Chechnya’s Enigma in the Geopolitical Context

Dr. Gayane Novikova
September 21, 2018

The Chechen conflict in Russia and with Russia echoes in many areas of the world. We can trace the Chechen fighters in the Nagorniy Karabakh conflict (where for a short period of time Chechen mercenaries were fighting alongside the Afghani mujaheddins against the local Armenians), in the Abkhazian conflict (where they supported their Abkhazian kin against the Georgian government), in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in late 2001, and in the Western Balkans (in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Most recently, they were fighting in Ukraine in support of both the Ukrainian and pro-Russian parties to the conflict: The Chechen “Depth battalion” with 300 fighters of were supporting the pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk, and the Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion was fighting on the side of the Ukrainian government.  Chechens were also among the military leadership of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Their nom de guerre, al-Shishani (“Chechen” in Arabic) identifies their ethnicity.

This article seeks to answer  two main questions:  A) why the so-called Chechen threat is spreading beyond the borders of the North Caucasus, and B) whether the suppressed Chechen insurgency, as well as the return of Chechen fighters from the Middle East, pose a security threat to Russia and its neighboring states.   See more