For over 200 years there have been intermittent hostilities between Chechens and Russians in the Caucasus region. Extreme brutality has characterized these hostilities. The conflict in the region is considered by some to be the largest in Europe since World War II. The war in Chechnya divided Russian public opinion, brought devastation to Chechnya, and to the Chechens, and outraged Muslims around the world who see the war as another example of how the West victimizes Muslim populations.
Chechnya is 85% Muslim, while the majority of Russians are Orthodox Christians or have no religious affiliation at all. The West, for its part, has been alarmed at the presence of terrorists sympathetic to radical Islam and to Al Qaeda in Chechnya and in the surrounding area. The collapse of the Soviet State in 1991 was followed by Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev's declaration of the Chechen Republic's independence from Moscow.
Concerned over the loss of its territorial integrity, Russian troops invaded the breakaway republic and a civil war ensued. In l996, Chechen rebels regained control of the capital, Grozny, from Russian forces, almost destroying the city in the process. After the Second Chechen war and the re-capture of Grozny in February 2000, the Ichkerian regmine fell apart.