Crisis in the Caucasus

Foreign Affairs (review of Matthew Evangelista, The Chechen Wars)

A New Look at Russia’s Chechen Impasse

“It is hard to think of a more likely pair of candidates for historical enmity than the Russian government and the Chechens. In the nineteenth century, Russia’s expansion into the Caucasus was slowed by the opposition of local mountain peoples, of whom the Chechens were among the most fierce. Vicious frontier wars raged for much of the century and ended with the death or forced migration of hundreds of thousands of highlanders. The Chechens were targeted again in 1944, when the Soviet government packed off the entire nation, as many as half a million people, to Central Asia for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis. They were “rehabilitated” only in 1957, when they were allowed to return in diminished numbers to their autonomous republic in the northeastern Caucasus.”