Circling the Lion's Den

Special operations forces

In Counterterrorism

By September 2004 the FSB, the Interior Ministry and military intelligence the GRU were all carrying out special operations in the Chechen republic.

Military Intelligence would conduct these operations with two Spetsnaz special-forces battalions, termed East and West, comprised of ethnic Chechens. The primary role of both brigades was the elimination of suspected insurgents, and their work was highly respected by Moscow. In August 2004 Sergey Ivanov, Russian Defense Minister, met with the Spetsnaz commanders to reassure them they had his support and to supply them with more advanced arms.

The FSB has two different structures engaged in this arena. First, the Summary Special Groups (SSG), which consists of operatives with regional FSB divisions and soldiers from the Interior Ministry’s Spetsnaz troops. Ten such groups were created in April 2002 to carry out special duties in the Chechen Republic. They are engaged in eliminating insurgents and operate independently from local FSB units. The FSB has also deployed elements of its Special Purpose Center units, who report to the FSB divisional command in Chechnya.

In addition, the Interior Ministry deploys liquidation groups from other Russian regions to gain combat experience. These so-called mobile groups operate in the Chechen Republic, but also in Dagestan and Ingushetia. In May 2004, President Putin ordered the creation of a special unit under the Chechen President. Known as the "Kadyrov guards" because they comprised former bodyguards of the former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, they were assigned to the Chechen Ministry of Internal Affairs, and their role is similar to that of the SSG. Thus Ramzan Kadyrov continues to supervise the activity of the regiment.

These practices were to expand in the mid-2000s into other regions of the North Caucasus.