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The book The Time of the South: Russia in Chechnya, Chechnya in Russia is

co_authored by Aleksei Malashenko and Dmitri Trenin with a contribution

by Anatol Lieven. Its topic, clearly indicated in the title, is dealt with in five

chapters: 1. Chronicle of an Unfinished Conflict; 2. The Chechen War and

the Russian World; 3. The Islamic Factor; 4. The War and the Military; 5.

The International Ramifications; 6. Chechnya and the Laws of War (by Ana_

tol Lieven).

In the words of its authors, this book is not about the Chechen War, but

about its consequences. The Chechen War has led to noticeable shifts in Rus_

sia’s political life. It has been a major influence on inter_ethnic relations within

the Russian Federation and it has become one of the most important factors

prompting the reorientation in Moscow’s foreign policy. Finally, it has forced

the Russian military machine—which is still by virtue of its inertia focused on

opposing the West—to react to the new security challenges issuing from the


The war has also become an endurance test of Russia’s post_Soviet bor_


The war in Chechnya has facilitated the radicalization of Islam in the North_

ern Caucasus, and within Russia as a whole. Today, Islamic extremism—along

with the Islamic renaissance from which it draws its strength—is growing in_

side the country.

The war has led to the appearance in Russia of hundreds of thousands of

forced migrants, a development that has sparked tensions between the Slavic

majority and the country’s growing Muslim population. It has made terror_

ism a fact of Russia’s post_Soviet reality.

Having originally led to Russia’s political and diplomatic isolation in the

West, the Chechen War has become, in the wake of September 11, 2001, a

factor prompting the latest turnaround in Moscow’s policy toward rapproche_

ment with the United States and NATO.

The Chechen War is also a unique symbol of Russia’s loss of imperial sta_

tus. The Soviet Union was a continuation of the Russian Empire. The Rus_

sian Federation is no longer quite an empire, but neither is it a democracy in

the full sense of the word. The problem of Chechnya lies between these two

conditions of Russian statehood. The success of the state’s positive evolution

thus depends in large part on resolving the Chechen issue.

258 Summary

Its critics sometimes compare the Chechen War with the war in Algeria,

which was also not considered a colony, but rather a constituent part of the

French Republic. A different comparison, offered by those who defend Rus_

sian policy in the region, relates the Chechen situation to the situation in

Northern Ireland. Both comparisons are approximate and superficial. Alge_

ria is separated from France by the Mediterranean, while landlocked Chech_

nya is situated in the very center of Russia’s Northern Caucasus. The simple

“pull out and forget about it” solution is impossible here. The Northern Ire_

land comparison is equally untenable, as Belfast (unlike Grozny) has never

been subjected to Stalingrad_like devastation as the result of aerial and artil_

lery bombardment, and its population (unlike that of Chechnya) has never

been reduced to refugee status.

The first Chechen campaign undermined the presidency of Boris Yeltsin,

while the second became the political springboard for Vladimir Putin.

The second Chechen campaign was launched under the banner of an anti_

terrorist operation. After the terrorist attacks on the United States, “Chech_

nya” was written into the context of the global war against terrorism. Without

doubt, there is terrorism in Chechnya (one needs only to mention the names

of Khattab, Bassayev, and Raduyev to recall this). But terrorism is hardly the

dominant element of this situation in which such phenomena as separatism

and also ordinary banditry play a crucial role. In addition, the war against

terrorism—and not solely in Chechnya, but around the world—calls the meth_

ods of this battle into question. In a number of cases, the efforts to eradicate

terrorism have led to directly opposite results.

In the heat of battle, little attention is usually paid to the problem of a

subsequent settlement. Meanwhile, as has been repeatedly shown (particu_

larly in the case of Northern Ireland but also of Palestine), those who fight

against terrorism are eventually compelled to recognize their foes as partners

in negotiations to resolve the conflict.

Not only the campaign in Chechnya, but the global anti_terrorist operation

as a whole raises anew the issue of relations between the North and the South.

Thanks to the cooperation between the former Cold War antagonists—the West

and the former Eastern bloc—a new sort of international “Northern Alliance” is

taking shape. At the same time, the majority of terrorist organizations and those

who sympathize with them are coming from various regions of the “South.” In

Chechnya for example, the civilizational and developmental differences between

the principal players often result in the forces of traditional society opposing the

Federal authorities. Russia for its part is a typical state of the industrial era, and

its policy is debated (and often judged) by a postmodern Western Europe.

The transformational processes under way in Russia have already led to

the dislodging of the former Soviet South from its accustomed niche. The

Summary 259

conditions under which the Northern and Southern Caucasus and Central

Asia were integrated into the Russian state no longer exist. Following the ter_

ritorial collapse of the essentially imperial Soviet state, the erosion of the sense

of community formerly held among the people within the borders of the

U.S.S.R. has become an issue. A dangerous situation has arisen in Russia: the

earlier Soviet multi_ethnic community is receding into history, while a nation

of “Russian” citizens has yet to take shape. The Chechen War has erected a

barrier between the Slavic majority and “persons of Caucasian nationality,”

while helping to merge the concepts of “Islam.” Today, this constitutes a ma_

jor obstacle toward creating a post_imperial civil nation in Russia.

The book is called The Time of the South. In the authors’ opinion, it is

precisely along the southern axis that the most serious challenges Russia is

encountering today (and will continue to encounter in the foreseeable future)

are concentrated. In making this connection, Trenin and Malashenko are talk_

ing not only about the drawn_out Chechen War but about the problems of the

entire North Caucasus and those of the other Muslim enclaves within the

Russian Federation as well. Beyond Russia’s borders, the most serious poten_

tial problem for the Russian Federation is Kazakhstan, on whose stability in

inter_ethnic relations Russia’s security depends. Kazakhstan is without doubt

the only country in Central Asia where truly vital Russian interests are con_

centrated. However, it is important to note that the processes under way across

Central Asia (in particular in the the Fergana Valley) have a direct affect upon

the situation in Kazakhstan. The destruction of the Taliban in Afghanistan

has not solved the basic problems of stability of the region’s post_Soviet re_

gimes as these problems are primarily domestic in nature. Uzbekistan, Turk_

menistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan continue to remain—to varying degrees—

internally unstable states. They are also vulnerable from without, as they abut

the unstable regions of the Greater Middle East.

The social and political tension now evident from Xingjian to Palestine is

matched only by the proliferation there of missile technologies and weapons

of mass destruction. Due to its geographical proximity to this region, Russia

is especially vulnerable with regard to the consequences of using nuclear weap_

ons by the states of this region. In 1999 and again in 2002, India and Pakistan

brought the nuclear factor into their mutual relations. This testifies to the fact

that the main problem of strategic stability that has arisen in the twenty_first

century is that of maintaining the balance between so_called new nuclear states.

The security of Russia itself, and the nature of its relations with other na_

tions, depends on the correct choice of a “Southern” strategy and operation_

al tactics. Also dependent on this choice are the very nature of Russian state_

hood and the quality of Russian society. In this connection, the historical ex_

perience already at hand must be reexamined.

Against the mostly positive background of Russia’s transition to a modern

state, the longer the issue of its relations with the Muslim world drags on the

more striking it becomes. The “Muslim world” in this case refers to Muslim

communities within Russia itself and along the southern periphery of its bor_

ders, as well as the six new Muslim nations (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyr_

gyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) which sprang up follow_

ing the collapse of the Soviet Union. The combined population of the above

six nations exceeds 60 million, which in itself is equal to over 40 percent of

Russia’s population. Even more important are the six nations’ qualitative

changes and their dynamics.

Within the Russian Federation itself, rapid development can be seen in the

self_awareness of the national elites, including those in the traditionally Mus_

lim republics of the Volga region and the North Caucasus. At the time of the

collapse of the U.S.S.R, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan declared their sover_

eignty, and they de facto claimed a confederative relationship with the rest of

Russia. These claims were later toned down and moderated somewhat, but

they have not been abandoned entirely.

Inside the Russian Federation, the phenomenon of an Islamic renaissance

continues to develop. One part of this rebirth has been the inevitable politiciza_

tion of Islam and the appearance—on both the national and regional levels—of

various Islamic parties and movements which have become (formally or not)

legitimate participants in the political process. These organizations are not only

“instruments of communication” between different Muslim enclaves; they are

also centers for coordinating action within the Russian segment of the Muslim

world, and are as such conduits for the interests of the Muslim communities.

The Islamic factor is both influencing the situation inside Russia as well as

affecting Russia’s foreign policy. Giving this factor special importance is the

fact that the political radicalization of Islam grew stronger at the end of the

twentieth century. In the nations of Central Asia, in the Caucasus, in Afghan_

istan, in the Near East, and in other parts of the Muslim world (including the

Muslim_Christian borderlands), conflicts have been developing in which Is_

lam is one of the most important levers of mobilization, setting major ethnic

and social groups into motion.

These conflicts have in turn left their mark on the military policies of neigh_

boring states, including Russia. For a quarter of a century now (with only

short respites), first Soviet then Russian forces have conducted military oper_

ations against exclusively Muslim troops: in Afghanistan (1979_1989), in

Tajikistan (1992_1993), during the First Chechen campaign (1994_1996), in

Dagestan (1999), and during the Second Chechen campaign (1999_present).

The international anti_terrorist coalition led by the United States (which

Russia joined in the fall of 2001) has also dealt a blow primarily to terrorists

and radicals from the Muslim world. American armed forces are now operat_

ing in Afghan territory and carrying out operations in the areas bordering

Pakistan. U.S. advisers and instructors are training government troops in the

Philippines and in Georgia to combat local Muslim terrorists, and Iraq has

been named the target of a large_scale U.S. military operation. Even exclud_

ing Iran, Palestine, Kashmir, and Xinjiang from the list, it is becoming in_

creasingly clear that the nations which take the lead in dealing with armed

Islamic separatists, terrorists, and other extremists are going to have to

strengthen the non'military dimension of their policies, so that separate con_

flicts are not allowed to mushroom into a clash of civilizations.

In many ways, the war in Chechnya has become a landmark event—a unique

symbol of post_Soviet Russia. Although the Chechen issue had arisen before

the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the Dudayev government declared that it was

seceding from the Russian Federation as early as November 1991, virtually to

the beginning of the first campaign in late 1994 the “Chechen issue” remained

on the periphery of Russia’s political geography. When war finally did break

out, it looked like some kind of theater of the absurd. However in spite of the

torment and suffering of its many victims, for many—both in the Russian

capital and in the hinterlands—the war remained a distant and foreign entity,

seeming at most to provide the material for a never ending television serial.

After the Khasavyurt Truce Agreement (1996) many Russians preferred once

again to forget about Chechnya and all the issues raised by it.

Three years of de facto Chechen independence did not bring peace to ei_

ther Chechnya, the North Caucasus, or to the rest of Russia. In 1999, Rus_

sians were whipped up by an emotional wave of outrage and anger by the in_

vasion of Dagestan by guerrillas from Chechnya, as well as by the terrorist

explosions of apartment blocks in Moscow and other cities. This mood was

reflected not only in the nature and methods of the second Chechen cam_

paign: it played an enormous and possibly decisive role during the parliamen_

tary and presidential elections of winter 1999_spring 2000.

The Chechen issue has crossed over from the twentieth century to the twen_

ty_first. The intensity of military operations has been reduced but the gunfire,

guerrilla raids, and acts of terrorism have not ceased. The number of the war’s

victims continues to grow. Though it may seem to be localized, the war in

Chechnya is a nationwide problem—not least because of the current policy of

universal military service and the practice of ordering militiamen from across

the country to do a tour of duty in the North Caucasus. The further unfolding

of events in the Caucasus and Central Asia will be of substantial importance

in Russia’s subsequent evolution.

We are talking here of transforming an empire into a qualitatively new for_

mation, in two dimensions at once: the domestic (Chechnya, the North Cau_

casus) and the foreign (Central Asia, parts of the Near and Middle East). This

“process” is a difficult one, but it is under way. One can definitively state that

the path to restoring Russia’s Eurasian empire under any name has been closed

off once and for all. Boris Yeltsin’s departure did not lead to any kind of back_

lash or imperialist revanchism. Russia’s second president, Vladimir Putin, is

unquestionably the leader of a national state rather than of an empire. The

main goal of his administration’s policy is the modernization of the country

and from this point of view an empire is an inefficient anachronism.

Russia’s retreat from imperial status is not entirely complete. It turned out

to be easier for both the country’s elites and for the bulk of its population to

give up the Ukraine (including the Crimea and Sevastopol) than to once again

have to integrate the North Caucasus starting entirely from scratch. Along_

side the issues of the national republics making up the Russian Federation,

the problems of Russia’s “colonized” areas—the Far North, the Far East, and

Siberia—remain on the regional policy agenda.

The establishment of Russia as a federation is proceeding with difficulty.

The Soviet totalitarian_centralist model of state structure was replaced in the

1990s by an entity that essentially recalled feudal fragmentation. The pendu_

lum then swung the other way and in 2000 the “recentralization” of the coun_

try’s government was proclaimed, and partially carried out.

It is entirely possible that the so_called “Putin stabilization” will prove an

incubation period for the establishment of new state and social structures.

One cannot expect the eventual rebirth of a unitary Russia. Nevertheless, a

“Russia of regions” (if by this one means a weak confederation in which the

capital is just a place for holding negotiations and making deals) can also hardly

be expected to emerge. Achieving the optimal balance between centralism

and decentralism will depend on the success of Russia’s economic reforms,

and on the socio_political consequences of this success.

In this broad context, the turnabout that has taken place in relations be_

tween Russia and the West following the terrorist attacks on the United States

on September 11, 2001 is important not only from the point of view of foreign

policy. It reflects the country’s internal needs, but it also demands that Russia

reject its customary (but outdated) ideas and ambitions. In this sense, the

historical significance of the changes in Russian foreign policy that have tak_

en place since the fall of 2001 lies in the fact that Moscow has unilaterally

ceased its hopeless and ruinous geopolitical competition with the U.S.A.

At the same time that Russia’s relations with the West—and with Europe

in particular—are assuming an increasingly domestic character (“integration

through transformation”), the future of Russia’s relations with the East will

be determined by two factors. The first of these is the long_term development

of the Russian Far East and Siberia. At the beginning of the twenty_first cen_

tury, this will be Russia’s greatest geopolitical challenge. The second factor is

the dynamic of the processes unfolding in Asia—from India to Japan—which

is increasingly becoming important for its own sake. Having ceased to be the

playing field for the rivalries of foreign powers, Asia is turning out to be an

increasingly interconnected conglomerate of rapidly developing forces, all of

which are at once fiercely competing and closely collaborating with one an_

other. These forces will affect Russia as a European country in Asia.

At the beginning of the twenty_first century, an entirely different set of chal_

lenges and opportunities for Russia is coming from the South, which in this

instance may be conditionally defined as the Caucasus and Central Asia, and

the Near and Middle East. This is not only Russia’s closest external periph_

ery; it is also part of a chain of enclaves inside Russian territory, from the

North Caucasus to the Volga area.

Along this axis, as along others, the challenges and threats of the twenty_

first century are very different from the threats of the nineteenth and twenti_

eth centuries. The “Great Game” of the major powers has lost its previous

meaning. Control over Russia’s traditional border and buffer territories ac_

cording to the tsarist, Soviet, or even the Anglo_Indian models is already quite

impossible. Additionally, under the conditions of economic, financial, and

informational globalization, formal sovereignty or suzerainty is no obstacle to

those who possess superior non'coercive power. According to the new rules, it

is no longer a zero_sum game for either its winners or its losers.

Thus all the “status” participants in international relations—the nation_

states—are losing due to the rise in extremism, radicalism, and terrorism. None

of them is in any position to benefit from the difficulties inherent in the mod_

ernization of Muslim, and especially Arab, societies. The weakness of the new

states, which earlier served as an invitation to domination and which was a

motivating factor in the battle for spheres of influence, has now been trans_

formed into a source of threat not only to the neighbors of such states, but

also in principle to the world community as a whole. The commonality of this

threat is leading to the formation of new alliances in the form of broad coali_

tions. The task, however, is not just to combat successfully the external man_

ifestations of the threat, but eventually to eradicate it entirely. This in turn is

possible only via the transformation, modernization, and democratization of

traditional societies, and via their inclusion in global processes as something

more than mere sources of raw materials.

Harnessing the fuel and energy resources of the Greater Caspian region

and transporting them to the world market can in principle create the materi_

al preconditions for a second wave of modernization in the societies and na_

tions of the South Caucasus and Central Asia. This can also be served by the

opening up of these regions to the U.S., Russia, the European Union, and to

the Asian nations of China and Japan. As a point of illustration, in relations

between Russia itself and the Western nations, energy is becoming one of the

most important links of interdependence.

The success or failure of efforts in Iran to combine Islam, democracy, and

modernization could have enormous consequences for the entire Middle East.

In the long run, democratization built upon the region’s own cultural and

socio_political base will be a most important product if not the very engine of

its modernization. The emergence of a predictable and responsible political

regime in Teheran might be one of the foundations of regional stability.

The sustainability of Russian statehood at the beginning of the twenty_first

century will largely depend on the degree and conditions of the growing Mus_

lim minority’s integration into the framework of Russian society. This is espe_

cially important as the processes of the “further Islamization” of a number of

ethnic groups living in Russia and of the Muslim renaissance will continue

into the foreseeable future. Moreover, such developments in Russia will pro_

ceed parallel to similar processes now under way in the nations of Central

Asia, and in close connection with the development of contemporary Islam’s

hard core.

It is hardly worthwhile to harbor any illusions. The ongoing war in Chech_

nya remains a barrier on Russia’s road into Europe—in the figurative sense

primarily, but also in the literal one. The example of Turkey’s admission into

NATO despite the unresolved “Kurdish issue” is entirely bogus: that decision

was made in 1952 in the context of the Cold War, and under the conditions of

Stalin’s continuous attempts to pressure the Turks. In other words, it was an

example of geopolitics. It would be much more useful and instructive for Rus_

sians to examine the sadder experience of Turkey_EU relations.

The prospects for resolving the Chechen issue remain hazy. A dead_end

situation was reached in Chechnya after the year 2000. Despite incessant guer_

rilla raids, acts of sabotage, and the growing number of war casualties, the

Russian authorities are not about to withdraw their troops from the republic

this time. There will be no new Khasavyurt Agreement. At the same time,

foisting Moscow’s version of a “settlement” onto the Chechens will prove

equally fruitless. On the Kremlin’s initiative, the republic’s constitution may

be ratified, elections may be held under the control of the army, and represen_

tative organs of government may be formed from loyal Chechens, but this in

and of itself will not give the authorities legitimacy in the eyes of the popula_

tion. The Chechen elites must instead be pushed toward a settlement and to

finally agreeing, before their own society, to assume responsibility for the re_

public. Defining the character and form of future relations between the Fed_

eration and Chechnya is a matter for the next stage of development. The most

important thing here from the perspective of Russia’s interests, is guarantee_

ing national and regional security. Achieving this goal without the Chechens’

cooperation will be impossible.

This presents Russia with at least two challenges. First, there is the chal_

lenge of multiculturalism. Second, there is the need to harmonize Muslim

cultural autonomy with the European model of development of Russia as a


Little Chechnya is in a sense becoming a microcosm for all, or nearly all of

these problems. Russia cannot become a modern, prosperous, and demo_

cratic state so long as the Chechen knot remains tangled. Significantly, the

opposite is also true: genuine reforms in Russia will have a positive effect on

the prospects for untangling that knot.

Фонд Карнеги за Международный Мир является неправительствен_

ной, внепартийной, некоммерческой организацией со штаб_кварти_

рой в Вашингтоне (США). Фонд был основан в 1910 г. Эндрю Карнеги

для проведения исследований в области международных отношений.

Фонд не пользуется какой_либо финансовой поддержкой со стороны

государства и не связан ни с одной из политических партий в США

или за их пределами. Деятельность Фонда Карнеги заключается в вы_

полнении намеченных его специалистами программ исследований,

организации дискуссий, подготовке и выпуске тематических изданий,

информировании широкой общественности по различным вопросам

внешней политики и международных отношений.

Сотрудниками Фонда Карнеги за Международный Мир являются

эксперты, которые используют в своей практике богатый опыт в раз_

личных областях деятельности, накопленный ими за годы работы в

государственных учреждениях, средствах массовой информации, уни_

верситетах, международных организациях. Фонд не представляет точ_

ку зрения какого_либо правительства и не стоит на какой_либо идео_

логической или политической платформе, поэтому спектр взглядов его

сотрудников довольно широк.

Московский Центр Карнеги создан в 1993 г. с целью реализации

широких перспектив сотрудничества, которые открылись перед науч_

ными и общественными кругами США, России и новых независимых

государств после окончания периода «холодной войны». В рамках про_

граммы по России и Евразии, реализуемой одновременно в Вашинг_

тоне и Москве, Центр Карнеги осуществляет широкую программу об_

щественно_политических и социально_экономических исследований,

организует открытые дискуссии, ведет издательскую деятельность.

Основу деятельности Московского Центра Карнеги составляют цик_

лы семинаров по проблемам нераспространения ядерных и обычных

вооружений, российско_американских отношений, внутренней и

внешней политики России, по вопросам безопасности, а также поли_

тических и экономических преобразований на постсоветском про_