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Russia's Counterinsurgency in North Caucasus: Performance and Consequences

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The North Caucasus has been a source of instability for Russia ever since the Russian Empire brought the region under its control in the course of the late-18th and the first half of the 19th centuries. General Alexei Yermolov, a top Russian commander in North Caucasus, used inhumanely harsh methods to conquer the region and retain it under the Romanov crown s control. Hundreds of thousands were ethnically cleansed, and many civilians murdered. In the Russian Civil War 1918-21, which took place right after World War I, the North Caucasus became a victim of both the tsarist White Army and the communist Red Army, who plundered the region and refused to give its peoples the rights they hoped to regain after the war was over. A little over 2 decades after that, the North Caucasus nations faced merciless deportations as a result of imaginary crimes they allegedly committed against the Soviet Union during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of Chechens and Ingush were ethnically cleansed and forcibly relocated to Kazakhstan s frozen steppes, Central Asian deserts, and elsewhere. In the 1990s, Chechen demands for independence led to two devastating wars, which resulted in tens of thousands of casualties, destroyed cities and villages, and hundreds of thousands of refugees. Today, the region reminds one of a simmering cauldron, and the issues that caused so much violence in the past have not been resolved. Russia has basically granted Chechnya a de facto independence, complemented by huge federal monetary subsidies, in order to prevent it from trying to claim de jure independence again. This strategy has so far been successful. However, the fragile stability in Chechnya is now based on the depth of the Kremlin s pockets the whims of the current Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov and on appeasing the local population with federal money. How long this bargain between the Kremlin, Kadyrov, and the Chechen people will last remains to be seen.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Unconventional Warfare

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