Monday, 21 November 2022

Russia’s Wars: Listing Equipment Losses During The First Chechen War (1994-1996)

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
For a list of Russian equipment losses during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War click here.
The First Chechen War was fought between Russia and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from December 1994 to August 1996, ultimately leading to a peace treaty and de-facto independence for Chechnya in 1997. Russia's invasion and the two-year long conflict that ensued was preceded by a covert intervention carried out in support of a coup attempt by pro-Russian Chechen factions and Russian intelligence agencies in November 1994, which unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the regime of President Dzhokhar Dudayev. After successfully repelling a Russian armoured assault on the capital Grozny, Dudayev threatened the execution of dozens of Russian Army prisoners to force Russia to admit its involvement in the coup. By now more than fed up with the lawlessness that marked Chechnya during that period, and realising that its covert attempts at regime change in Chechnya had failed, Russia began to draw plans for an invasion of Chechnya, ultimately invading the unrecognised post-Soviet state on the 11th of December.
Similar to its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Russia's invasion of Chechnya was marked by an overestimation of its own capabilities while severely underestimating the Chechens' resolve in defending their territory. Highly unpopular even with the command of the Russian Armed Forces, the Russian Ministry of Defence planned the invasion without consulting the General Staff or the North Caucasus Military District, which was to carry out the invasion. [1] Similar to Russia's expectations of taking Ukraine's capital Kyiv in a matter of days, the Russian Minister of Defence Pavel Grachev boasted he could topple Dudayev's regime in a couple of hours using just a single airborne regiment, further stating the invasion would be "a bloodless blitzkrieg'' not lasting longer than a week. [2] The war eventually lasted for two years, ending in a defeat for Russia and the sacking of Defence Minister Pavel Grachev. [2] Though generally thought of as the worst military defeat in Russia's modern history, the losses suffered by the Russian Army during the First Chechen War pale in comparison to those suffered during the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War. [3]
After the initial conventional phase of the conflict ended in 1995, culminating in the infamous Battle of Grozny in which the Russian Army lost dozens of T-72 and T-80 tanks, the Russian Army attempted to seize control of the mountainous area of Chechnya, where Chechen fighters had established a network of hideouts. Russian forces, many of which conscripts, suddenly found themselves engaged in guerilla warfare they were neither trained nor equipped for. After a peace agreement that came into effect in early August 1995 failed to stop the fighting, hostilities continued until a final ceasefire agreement was signed in August 1996 between Russia and the head of the Chechen interim government of Aslan Maskhadov (President Dzhokhar Dudayev had been killed by Russia in April), which also included the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. That same month, Chechen forces recaptured the capital Grozny.
Though most will associate with the Chechen Wars a mountainous guerrilla insurgency using ambushes and roadside IEDs, Chechen forces could initially count on a conventional military equipped with T-72 MBTs, 2S3 SPGs, BM-21 Grad MRLs, 9K92 Luna-M artillery rockets, 9K31 Strela-1 and S-75 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and even Mi-8 helicopters and L-29 and L-39 light strike aircraft taken over from Soviet Army units stationed on its territory. Most of these assets took part in a parade in the capital Grozny in February 1992, but due to a lack of qualified personnel systems like the Luna-M, S-75 and L-29/L-39s were either barely operationally deployed or never deployed at all. [4] The majority of this equipment was lost during the war, and by the time the Second Chechen War broke out in 1999, the conflict truly devolved into a guerilla war.

A detailed list of the destroyed and captured vehicles of both sides can be seen below. This list only includes destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here. Inoperational equipment (including aircraft), mortars and trucks are not included in this list. Stripped equipment encountered in any of Russia's huge vehicle dumpyards is only included when it is damaged or cannibalised beyond economical repair. The dates given do not always indicate the precise date on when the equipment was lost and should instead be considered an approximation. The Soviet flag is used when the equipment in question was produced prior to 1991.
For a list of Russian equipment losses during the Second Chechen War click here. For a list of Russian equipment losses during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War click here. And for a list of Russian equipment losses during the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine click here.
(Click on the numbers to get a picture of each individual captured or destroyed vehicle)


Russia (767, of which destroyed: 706, damaged: 24, captured: 38)

Tanks (192, of which destroyed: 167, damaged: 3, captured: 22)

Armoured Fighting Vehicles (48, of which destroyed: 42, damaged: 2, captured: 4)


Infantry Fighting Vehicles (302, of which destroyed: 291, damaged: 4, captured: 7)


Armoured Personnel Carriers (153, of which destroyed: 144, damaged: 8, captured: 1)


Command Posts And Communications Stations (4, of which destroyed: 3, captured: 1)


Engineering Vehicles And Equipment (4, of which destroyed: 3, damaged: 1)


Artillery Support Vehicles (5, of which destroyed: 4, captured: 1)


Self-Propelled Artillery (23, of which destroyed: 20, damaged: 2, captured: 1)


Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns (5, of which destroyed: 3, damaged: 2)


Aircraft (6, of which destroyed: 6)


Armoured Trucks (1, of which destroyed: 1)

Chechnya (41, of which destroyed: 33, captured: 8)

Tanks (26, of which destroyed: 21, captured: 5)

Armoured Fighting Vehicles (5, of which destroyed: 3, captured: 2)


Infantry Fighting Vehicles (1, of which captured: 1)


Armoured Personnel Carriers (7, of which destroyed: 5, captured: 2)


Command Posts And Communications Stations (3, of which destroyed: 1, damaged: 1, captured: 1)


Towed Artillery (1, of which destroyed: 1)


Self-Propelled Artillery (2, of which captured: 2)


Multiple Rocket Launchers (1, of which captured: 1)


Artillery Rockets (1, of which captured: 1)


Self-Propelled Artillery Anti-Aircraft Guns (1, of which destroyed: 1)


Radars (1, of which destroyed: 1)


Aircraft (4, of which destroyed: 3, captured: 1)

  • Dozens of L-29s lost. Few if any aircraft operationally used and thus not included in the count.
  • Dozens of L-39s lost. Few if any aircraft operationally used and thus not included in the count.
  • 4 Tu-134 passenger/VIP aircraft: (1, destroyed) (2 and 3, destroyed) (1, captured) (Flown by the national airline STIGL)

Helicopters (4, of which destroyed: 4)

Special thanks to Lost Armour.
[1] Anatol Lieven: Chechnya. Tombstone of Russian Power. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1999.
[3] Attack On Europe: Documenting Russian Equipment Losses During The 2022 Russian Invasion Of Ukraine   
[4] Парад в Грозном / Чечня / Ичкерия

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