By Stephen Blank
July 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The revelations that Moscow paid Taliban warriors bounties to kill U.S., British, and other allied soldiers in Afghanistan is already generating a scandal in the United States. Yet for those who closely monitor Russian foreign policy in Central Asia and Afghanistan, this represents a particularly grisly escalation of policy but not a change in strategy. Moscow has long been determined to enhance its position with the Taliban and accelerate the ejection of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which it regards as a threat to its position in Central Asia and to Russia. In Moscow’s imagination, the presence of several U.S. and/or NATO airbases in Afghanistan could strike Russian targets in Central Asia. Moreover, Russia has consistently expressed a visceral reaction to the presence of foreign military forces, especially Western ones, in and around Central Asia.
By Emil A. Souleimanov and Huseyn Aliyev
August 28, 2019, the CACI Analyst
Following Ramzan Kadyrov’s reappointment in 2016 as head of the Chechen Republic for yet another five-year term, the ambitions of the Chechen strongman have grown. While intensifying his age-old rivalry with Rosneft for control over Chechnya’s oil resources and with Gazprom over writing off Chechnya’s debt, Kadyrov has sought to expand to the neighboring republics not only politically but also geographically, claiming parts of Ingush and Dagestani territories. Kadyrov’s ongoing struggle with Ingush activists, along with his interference in the neighboring republic’s internal affairs, has caused an internal revolt in Ingushetia. Likewise, Kadyrov’s claims on contested border territory have stirred tension in Dagestan.
By Natalia Konarzewska
February 20, 2018, the CACI Analyst
In late September, Ramazan Abdulatipov announced his decision to step down from his post as the head of the Republic of Dagestan. Abdulatipov cited his age (71) as the main reason for his resignation, but the change of leadership in Dagestan should be viewed in the context of Russia’s upcoming presidential ballot scheduled for March 2018. Moscow habitually replaces heads of the federal subjects just before or after elections. Likely reasons behind Abdulatipov’s resignation are his poor performance and inability to tackle the republic’s most pressing problems. Multi-ethnic Dagestan is one of the Russian Federation’s most unstable subjects, continuously embattled by economic problems, clan rivalry and the activities of religious militants. On October 3, President Vladimir Putin appointed Vladimir Vasilyev, who does not represent any local ethnic group, to fill the vacant position.
By Emil A. Souleimanov & Huseyn Aliyev
October 24, 2017, the CACI Analyst
In late August, Chechnya’s ruler Ramzan Kadyrov issued several statements on his Instagram profile appealing to fellow Muslims to support publicly the case of persecuted Myanmar (Burmese) Muslims, Rohingya, while prompting Russian authorities to take an international stand on their behalf. Shortly thereafter, unapproved mass demonstrations, inspired or organized by Kadyrov, took place in downtown Moscow and Grozny, during which siloviki treated protesters unexpectedly gently. Kadyrov went so far as to make a controversial statement challenging Russia’s international stance on the issue. Kadyrov soon softened his tone, yet his appeals were unprecedented – even by the standards of Chechnya’s strongman. They outraged many in Russia, pointing to Kadyrov’s impunity not only for actions on the domestic and federal scenes, but increasingly also for meddling in Russia’s international affairs.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.