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Russia's Restless Frontier

Russia's Restless Frontier: The Chechnya Factor in Post-Soviet Russia

Dmitri V. Trenin
Aleksei V. Malashenko
with Anatol Lieven
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Russia's Restless Frontier
    Book Description:

    The conflict in Chechnya, going through its low- and high-intensity phases, has been doggedly accompanying Russia's development. In the last decade, the Chechen war was widely covered, both in Russia and in the West. While most books look at the causes of the war, explain its zigzag course, and condemn the brutalities and crimes associated with it, this book is different. Its focus lies beyond the Caucasus battlefield. In Russia's Restless Frontier, Dmitri Trenin and Aleksei Malashenko examine the implications of the war with Chechnya for Russia's post-Soviet evolution. Considering Chechnya's impact on Russia's military, domestic politics, foreign policy, and ethnic relations, the authors contend that the Chechen factor must be addressed before Russia can continue its development.

    eISBN: 978-0-87003-294-3
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Jessica T. Mathews

    The conflict in Chechnya, through periods of high and low intensity, has doggedly accompanied Russia’s post-Soviet development. In the past decade, the Chechen conflict has been widely covered by the media in Russia and especially in the West. Most authors look primarily for its causes, try to explain its zigzag course, and condemn the brutalities and crimes associated with it. This book is different. While it provides the reader with some of the background of the conflict and is forthright in reporting the crimes committed and the human suffering, its focus lies far beyond the Caucasus battlefield.

    Dmitri Trenin, who...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Many works have analyzed the Chechen war.¹ This book differs from most other treatments. Its main focus is not so much on the conflict itself, but rather on its wider ramifications. As a prominent Russian politician once despaired, “We’ve got Chechnya everywhere!” This remark clearly calls for an explanation. Ultimately, Chechnya remains the only example of armed rebellion and large-scale military action in the Russian Federation. However, lawlessness and a propensity to use force are commonplace across the country as a whole.

    We proceed from an apparent paradox. Whereas the war is largely peripheral to Russia and is largely perceived...

  6. 2 A Chronicle of an Unfinished Conflict
    (pp. 15-48)

    The society and mentality of Chechnya are traditionally based on egalitarianism and the priority of personal freedom. As a result, it was commonly believed the Chechens did not, and indeed, could not, create a sustainable political hierarchy that other peoples, including Chechnya’s neighbors, have developed to varying extents. Lacking a structured society, Chechens could not reach a consensus as a people, which made it difficult for them to maintain a dialogue with external actors, including Russia. In the nineteenth century, for example, the fragmented nature of Chechen society prevented a reconciliation with Russia after the Caucasian war. Simply put, there...

  7. 3 The Chechen War and the Russian World
    (pp. 49-70)

    How has the war in Chechnya influenced Russian society? What imprint has it left on Russia’s emerging national identity, self-image, and attitudes to state power and to the supremacy of a central government? In what way has the war changed the political affiliations of Russian citizens? What will be the long-term consequences of the war for Russian society? Will it be remembered as an episode, or as an important and enduring factor?

    These questions have no simple answers. The conflict, after all, is far from over. Although the military phase of the counterterrorist operation was officially declared at an end...

  8. 4 The Islamic Factor
    (pp. 71-102)

    No study of the conflict in Chechnya is complete without an analysis of the Islamic factor. For many Russians, a bearded man holding a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and wearing a green headband has become the symbol of Chechen separatism and the stereotypical image of a Chechen. Today in Russia the wordterrorismis rarely used without the adjectiveIslamic.

    What is the exact meaning of the Islamic factor? Does it stand for the Islamic tradition’s influence on developments in a particular Muslim society, country, or region? Does it relate to Islam’s well-known refusal to differentiate between the secular and the...

  9. 5 War and the Military
    (pp. 103-164)

    The Chechen campaigns have constituted a turning point in Russia’s military history.¹ For half a century before “Chechnya,” the armed forces were exclusively focused on a world war scenario. This stance was not immediately altered after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It took two Chechen campaigns before the strategic focus budged. Even as the old Western front became quieter and the Eastern front also quiescent, Russia’s exposed southern flank became the prime source of concern. The first Chechen campaign signaled the beginning of a change in Russia’s geostrategic environment, and the second campaign made that change official.

    The change...

  10. 6 International Ramifications
    (pp. 165-208)

    The Chechen conflict emerged from the general confusion and withdrawal of Russia from the former Soviet periphery in the early 1990s, and the efforts of other forces to fill the vacuum. The Chechen war, along with the broader war on terrorism and other politico-economic trends, has altered the landscape along Russia’ entire southern periphery. This chapter discusses how the military campaigns in Chechnya and politico-military developments in Central Asia, including Afghanistan, helped shape a new approach in Moscow toward the south, and ultimately facilitated Russia’s security policy rapprochement with the West.

    The principal challenge for Moscow is stabilizing the still...

  11. 7 Chechnya and the Laws of War
    (pp. 209-224)
    Anatol Lieven

    The suffering of the Chechen population at the hands of the Russian armed forces in Chechnya since October 1999 has severely damaged Russia’s international standing as well as the goals of the Russian operation. It has created numerous new recruits for Chechen militants, even among people who before the Russian military intervention loathed the militants and their aims. The suffering has made a negotiated end to the conflict much more elusive, and has undermined the possibility of fruitful diplomatic mediation by outside parties. It has also gravely complicated Russia’s efforts at closer relations with western Europe as well as its...

  12. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 225-228)

    A decade and a half after the beginning of Gorbachevʼs perestroika, Russia is still much closer to the beginning, rather than the end, of its transformation process. Compared with countries of Central and Eastern Europe, or even countries of the former Soviet Union, the task of Russian society is complicated by the fact that its economic, political, and social transformation is linked to a transition from imperial—or more accurately, post-imperial—status to a new modus vivendi with the world.

    The path toward the reconstruction of a Eurasian empire (under whatever name) is finally closed. The resignation of Yeltsin did...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 229-248)
  14. Index
    (pp. 249-262)
  15. About the Authors
    (pp. 263-264)
  16. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    (pp. 265-265)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-266)