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A political map showing the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) in Asia and North Caucasus (Ciscaucasia) in Europe

The Kremlin’s Chechen factor

The latest violent chapter in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has rebalanced geopolitical realities in the South Caucasus. Turkey has made significant progress in expanding its role there. Even more disturbingly for the Kremlin, the 2020 war has been associated with a surge in radical political Islam that threatens to spill over into the highly combustive North Caucasus. Russia’s security system there is fragile and costly, as it largely hinges on the rule of a Chechen warlord.

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