There are strong signs that Chechen guerrillas have made the shift to become global guerrillas. Commanders such as Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev have expressed their intent to conduct acts of sabotage against Russian targets and guerrilla entrepreneurs such as the Dagestani, Rabbani Khalilov, have acted on this direction. The Chechen campaign against Russian infrastructure systems is off to a fast start. This year's assaults include:
- February 18. Moscow. 2 gas pipelines were blown up with IEDs made from rocket propelled grenades.
- March 15. A power transmission line was severed. A Chechen flag was found at the blast site.
- April 5. Dagestan (southern Russia). The Russian gas export pipeline to Azerbaijan was interdicted for several days. Additionally, the Baku-Novorossiisk oil pipeline was damaged due to collocation vulnerability with the gas pipeline.
- April 24. Volgograd. The Samara-Lisichansk long-distance pipeline was blown up.
- May 24. Dagestan. The Mazdok-Gazimagomed gas pipeline was damaged.
- June 5. Stavropol. The Baku-Novorossiisk oil pipeline reservoir was bombed.
- July 5. Chechnya. The Mazdok-Gasimagomed pipeline was damaged again.
- November 28. Moscow. A circular gas pipeline was severed.
- December 8. Dagestan. The Russian gas export pipeline to Azerbaijan was blown up.
Russia at Risk
An ongoing Chechen global guerrilla campaign against Russian infrastructure will worsen as methods improve. The infrastructure's long distances, numerous choke points, lack of redundancies, and corrupt security combine to make it extremely vulnerable. As a result of this growing assault, the following will likely occur:
- Russia's precarious financial and political situation will deteriorate. Its government is already rapidly consolidating power. This will damage its decision making capability by isolating it (Boyd). Financially, it is possible given the demonstration we see in Iraq, that Chechen guerrillas will be able to sustain a 20-40% (depending on the sophistication of the analysis) reduction in the transportation of oil, gas, and electricity in Russia. Financially, this could easily reach $100 billion a year (8% of GDP) and plunge the nation into a prolonged recession.
- More turmoil in global energy markets. Russia is the world's second largest oil producer. A reduction of 2-3 million barrels a day in deliveries from Russia would equal the price shock of the loss of Iraq's production. Additionally, turmoil would reduce investment in the development of Russia's huge natural gas reserves -- which are critical for the emergence of a liquid natural gas (LNG) export market.
- A second demonstration of the power of global guerrilla methods. The financial devastation of Russia will inevitably force the country to grant Chechnya the political independence it desires. If the leadership doesn't do this quickly enough (due to hubris), there is the potential that the entire country will fragment into ethno-religious-criminal mayhem on a scale we haven't seen before. Regardless, independence is likely inevitable. This will be the second major victory for global guerrillas (after Iraq) and will accelerate the adoption of these methods globally.
Note: Thanks to Jamestown for providing data that made this brief possible.