Cover image for The war in Chechnya
The war in Chechnya
Knezys, Stasys.
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Publication Information:
College Station, TX : Texas A&M University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 359 pages : maps ; 25 cm.
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Table of Contents
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DK511.C37 K597 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The recent war in Chechnya, despite all the media coverage, remains a confusing tangle for many people. The war was the result of many conflicting political, economic, judicial, and military issues that had been fermenting for decades. Only the most fundamental goals became clearly visible: for Moscow, the preservation of its territorial integrity; for Chechens, the struggle for national independence.

In this carefully researched and extensively documented study, Stasys Knezys and Romanas Sedlickas examine the Chechnyan war from a military viewpoint. As they evenhandedly depict the strengths and weaknesses of both the Russians and Chechens, the authors consider how and why Russia, with one of the world's largest armies, failed to subdue the Chechens, and how the Chechens fought among themselves, yet also fought off the Russian Goliath.

One reason the Chechens had the success they did was the expansion of the relationship of "politics and war" to the triangle of "politics, war, and terrorism." Knezys and Sedlickas examine this question: "Is military terrorism . . . a new tactical element, ensuring the success of a small country's resistance to a powerful army?"

The War in Chechnya does not answer all the questions raised by this war, but it presents comprehensive, objective, impartial information about the military strategy and nature and conduct of operations on both sides to allow the reader to begin to answer some of those questions. Military analysts and historians, political scientists, and Eastern European scholars will find The War in Chechnya an illuminating analysis of the military operations there and a valuable source of information for further studies.

Author Notes

Stasys Knezys served in the Soviet Union's Air Defense Forces before retiring as a colonel. When Lithuania became independent, he joined the staff of the newly formed Lithuanian Defense Ministry and served as inspector of its armed forces, then as military advisor to the president. One of his primary duties was to oversee the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Lithuania.Romanas Sedlickas, a major in the U.S. Air Force, then a criminal defense attorney in New York, resettled in Lithuania in 1991 to help with its reconstruction. He has traveled widely throughout the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation and presently divides his time between teaching and working as a legal and management consultant to various Lithuanian firms and government institutions.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Knezys and Sedlickas, both of Lithuanian descent, show deep knowledge and concern for a region much in the news with historic ethnic struggles for independence. The authors provide an excruciatingly detailed account of the Chechen's successful resistance to the latest Russian military incursion, timely reading given the struggles that continue in that part of the world. They examine historic Chechnya, its ethnic culture, and its long fight against Russian imperialism. The inclusion of coverage on the historic internal animosity between the Chechen flatlanders and mountain dwellers points up the myriad conflicts in this part of the world, which, in this scenario, contributed to outcomes in the battle against Russia. The authors also note that the war in Chechnya illustrates the continued strong desire for independence among small ethnic groups and the aimlessness of superpower interventions that make their efforts, despite technological superiority, no match for nationalistic fervor. The authors include maps of the embattled region (down to street level) and outline military strategies. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

During its two-year duration, Chechnya's war for secession became emblematic of the brutal ineptitude of the Russian military. Although apparently vastly superior in force, Moscow was compelled to negotiate a stalemated peace after reducing much of Chechnya's cities to rubble, turning much of its population into refugees, and, according to the authors, committing "countless massive atrocities." This book explains how Russia's divided and overly confident military fell victim to the strategy of ambush and "military terrorist actions." The book's strength is its analysis of the war's phases and use of internal documents translated into English for the first time. Much of the material duplicates Carlotta Gall and Thomas deWaal's Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus (LJ 2/1/98) and Anatol Lieven's Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power (LJ 4/1/98), which is superior in explaining the war's larger domestic political context. Knezys and Sedlickas excel in recounting battlefield tactics. For larger academic libraries.ÄZachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The War in Chechnya is a useful analysis of that conflict by two former officers from the US and Soviet armies respectively. It presents the most detailed military history of the 1994-96 conflict yet available and should be in every college library--especially given the second Russian invasion of Chechnya that began in September 1999. The authors are sympathetic to the Chechen cause, but their writing is factual and objective. The analysis focuses on battles and tactics, in contrast to other books on the war, which tend to examine political decision-making in Moscow and Grozny and international reactions to the conflict. Examples of the latter include Carlotta Gall's Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus ( 1998) and Anatol Lieven's Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power (CH, Jul'99). The volume under review does not contain much political analysis. Chapter 18 profiles the late President Dudaev; profiles of other leaders would have helped to explain the motives and objectives of the Chechens. Factional disputes among Chechen leaders are not discussed or explained. The book draws on Russian and Lithuanian press sources and contains several dozen maps, including useful plans of the street fighting. One deficiency is a curious transliteration system that introduces "j" into Russian names instead of the customary "y" or "i." P. Rutland Wesleyan University