Military history of the Russian Federation
The military history of the Russian Federation begins in 1992. After signing the Belavezha Accords on December 21, 1991, the new CIS countries signed a protocol on the temporary appointment of Marshal of Aviation Yevgeny Shaposhnikov as Minister of Defence and commander of the armed forces in their territory, including strategic nuclear forces. On February 14, 1992, he formally became Supreme Commander of the CIS Armed Forces. Over time, the units stationed in the newly independent republics swore loyalty to their new national governments, while a series of treaties between the newly independent states divided up the military's assets. By March of that year it was clear that the Commonwealth of Independent States was leading nowhere. From a military standpoint, the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, and the Russian High Command recognized that it was time to create Russia's own forces.
On March 16, 1992 a decree by Boris Yeltsin created The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the operational control of Allied High Command and the Ministry of Defense, which was headed by President. On March 16 Yeltsin signed presidential decree "On the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation". This decree led to the establishment of a State Commission under the leadership of Colonel general Dmitry Volkogonov that was tasked with preparing the ground for the creation of a Russian Army. On May 7, Yeltsin formally signed the orders that officially created the Russian Armed Forces. Two weeks later Pavel Grachev was appointed to the first Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation.
During the 1993 constitutional crisis
As Russia became an independent state, a growing conflict took place between President Yeltsin and the parliament, and the Armed Forces were in a position to determine the outcome of the standoff. Grachev, who was aware of the possibility of a clash between parliament and Yeltsin, called his deputies together on September 20, one day before Yeltsin suspended parliament, and warned them of the impending crisis and to be ready to do whatever was necessary. In an effort to ensure the support of the Armed Forces, Yeltsin issued a statement that was published in the main organ of the Defense Ministry, Krasnaya Zvezda: "Dear soldiers of the Russian Armed Forces! my sons! I appeal to you at a critical moment for Russian statehood and our Fatherland." He called on them to remain united and to avoid being dragged into a political battle by parliament. He ended by noting "Remember that the prevention of national collapse and civil war, and the prospects for the revival of a great Russia depend on your firm, responsible position."
First Chechen War
On 11 December 1994, Russian forces launched a three-pronged ground attack towards Grozny. The main attack was temporarily halted by deputy commander of the Russian Ground Forces, Gen. Eduard Vorobyov, who then resigned in protest, stating that it is "a crime" to "send the army against its own people." Many in the Russian military and government opposed the war as well. Yeltsin's adviser on nationality affairs, Emil Pain, and Russia's Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Boris Gromov (esteemed commander of the Soviet-Afghan War), also resigned in protest of the invasion ("It will be a bloodbath, another Afghanistan", Gromov said on television), as did Gen. Borys Poliakov. More than 800 professional soldiers and officers refused to take part in the operation; of these, 83 were convicted by military courts and the rest were discharged. Later Gen. Lev Rokhlin also refused to be decorated as a Hero of Russia for his part in the war.
The Chechen Air Force (as well as the republic's civilian aircraft fleet) was completely destroyed in the air strikes that occurred on the very first few hours of the war, while around 500 people took advantage of the mid-December amnesty declared by Yeltsin for members of Dzhokhar Dudayev's armed groups. Nevertheless, Boris Yeltsin's cabinet's expectations of a quick surgical strike, quickly followed by Chechen capitulation and regime change, were misguided. Russia found itself in a quagmire almost instantly. The morale of the Russian troops, poorly prepared and not understanding why and even where they were being sent, was low from the beginning. Some Russian units resisted the order to advance, and in some cases, the troops sabotaged their own equipment. In Ingushetia, civilian protesters stopped the western column and set 30 military vehicles on fire, while about 70 conscripts deserted their units. Advance of the northern column was halted by the unexpected Chechen resistance at Dolinskoye and the Russian forces suffered their first serious losses. Deeper in Chechnya, a group of 50 Russian paratroopers surrendered to the local Chechen militia after being deployed by helicopters behind enemy lines and then abandoned.
- For an account of this period, see Odom, William E. (1998). The Collapse of the Soviet Military. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07469-7.
- Speech of the President of Russia- Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Krasnaya Zvezda (September 24, 1993)
- Gall, Carlotta; Thomas de Waal (1998). Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-2963-0. : pp. 177-181.