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Russia/North Caucasus

CrisisWatch Russia/North Caucasus

Unchanged Situation

President Putin 15 Jan proposed changes to Constitution during state of nation address, reportedly aimed at shifting power balance between president, cabinet and parliament as well as expanding powers of parliament in move which appears to open options for Putin to step aside from presidency in 2024 while retaining a degree of power. In response, cabinet resigned headed by PM Medvedev, Defence Minister Shoigu and FM Lavrov among few who remained in ensuing reshuffle; non-systemic opposition (unrepresented in Parliament) led protests in following weeks including in capital Moscow, in St. Petersburg and in Yekaterinburg; numbers were small. Some proposed changes included supremacy of Constitution over international laws, ban on foreign citizenship for President and several other officials, appointment by President of all heads of executive and security agencies and barring of “consecutive” two-term limit for President. In North Caucasus, Islamic State (ISIS) 2 Jan claimed responsibility for 31 Dec attack on road patrol which killed three outside Ingushetia’s capital Magas. Head of Chechen Republic since 2007 Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov 16 Jan ceded power due to “temporary disability” putting chairman of Chechen Republic govt Khuchiyev in charge; spokesperson said he is “undergoing treatment requiring medical procedures” same day. Russian court in Stavropol region 24 Jan sentenced Ingush activist to sixteen months in colony-settlement for assaulting police officers during demonstrations in Magas in March 2019; ninth activist to be condemned for similar activities.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

14 Feb 2020
Escalation is likely going to continue [in Syria] as long as Turkey and Russia cannot agree on a new cease-fire. NBC News

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
11 Sep 2018
[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 Guardian

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa
27 Aug 2018
[The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey] demonstrates a striking level of pragmatism in this relationship. Associated Press

Anna Arutunyan

Senior Analyst, Russia
6 Aug 2018
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. Al Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Analyst, Eastern Neighbourhood
5 Apr 2018
[The] assumption that [President Putin has] a grand evil plan only feeds the domestic myth of a Russia under siege. Newsweek

Anna Arutunyan

Senior Analyst, Russia
16 Mar 2018
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. Rudaw

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Latest Updates

Op-Ed / Europe & Central Asia

Putin’s Future: Reading the Tea Leaves

As President Putin announces changes to Russia’s constitution, Crisis Group expert Olga Oliker explores his plans for the future. Putin’s government may have resigned and his future role may be unknown, she says, but one thing is certain: he is the one calling the shots.

Originally published in Inkstick

Is Russia Changing Its Calculus in Eastern Ukraine?

Amid expectations that Russia will test Ukraine’s new president with escalatory actions, it appears that its calculus is to wait for Kyiv’s administration to make the first move – while quietly helping the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics entrench themselves economically.

“Nobody Wants Us”: The Alienated Civilians of Eastern Ukraine

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.

Also available in Українська

Prospects for a Deal to Stabilise Syria’s North East

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.

Also available in العربية, Türkçe

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Anna Arutunyan

Senior Analyst, Russia