The Caucasus is home to many small and fiercely proud ethno-national groups scattered across the strategic terrain. It is also Russia’s southern defensive border, and control of the region means control of a better part of the Black and Caspian sea coastlines. By 1991, with the Soviet Union disintegrating, many Chechen nationalists saw their opportunity to finally achieve independence. The first Chechen war was the inevitable consequence of the Chechen nationalist goal, which was to establish an independent Chechen nation-state. After Chechnya declared independence in 1991, Moscow’s fear was that other ethnic minorities, autonomous republics or regions within the Russian Federation would attempt to secede as well, though it would not try to teach the Chechens a lesson until 1994.