The warring parties in the Karabakh conflict, especially the Azerbaijani side, have decided to shake the status quo in the Caucasus. Violence could recur at any time and the latest fighting clearly demonstrates that the combined goodwill and cooperation of Moscow and Washington is no longer sufficient.
The twenty-one-year ceasefire in and around Nagorny Karabakh had been looking very precarious. A tragic outbreak of fighting there could be dangerous for the whole region.
Putin has little choice but to ask Ramzan Kadyrov to remain as head of the Chechen Republic. But doing so will reveal how indispensable Kadyrov is to the Kremlin and betray Putin’s weaknesses in Chechnya.
With parliamentary elections slated for the fall, Georgia’s ruling party is hoping that low energy prices will ensure victory at the polls. Once relatively independent of Gazprom, the government in Tbilisi is weighing importing natural gas from the Russian energy giant
The North Caucasus Islamists’ wish to join ISIS makes some sense. By joining, they would cast themselves not just as regional players but worldwide jihadists. The relations between ISIS and the Caucasus Emirate, however, have been fraught with difficulties.
Ramzan Kadyrov is setting himself up to be an alternative to Putin, an improved version of the original. But the original rarely forgives the man who dares to copy him.
Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has begun 2016 by picking fights with Russia’s opposition. Although they see it as a sign of his political strength, the new row reveals his weakness: Kadyrov is anxious to get renewed political and economic support from the Kremlin for Chechnya’s “special status.”
The Russian authorities have been reluctant to admit that an attack in southern Dagestan on the eve of New Year was the work of Islamic State. The organization is making a bid to play a role in the North Caucasus.
The double blow of falling oil prices and a decrease in remittances from Russia is making Azerbaijan economically fragile. Azerbaijan’s leaders have not prepared the country for future shocks.
Russia’s official Muslim establishment blames the West for the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State and refuses to admit that radical Islam has a real social base, ignoring the radicalization of many ordinary Muslims in Russia and Central Asia.