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.
Several police injured in three attacks allegedly carried out by minors in Chechnya 20 Aug; knife attack on district police station in Shali town injuring two officers, carried out by two alleged perpetrators who were shot dead; alleged perpetrator blowing himself up at police post in Merker-Yurt village without injuring others; and vehicle used to hit police officers in capital Grozny, driver shot dead. At least five alleged attackers died during incidents; Chechen information minister told media that attackers’ ages ranged from eleven to sixteen years old, authorities said driver in latter incident was younger brother of convicted terrorist Khizir Akhmatkhanov. Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied ISIS claim, saying group has no support in Chechnya. Police reportedly detained up to 200 teenagers in Shali for interrogation 23-25 Aug; Kadyrov pledged to collectively punish alleged attackers’ relatives. Thousands gathered in Geldagen village to attend burial of Yusup Temerkhanov, convicted of 2011 murder of Russian colonel who was convicted of murdering Chechen teenager in 2000; Temerkhanov died in prison in Siberia 3 Aug. Kadyrov 23 Aug said he would ban from region human rights activists, who have been travelling to Chechnya to attend trial of Oyub Titiyev, director of Chechnya office of Memorial human rights organisation, once trial is over, saying they were provocateurs like terrorists and extremists; international rights groups called on Kremlin to safeguard rights defenders’ access to Chechnya and ensure Titiyev’s release.
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’s North Caucasus insurgency has gone relatively quiet, as Moscow crushed militants and many left to fight in Syria and Iraq. But longstanding grievances remain and the war may only have widened, as evidenced by the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt and the emergence of new groups swearing allegiance to the Islamic State in Russia itself.
[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 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.
After the nuclear deal, in 2015, Putin worried about rapprochement between Iran and the U.S. A lot has changed. Russia is now Iran’s most important and powerful ally.
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.
Many wonder what the world should expect now that Russia’s Vladimir Putin has been re-elected for what is supposed to be his final term. Understanding what motivates the Kremlin could help Western policymakers build an approach toward Russia that combines pressure with opportunities for engagement.