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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

23 Army Helicopters Destroyed in Chechnya

NAZRAN, Ingushetia — Russian forces have lost 23 military helicopters in the war in Chechnya since fighting began about a year ago, Interfax reported Tuesday.

The report, citing unidentified Defense Ministry officials, was the first time the military gave a total figure for the number of helicopters destroyed in the war, although some individual losses have been reported.

The loss of 23 helicopters would be a major drain for the cash-strapped military, which rarely receives new weapons.

Military spokesmen in Moscow declined to comment on the Interfax report.

The helicopters buzz above roads and forest paths in Chechnya seeking rebel forces to attack, and are used to escort military columns and transport troops.

The losses comprised 11 heavily armed and armored Mi-24 helicopter gunships and 12 Mi-8 multipurpose helicopters, the report said.

About half the losses were caused by enemy fire and about half by pilot error, the report said. In addition, helicopters were damaged on about 200 occasions in the war, the report said.

In another development, Russian officials decided this week to move the republic’s pro-Moscow administration to Grozny by Oct. 15 from its temporary base in Gudermes, Chechnya’s second-largest city 30 kilometers to the east, Izvestia reported Tuesday.