In 2010, the Russian republic of Dagestan pioneered alternatives to force in dealing with its jihadist insurgency, though it reverted to repression ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Faced with possible returns of fighters from Syria and Iraq, the authorities should revisit their nuanced policies.
Following controversial 26 Sept deal with Chechnya on demarcation of administrative boundary between regions, month saw political crisis in Ingushetia and increased tensions with neighbouring republic Chechnya. Thousands rallied in front of regional parliament in Ingush capital Magas 4 Oct as lawmakers debated deal; bodyguards of regional leader Ynus-Bek Yevkurov fired into air after protesters threw plastic bottles at him. Govt reported parliament approved deal, although some lawmakers claimed vote was falsified. Protests continued in main square 5-7 Oct, and from 8 Oct in front of state radio and TV, demanding Yevkurov’s resignation and referendum on deal; media reported large numbers of women and elderly among protesters. Leadership claimed deal only exchanges unpopulated agricultural land, however protesters claim it is unfair and detrimental to region and was made without consultation; adding to pressure on Yevkurov, Ingushetia’s constitutional court ruled decision illegal, saying it should be decided by referendum, however Yevkurov refused to accept ruling. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said protesters would be “held accountable”, and 19 Oct reportedly visited villager in area concerned. Presidential envoy Alexander Matovnikov and local civil society representatives met 16 Oct, decided to hold session of Ingush Commission on Cooperation with Chechen govt agencies on border dispute; Ingush authorities said meeting took place next day; Russia’s RBC media reported that Kremlin officials acknowledged law had “inconsistencies”. Amnesty International said one of its researchers monitoring protests in Magas was abducted 6 Oct by men claiming to be security officials, who held him hostage for six days, beat him and subjected him to mock execution; Ingushetia interior ministry said it could not verify claims. In Dagestan, security forces reported they killed two suspected militants during counterterrorism operation 13 Oct in Khasavyurt region, where they have been conducting operations since mid-Sept. Military tribunal in Ingushetia 25 Oct upheld murder and torture convictions against seven security personnel including head of counter-terrorism centre, for killing, use of violence and extortion.
With living conditions worsening, and crossfire still claiming casualties, people residing in eastern Ukraine’s conflict zone feel increasingly abandoned by the central government. Reintegrating the area requires Russian withdrawal, but in the meantime Kyiv can and should better protect civilians and meet humanitarian needs.
Much of north-eastern Syria has been safe during the civil war. But in the event of U.S. military withdrawal, a mad scramble for control could be unleashed. Washington and Moscow should help their respective allies in Syria reach a decentralisation deal for the area.
The Kremlin is fostering a culture of military-tinged patriotism, partly to rally support for armed interventions abroad. The sentiment springs from pride in Russia’s past as a global power and desire to reclaim that status. Its possible co-optation by far-right nationalists, however, should worry Moscow.
Rivalry persists between Russia and Turkey in their shared neighbourhood of the Black Sea and the South Caucasus. But Moscow-Ankara relations have warmed overall. Building on their wider rapprochement, the two powers can work together to tamp down flare-ups of regional conflicts.
As the Syrian regime masses its forces to recapture the country’s south west from the opposition, another humanitarian disaster looms. The U.S., Russia and Jordan, which brokered a south-western ceasefire in 2017, should urgently extend that truce in preparation for a broader settlement.
China and Russia’s separate visions for Central Asia could transform the region’s political and economic landscape as well as relations between the two Eurasian giants. To the smaller, embryonic Central Asian nation states, the new geopolitical realities could offer both economic prosperity as well as worsening instability and conflict.
[Russia is] targeting the [African] regimes that do have not have very good relations with the west or who are dissatisfied with west like Sudan, Zimbabwe and CAR.
[The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey] demonstrates a striking level of pragmatism in this relationship.
The current situation does not contribute to the post-war reconciliation [between Russia and Georgia] - it only fuels conflict with an increasing feeling of injustice for [people] living near the dividing line.
[The] assumption that [President Putin has] a grand evil plan only feeds the domestic myth of a Russia under siege.
Russia needs both the Syrian regime and Turkey. So it has to give a little bit to both and it has to ... make them equally angry, if that's what it wants.
In the end [Moscow] will want a political solution in Syria, and economic reconstruction. For that they will need European input and money and investment.
Originally published in Russia File
Originally published in Time
Crisis Group's Europe & Central Asia Program Director Magdalena Grono talks about the relations between Russia and Turkey as they reflect on the Black Sea and the South Caucasus.