in the North Caucasus is a direct result of the two post-Soviet wars fought between Russia and Chechnya. The First Chechen War was a nationalist struggle, with both secular and Islamist overtones, for independence from Russia and took place between 1994–1996. After a vicious struggle between Russian federal forces and Chechen separatist guerrillas, Chechnya was granted de facto independence per the terms of the Khasavyurt Accord, signed on 30 August 1996. With a devastated infrastructure and various armed factions, subordinate to specific warlords, the next three years saw Chechnya devolve into a corrupted and criminal state, plagued by armed gangs, an epidemic of kidnappings-for-ransom and the rise of radical Islam in the region as a response to suppression.

In August 1999, an armed incursion of 1,500 Islamic radicals, led by Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev, and Arab jihadist, Ibn al-Khattab, in support of a Dagestani separatist movement, combined with a series of apartment bombings in Russia, gave Moscow sufficient reasoning for re-invading Chechnya, thus triggering the Second Chechen War, a conflict fought with significant jihadist overtones.

Having learned harsh lessons from the first war, the Russian military, rather than get entangled in messy urban engagements such as that seen in Grozny in 1994–95, relied heavily on aerial bombardment and artillery such as ballistic missiles and fuel air explosives, typically surrounding and then destroying any towns or villages that put up resistance before sending in ground forces for mop-up operations. The second Battle of Grozny in 1999–2000 saw the bulk of Chechen resistance smashed, particularly after a column of some 2,000 fighters attempted to break out of the besieged city in February 2000 and instead walked directly into a minefield that Russian forces had prepared for an ambush. What remained of the decimated rebel units then withdrew into the inaccessible Vedeno and Argun gorges in the southern mountains of the republic in order to wage a guerrilla campaign.

Despite the official claims of peace in the supposedly pacified Chechnya, the republic remains a major center of violence even according to the government statistics. According to the official Russian figures, in the course of one-year period between April 2009 (when the anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya was officially ended) and April 2010, 97 servicemen have been killed on the territory of Chechnya; at the same time, government forces there have killed 189 persons claimed to be militants or their collaborators.[15]


Dagestan is the most religious, populous and complex of all the north Caucasian republics.[16] It is double the size of Chechnya and consists of several dozen ethnic groups, most with their own language.[16] The conflict in Dagestan, however, is not between ethnic groups but between Sufism, a syncretic form of Islam which includes local customs and recognises the state, and Salafism, a more traditional form which rejects secular rule and insists that the Salafist interpretation of Islam should govern all spheres of life.[16]


Along with Dagestan, Ingushetia has borne the brunt of the violence in the North Caucasus in recent years. The Islamist insurgency in the republic sprang from the wars in neighbouring Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s.

In June 2004, Ingush and Chechen fighters launched a large-scale attack on Ingushetia's biggest town, Nazran, killing scores of civilians, policemen and soldiers.

As elsewhere in the North Caucasus, the brutality of state security forces has been a major factor, driving young men to join the Islamists. Under the presidency of the former KGB officer, Murat Zyazikov, teams of masked operatives kidnapped, tortured and killed suspected rebels and members of their families. Zyazikov's successor, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, appointed in 2008, has had some success in dampening the violence, although he was seriously injured in a suicide bombing by the militants during his first year in office. Human rights violations by Russian commandos have decreased, but remain widespread.[17]

The capture in June 2010 of Ali Taziev, an ethnic Ingush and one of the top leaders of the Caucasus Emirate, dealt a blow to the jihadists in Ingushetia.


The insurgency in Kabardino-Balkaria began in the early 2000s and was led by the Yarmuk Jamaat, a militant Islamist jamaat which flourished as a result of persecution of pious Muslims by police and security forces.

In October 2005, several score of the militants launched a raid on the capital of the republic, Nalchik, which left 142 people dead. The guerrillas have also carried out numerous assassinations of government officials and law enforcement officers.

The republic saw a flare-up of violence in late 2010 and early 2011, in the wake of the death of Anzor Astemirov, a senior figure in the Caucasus Emirate and the head of its United Vilayat of Kabarda-Balkaria-Karachai. The new leaders of Kabardino-Balkaria's guerrilla movement, Asker Dzhappuyev and Ratmir Shameyev, preferred a more aggressive approach and the militants murdered several civilians in the republic, including Russian tourists. In response, a shadowy vigilante group called the Black Hawks threatened the relatives of some of the Islamists.[18]

Dzhappuyev and Shameyev were killed in a special operation by security forces in April 2011.[19]

North Ossetia–Alania

On September 9, 2010, a car-bomb attack occurred at a crowded marketplace in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, killing 19 adults and children and injuring over 190. President Medvedev responded, that "we will certainly do everything to catch these monsters, who have committed a terrorist attack against ordinary people. What's more, a barbarous terrorist attack. We will do everything, so that they are found and punished in accordance with the law of our country, or in the case of resistance or other cases, so that they are eliminated."

Vilayat Galgaycho reportedly took responsibility, stating, that the attack was aimed against "Ossetian infidels" on "occupied Ingush lands".[20]

List of clashes in the North Caucasus


Year Killed Wounded
2010 754[21] 956[21]
2011 750[22] 628[22]
2012 700[23] 525[23]
2013 529[24] 457[24]
2014 280 unknown
Total 3.013 2.566

Terrorist incidents

See also


  1. ^ a b Russlands Innenministerium: 600 militante Extremisten im Nordkaukasus aktiv, RIA Novosti, 25 January 2013
  2. ^ 235 killed (2009),[1] 225 killed (2010),[2] 190–2 killed (2011),[3][4] 211 killed (2012),[5] 100 killed (2013),[6] total of 961–978 reported killed
  3. ^ 686 wounded (2009),[7] 467 wounded (2010),[8] 462–826 wounded (2011),[9][10] 405 wounded (2012),[11] total of 2,020–2,384 reported wounded
  4. ^ 270 killed and 453 captured (2009),[12] 349 killed and 254 captured (2010),[13] 384 killed and 370 captured (2011),[14] 391 killed and 461 captured (2012),[15] 260 killed[16] and 88 captured[17] (2013), 158 killed (2014)[18]
  5. ^ 356 killed (2010-2011),[19] 78 killed (2012),[20] total of 434 reported killed
  6. ^ Russia 'ends Chechnya operation', BBC News, 16 April 2009
  7. ^ Russischer Sicherheitsrat: Terrorismus im Nordkaukasus erstmals rückläufig, RIA Novosti, 29 May 2013
  8. ^ Kaukasus: Extremismusrate in Dagestan verdreifacht, RIA Novosti, 15 February 2013
  9. ^ Extremismus im Nordkaukasus nimmt spürbar zu, RIA Novosti, 28 November 2013
  10. ^ Moscow and Grozny Evince Growing Nervousness Over Regional Security, The Jamestown Foundation, 9 November 2009. Retrieved on 21 August 2010.
  11. ^ North Caucasus saw over 230 Interior Ministry deaths in 2009, RIA Novosti, 16 January 2010. Retrieved on 21 August 2010.
  12. ^ Кавказский Узел|Нургалиев: с начала года на Северном Кавказе нейтрализовано более 700 боевиков. Retrieved on 21 August 2010. (Russian)
  13. ^ "Russia says militant attack foiled in Moscow". Reuters. 18 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Gordon Hahn, "Trends in Jihadist Violence in Russia During 2010 in Statistics", Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report, Monterey Institute for International Studies, January 26, 2011
  15. ^ Chechen Fighters Hold their Ground Against Kadyrov, The Jamestown Foundation, 28 May 2010
  16. ^ a b c "From Moscow to Mecca: As this part of Russia's empire frays, fundamentalist Islam takes a stronger hold". The Economist (The Economist Newspaper Limited) 399 (8728): 24–26. 9–15 April 2011. 
  17. ^ A Fear of Three Letters, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, 8 March 2011
  18. ^ Blood Relations, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, 21 February 2011
  19. ^ Clashes in Russia's Caucasus Kill 10 Rebels, Reuters, 29 April 2011
  20. ^ CEDR, September 9, 2010, Doc. No. CEP-950171
  21. ^ a b "Инфографика. Статистика жертв на Северном Кавказе за 2010 год по данным "Кавказского узла".". Caucasian Knot. 2013-12-23. Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  22. ^ a b "Инфографика. Статистика жертв на Северном Кавказе за 2011 год по данным "Кавказского узла".". Caucasian Knot. 2013-12-23. Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  23. ^ a b "Инфографика. Статистика жертв на Северном Кавказе за 2012 год.". Caucasian Knot. 2013-06-06. Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  24. ^ a b """Инфографика. Статистика жертв на Северном Кавказе в ноябре 2013 года по данным "Кавказского узла. Caucasian Knot. 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2014-02-04. 

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