Just as consequentially, the First Chechen War was perceived as a rock-bottom humiliation of the newly democratic Russia. Yeltsin’s government had not only turned to heavy-handed use of force—alienating international opinion in the process—but then proven incapable of prevailing by it.
The resulting sense of national humiliation and weakness, and the manifest corruption and incompetence of the Yeltsin administration discredited democratization in the eyes of many Russians and laid the groundwork for a KGB officer named Vladimir Putin to ascend to the presidency in 1999, it was very much on a platform of avenging the humiliation of the First Chechen War with an even blooder Second one.
Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This article first appeared in 2019 and is being republished due to reader interest.