For this chapter, I had to read a lot about Russian (and Jihadist) war crimes in Chechnya, plus other war crimes committed by the Red Army historically. Consequently, this is the hardest thing I've ever written.
“The Death of Russia”
Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’ by Frank Wolfowitz
International states can influence others by two things: soft power and hard power. Makashov expended his soft power almost immediately into his reign by playing into every stereotype of the monstrous Tsar bent on subjugating Europe. He then lost his hard power when he sent his troops to Chechnya and got them decimated. Outside the country, the diplomatic damage was already severe. Finland and Sweden had put off NATO membership requests due to fear of a preemptive Russian attack before finalisation due to Makashov’s rise convincing them that Moscow had gone insane. Now, seeing how mangy the bear really was in Chechnya, they wasted no time in making their applications. Finland and Sweden would both be official NATO members by February 1995 alongside Bulgaria and Romania, though it was hardly a secret that the latter two were let in purely due to geopolitical realities than of being anywhere near the quality nominally required to join. Japan had likewise intensified cooperation with NATO in light of the newfound menace from Russia and would discreetly mention the Kuril Island dispute any chance they could get. China had initially been quite supportive of Russia’s new government, but soon found the benefits of cooperating against Russia as a tool to come out of international isolation to be of an overwhelmingly higher nature. Though supporting Russia officially in Chechnya, as it was the same argument they used for Taiwan, they would provide a desperate Makashov with nowhere near the supplies required to feed and strengthen his army, despite the overwhelmingly isolated country offering eye-watering discounts due to the business risk of working with such a country.
Elsewhere, Lech Wałęsa enjoyed his new sky-rocketing national and international approval rating by rallying Europe against Moscow and becoming something of a representative for the liberated Eastern Bloc. His invocation of Russia’s Pre-Communist, Communist and Post-Communist imperialism as one continuing expression of evil did more than Makashov ever could to undermine the legitimacy of the Gaidar Administration, which was increasingly being seen as untrustworthy given its guarded statements on Chechnya (with some officials actually praising the NSF’s invasion). On June 10th 1994, Estonia would become the first country on Earth (after the brief recognition by the former Georgian President that was revoked by his successor) to recognise Ichkeria as an independent state. This was understandable considering the economic devastation of the Russian embargo on Estonia, with thousands freezing to death in the Winter of 1994, and the fact that Dudayev had resided in Estonia during his time in the Red Army and had sided with Estonian nationalists while using them as an inspiration for his own nationalism. Estonia, in gratitude and spite, began the Eastern European domino. The next day, Poland would become the second, with Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Hungary all in agreement by the end of the month. The Western European nations, despite ‘Free Chechnya’ campaigns appearing up and down Europe, were reluctant to embarrass Gaidar and so refrained from doing so, but the Eastern European nations had no love lost when it came to Russia and didn’t see Gaidar as anything but a slightly lesser variation of Russian imperialism.
Meanwhile it seemed like the rest of the world was sorting itself out. Bosnia had resolved their conflict and began to rebuild, Nelson Mandela became the first black South African President, the IRA declared a ceasefire in Northern Ireland, Israel negotiated a lasting peace with Jordan, and many other pieces of good news were coming from around the world. This made the contrast with what was happening in Chechnya seem even more barbaric by comparison. But in other regions there was indeed turmoil. In Cuba and North Korea, both countries were going through significant economic challenges that had been substantially worsened by the international dislocation of Russia. For now they would endure, but the incoming Civil War would touch the population in ways that neither they nor their enemies expected.
Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges
For obvious reasons, getting journalists into Chechnya was an immensely dangerous task, but those that did could report on horrors that few could conceive. The Communist Bloc’s talk of brotherhood was an obvious sham even to its supporters and the Fascist Bloc had never disguised their contempt for the Chechens. As pictures began to leak out of Islamist fighters standing proudly on mounds of decapitated corpses of Russian soldiers with the commander’s head in their hand, humiliation and rage filled Russian troops. It unleashed something akin to the level of evil that goes beyond all reason, that good people literally can’t even conceive because its nature is so alien to them. It was like the spirit of Dirlewanger had arisen from Hell to poison the air of Ichkeria to want to hurt and kill everything they could put their claws on. A Hearts of Darkness, except not in the Congo but the fringes of Europe. But here, Dirlewanger would not be reincarnated in one man or brigade, but seemingly all across the PTSD, alcohol, and heroin ridden shells of those who somehow were still alive in the Russian army
Houses and other shelters clearly marked with ‘Children’ or ‘Hospital’ would inevitably be the most shot up and shelled. In early July the village of Samashki was burned to the ground with flamethrowers and grenades from drunken and drugged Russian soldiers with the residents inside, killing several hundred, the majority being children, some even ethnically Russian. Some of the dead children’s skulls were used as ornaments for the unit’s tanks with the name of the village written in marker on the bone. The Russians also ‘pioneered’ the use of public rape of both women and men in villages with the residents forced to watch while bound. It was an astonishingly brutal instrument of revenge and humiliation in the conservative Muslim society they were in. Many of the victims, regardless of sex, would kill themselves from despair soon after. Then came the single most horrifying incident of the conflict, the Vedeno Massacre. On September 14th, the entire male population down to roughly twelve years old in the village of Vedeno was executed before most of the remaining females were raped. Tear-ridden ten-year-old boys would try hopelessly to save their sisters, sometimes younger than them, from being raped and were shot in response. Female Russian nurses at the scene looked on and laughed, even encouraging the violence. It remains one of the two national days of national mourning in Ichkeria today stemming from the conflict, the other needing no explanation. 
The details of were so agonising that when war Correspondent Christopher Hitchens would report back to The Nation about what he found in the village two days after the slaughter when Chechens forces moved back in, they accused him of being too credulous to the Chechen accounts despite having spoken directly to many of the survivors and literally having seen the corpses. “I remember the strange horror,” Hitchens recalled, “of realising that this must have been exactly how Gareth Jones had felt when he became the Cassandra of the Holodomor. Of ringing the claxon as desperately as your arms could carry in warning, and of no one coming to heed it.” In desperation, he sent the information to the New Statesman, who immediately understood the gravity of the situation when Hitchens told them, “Even if they’re Islamists, they’ve got to win this war.” On September 20th, the full report was published, and the level of international fury was so intense that there were genuine fears among cooler heads in the Pentagon that the West would be forced by outrage alone to launch a full military intervention, nukes be damned. The claims of genocide were now almost undeniable, and the West struggled to resist a nuclear entanglement that incoming events would mercifully (through merciless means) never come to pass in the world-ending form that many feared.
Given this level of debauched evil that only the Dirlewanger Brigade could hope to match, even atheists like Hitchens could endorse the declaration of Jihad from Grand Mufti Khadyrov on September 30th, with an addendum that the Jihad would only apply to the ‘Muslim lands of Russia’. Dudayev had been told in very plain terms by the Americans, Turks and Israelis that the help he was getting was entirely contingent on the Islamists not doing anything stupid like launch civilian attacks in Russia which could sabotage his international support. Dudayev, from his command post in an abandoned nuclear missile silo, consequently made sure Khadyrov would not endorse terror attacks in Russia proper. But the effects of the Vedeno Massacre went far beyond a simple declaration of Jihad. Though it wasn’t easy to disseminate information across Russia, the level of societal collapse that accompanied the NSF’s continued rule had led to corruption so wide as to steer the Titanic through it. Despite the very word ‘Vedeno’ being banned by Makashov’s government to hopelessly try and maintain secrecy, it didn’t work. Dagestan found out. Ossetia found out. Tatarstan found out. Many friends of the NSF in the Arab world, notably the Assad regime in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq would be unsurprisingly quiet and would cheer Moscow for ‘their combined front against the Zionist menace’. But the Muslim population of Russia, who had mostly kept their heads’ down in fear due to not wanting to encourage the Fascist Bloc, now began to realise what the Jews of Russia had already realised: that the NSF weren’t going to stop with their mere submission, and that the main difference between the Fascists and Communists was only the speed at which the ethnic persecution would begin (assuming they hadn’t already died from starvation by then). Driven to rage beyond description, the Dagestanis decided that they’d had enough.
On October 6th, tens of thousands of Dagestanis of all ethnicities (including Russians) defied the ‘anti-terrorist laws’ forbidding gatherings and protests to stand outside the regional parliament in Makhachkala and demand Russian troops to leave Dagestan. “Vedeno! Vedeno!” they roared, defying Moscow’s demands. The protestors further demanded the return of Magomedali Magomedov to regional president, popular for his efforts to balance the interests of the various Dagestani tribes, who had been kicked out by the NSF and replaced by a cabal of ethnic Russians parachuted into the region to manage the war effort. Smaller groups demanded Sharia, others simply demanded food. The scene was set for an explosive conclusion. Perhaps October 6th would be best described as the day when the implosion of Russia changed from a conjecture to an inevitability.
Pamphlet written by Dudayev in response to the Vedeno Massacre
“Sons of the Caucasus! Muslims! Christians! And all else whose was born from the soils of our lands! It has been many years since we came together as one! We were one when our ancestors were robbed, slaughtered and enslaved when the Rashist beast sank its claws into our lands over a hundred years ago. When it made its way down the Black Sea like the Black Death. Then in 1921 we fought together again against the Communists, dying as martyrs in the service of our ancestors. We lost and paid the price. Our women and children were violated and murdered by Moscow, sent to the death camps of Asia or to the firing squads by the Volga. For years, we feared to rise as one again. Now, in Vedeno, you can see what happens when we don’t. No army from Hell itself would be capable of a crime so great, but Russia is a demon beyond Satan himself. If we do not rise as one against this demon, there won’t be a Chechen people anymore, and soon after, no Inguish, Ossetians, Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, nothing. If there are any true men left in these mountains, if there are any with a trace of masculine pride alive or dormant within their blood, if there are any who do not call themselves cowards before their kith and kin, then the hour to prove your existence has come. It is our generation that must stand at the final confrontation that was centuries in its making! The final confrontation between the Caucasians and Russia, and only one will survive. But if we fight with all the manhood of our races, it will not be the death of the Caucasians, but the death of Russia. And though Russia has the armies of Hell and death and evil on its side, Satan’s forces themselves would run in fear of a Caucasian army. And even if the sounds of their cannons roar so loud that they bleed your ears, listen to the roars of your ancestors cheering your names from Heaven, for they roar louder and forever!”
Extract from ‘A Continent of Fire’ by James Melfi
The blowback had been gigantic abroad but it was enormous in Moscow. The Fascists accused the Communists of being ‘too soft’ on Chechnya due to the initial failure of the invasion, while the Communists accused the Fascists of being the reason anyone wanted to leave the glorious NSF state in the first place. A hodge-podge of equal but opposing delusions brought daily decision making to a standstill, the only impact being complete loss of control of the situation on the ground. Orders to ‘subjugate’ and ‘eliminate’ all opposition led to incidents like Vedeno. The casualties were astronomical. Though official announcements would peg KIA as only costing a few thousand, subsequent analysis, including from what few records survived the Civil War revealed that from May 9th to Vedeno that September, more Russians died in Chechnya than Soviets died in the entirety of the Afghanistan War. In order to resolve the now chronic manpower issues, conscripts from the farthest reaches of the country were called up, often with the brunt of the enlistment on ethnic minorities and rural peasants. While much has been made of the former, the latter perhaps held an even greater role in Russia’s dissolution. The scarcity of resources that was exacerbated by the knowledge that the country was on the brink of famine led to the various regions of Russia stealing resources for themselves, often with superiors picking favourites, and sometimes literally who would live or die.
One problem with the conscription was that the morale of the troops simply could not have been lower. Desertion rates had gotten so bad that whole regiments had left, many carrying supplies for troops down the line who now then deserted because supplies didn’t come in. In response to this crisis, and conscious of the deleterious effects of taking so many conscripts from their work, Makashov in a spell of Communist nostalgia would announce the return of the infamous ‘Not One Step Back’ order. This was in some way a compromise with Barkashov’s demands to let his paramilitaries into the fray in Chechnya. Instead, specialised Penal Battalions were created, partly out of various Communist but mainly Fascist paramilitaries, and others being rich kids who bought their way out of the army for a safer time behind the lines. Their role was to shoot anyone who was caught deserting from the fight. The main effect of this was people going into hiding across the country before the drafters could catch them, or often crossing the border, where they were dumped in an already dangerously overcrowded Kaliningrad since no one wanted to cooperate with Makashov’s hellhole.
However, the penal battalions predictably became among the most hated groups in the whole army for obvious reasons, especially that they were not in the front lines of combat itself. On October 4th, one confrontation between the army and the penal battalion in the south of Chechnya would lead to ten deaths, five of each. But to Chechens, the penal battalions would be considered the most monstrous of all the Russian units, and while civilians had at least a chance if they ran into a Russian soldier that he would be too consumed in other work to care about them, the penal battalions were a certain visitation of agonising death if they happened to run into any Chechen in the forests or mountains. But such meetings were rare, as these battalions were content to relax in Dagestan on significantly easier missions and schedules than anyone just to the west was enduring. The Dagestanis also despised them due to their virulently racist attitudes, escalating the increasingly fraught atmosphere in Russia’s southernmost republic. Thus, on October 6th 1994, it was the Penal Battalions who were ordered to keep control at the demonstration.
The head of the penal battalion at the scene, Igor Strelkov, was a veteran of the Bosnian war volunteering for the Serbian forces where he participated in the Visegrad Massacre. Bitter from the NATO intervention that ruined his side’s dreams of an ethnically cleansed Orthodox Slavic state, he had done little to disguise his contempt for the Dagestanis as his company lounged in cafes with stolen money in Makhachkala, picking one-sided fights and refusing to pay for bills. There is no evidence that the demonstration in Makhachkala was particularly violent, though there were public displays of Dudayev’s portrait and of great freedom fighters of old. There is furthermore no evidence of an order from the top to start shooting. Eyewitness evidence and evidence from surviving details about Strelkov hint that his loss in Bosnia had driven him bitter and mad, and historians theorise that he simply had enough of seeing the Dagestanis, a Muslim ethnic group that spoke a Slavic language, as the Bosnians who had humiliated him. Strelkov gathered several men, went to a nearby tank, and took the driver’s seat. He then proceeded to drive the tank past the Russian lines, over the barricade into the crowd, and began to crush everyone he could see. Filled with shock, the rest of the penal battalion began to wildly fire into the crowd, causing a stampede that would kill further people. But the Dagestanis were not stupid, and had come prepared for this possibility. Guns were pulled from jackers while civilians ran in all directions. The Dagestani militias (many Salafists) fired almost as wildly as the Russians as people fell left and right. However, the sheer demographics of the tens of thousands of people in attendance soon paid off, as windows were seized and fire rained down on the Russians from above. Policemen fired their pistols from behind corners against assault rifles, taxi drivers swerved their cars into Russian troops and the (mercifully empty) parliament building began to burn. Eventually, RPGs were provided and the tank Strelkov was in was hit and immobilised. As the tank filled with smoke, dozens jumped on it despite the growing flames. Strelkov’s head emerged from the top, trying to fire his pistol at everyone he could see. One hand grabbed his pistol, another from behind plunged his fingers into his eyes, and when he began to scream a final hand grabbed his lower jaw and ripped it off, skin and bone from his skull. Most of the Dagestanis would get off before the tank and the remaining Russians inside were burned to ashes. Minutes later, cluster bombs from planes that were supposed to be dropping their cargo on Chechnya were turned around and began to be indiscriminately dropped on Makhachkala amidst the hundreds of corpses already filling the roads. Though the flames almost reached the clouds in Makhachkala, in almost every city around Dagestan, the sparks had taken on a life of their own. In a matter of days, those unlucky souls loyal to the Russian Federation that hadn’t escaped Dagestan were either in hiding or in graves.
It’s estimated that as many as 1,145 Dagestanis and 89 Russian troops would die on Black Thursday in Makhachkala on October 6th 1994. It would mark the beginning of Dagestan’s Independence war, albeit one vastly less coordinated than Chechnya. Far from having a unifying, charismatic leader like Dudayev, the notoriously multicultural and multi-ethnic region suffered from a lack of guiding figures. The ‘Dagestani Restoration Council’ of leading members of the main ethnic groups of Dagestan would be announced but they would have to fight for influence against various clerics, some Salafists funded directly by Saudi Arabia. Devoid of order, Dagestan would be a land of fire and chaos in the closing months of 1994, as no one knew who was in control of what. The only thing they knew for sure was that Russian troops had fled the madness and allowed Dagestan to devour itself, hoping the splits between the ethnic groups would allow Russia to eventually swoop back in once the Chechen job was finished. This was naturally a delusional version of reality but in the paranoia and finger pointing across the halls of power of Moscow, many had already succumbed to utter madness.
All the same, the effect on Chechnya alone was electric. Virtually the entirety of Russian troops in the eastern sector of Chechnya found themselves completely cut off. Some tried to flee over the mountains to Georgia, where more often than not Georgian border guards would detain them and hand them over to the Chechens to have their slaughter and mutilation filmed in pornographic detail. Others simply ran into the mountains and starved to death, horrified to leave and potentially run into the agonising fate of being captured by the Chechens - even indescribable starvation was preferable. After Vedeno, the average Russian soldier made sure to always have one bullet (or better yet a cyanide capsule) to make sure that he could kill himself before the Chechens got them. It’s estimated that as many as 7,000 Russian troops may have died in Chechnya simply due to the collapse of their bases in Dagestan. Russian troops farther north did not even try to rescue their comrades in the south, a testament to how broken and demoralised the army had fallen. To make morale, somehow even worse, Russia would announce that they would be pulling out of Ingushetia for fear of a similar incident as Black Thursday happening in a region that used to be part of Ichkeria. On October 23rd the retreat began, with the last Russians leaving on a thoroughly miserable Halloween, effectively making Ingushetia independent once again, though the loyalists fled with the Russians and were thus not liquidated. Some divisions ended up leaving as many as 90% of their tanks behind for the Chechens in a war they were supposed to continue fighting. Owing to Dudayev’s newfound hero status among the Caucasus, calls quickly began to rejoin Ichkeria, which it did in nominal form by New Year’s in the new ‘Ichkerian Federation’. This was mostly a propaganda stunt to keep Dudayev away from any decision making power over the Inguish, many of whom felt he was more Chechen than Caucasian.
But it wasn’t just the Caucasus where the Russian Federation would crumble. On October 14th 1994, President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev would announce the cancellation of negotiations with Moscow, saying that events in Vedeno and Makhachkala had shown that Russia was, ‘A country not worth living or dying for, but we can create a country that is.” In so doing, he made Tatarstan (the relatively wealthy and culturally distinct republic many had considered a sure fire success if they went their own way) an independent state. In response, Makashov ordered divisions from neighbouring Bashkortostan to move in and crush Tatarstan. He instead received an astonishing telegram in return from Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov. It said that ‘If Chairman Makashov intends to make a Chechnya out of Tatarstan, then we shall make a Chechnya out of Russia. If you commit one more Vedeno, one more Makhachkala, we will shake this planet to its foundations.’ The divisions, many ethnically Russian, did not believe in dying to subjugate Tatarstan and stayed put. This was the largest open act of mutiny in Russian history since 1917, and all because the Bashkortostan President could offer those soldiers something that so many regional presidents couldn’t - enough food for the Winter.
On October 27th, forces of the Bashkortostan and Tatarstan Republic launched an attack into the Russian Federation from Southern Bashkortostan, dashing towards the Kazakh border and establishing a narrow supply corridor between the stranded republics and the outside world. That any of the ethnic republics had the gall to do this was impressive, with even Dudayev not having been bold enough to launch an attack into non-ethnic republic territory. Though in propaganda this was entirely a humanitarian mission, with the Kazakhs providing food for the ‘starving Muslim peoples of Russia’, in reality, the upstart Republics of Tatarstan and Bashkorostan were given every weapon they could carry by both Turkish and Chinese arms dealers. Those very same weapons almost immediately defended the Republics’ lifeline to the outside world as nearby waves of Russian troops that were considered too disorganised and ineffective to go to Chechnya were recklessly thrown at the corridor in desperation to close it before it was too late. Because as one corridor opened, another closed. Tatarstan and Bashkorostan had literally cut Russia in two, as almost all Russian traffic over the Urals was done through the republics or beneath them. With Udmurtia still loyal to Russia but facing gigantic ethnic riots, the final routes that didn’t go straight over the mountains were effectively cut off. This meant that the 80% of Russia that was beyond the Urals were now effectively cut off from the 80% of Russia’s population that existed on the other side of the mountains. It would mean raw material from Siberia could not come over the Urals nor processed materials from European Russia go the other way. The lines were broken, the supplies were gone, and collapse was no longer coming, but happening. People were going to die, their wives were going to die, their husbands were going to die, their girlfriends were going to die, their boyfriends were going to die, their friends were going to die, their kids were going to die, everyone was going to die.
On October 27th 1994, Russia itself would die.
 - The targeting of children sites and hospitals was well documented during Putin's wars. The Samashki Massacre actually happened OTL essentially as described. The Vedeno Massacre is fictional, but a combination of Srebrenica and a real incident that happened in 1945 to German women and children in a refugee column by the Red Army, including the part about the Russian army women laughing.
EDIT: Found it, unfortunately.