The Caucasus Region

The Region of Caucasus represents a portion of territory between Caspian and Black Sea, where are located Caucasus Mountains, with the highest point on Elbrus (5642 m) where according to the legend, the titan Prometheus was enchained at the order of Zeus, after he had given the fire to the mortals. He had to support the attack of the eagle of Zeus which had eaten daily portions of his liver (the liver regenerated during the night), until Herakles killed with some of his arrows the eagle and Prometheus went in the Underworld. This legend remembers the status of the Region of Caucasus where the conflict it is a daily reality.

The Caucasus Region - GEOPOLITICA.info

At the north of the Caucasus Mountains is located the North Caucasus, a large plain which continues until the end of Volga and Don rivers. In the south of the mountains chain, is located Transcaucasia an area grilled by some small chains of mountains.

The Caucasus Mountains Chain is 1100 km long. The entire region of Caucasus has a surface of 145,000 km2 and has in wide 180 km nearby the Elbrus Mountain. The population concentrated in the Mountain Caucasus Chain was estimated in 1983 at 1,25 millions, but the number is in a decreasing direction. Occupations are especially in agriculture and herd animal growing.

The region had important resources in oil (South Caucasus), natural gases (North Caucasus). There is an important oil pipe which ties Novorossiysk with the Eastern Shore of the Black Sea. The region has a soil which ensure a higher productivity of textile plants, tobacco.

The Caucasus Mountains have some entrances (passes) which ensured during the time the communication between West and East during the entire history.

Inside the borders of the Russian Federation (in the North Caucasus) are located some autonomous republics: Karachevo – Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Northern Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechenia, Dagestan.  This enumeration is made as looking from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. Only Northern Ossetia has a Christian majority, the other four republics are dominated by the Muslim faith.

This chain of mountains ensures the officially frontier between the Russian Federation and some republics from the southern Caucasus as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia.

The geopolitical confrontation had the same orientation form the Ancient and Medieval times. Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, would to go from South-West to the North-East. The Huns, Arabs, Persians would to make an expansion from South-East to the North-West.

In the Modern and Contemporary Ages, the geopolitical evolutions are on the same directions: the Czarist Russia, the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation would an advance to the South, NATO to the North-East, Iraq, Iran, terrorist organisation DAESH would to expand to the North-West.

The most significant forces in the History were the Mongols and the Russians. Czars form Ivan IV to the Peter the Great and Catherine the Great conducted an efficient politics of dominating the Caucasus area, confronting with the strong resistance of the Muslin population. After the World War II, the Soviet Union led by Joseph Stalin succeeded to occupy the region, using two models: the enclave system and the mass-deportations. The first model was developed by Stalin after he had accomplished the task of People Commissioner for Nationalities (Ministry for Nationality) in the Bolshevik Government after 1922, when he worked at a linguistically map of nationalities from the Soviet Russia (Soviet Union after 1922). Joseph Stalin would to ensure to the Southern Caucasus an image of an conflictual and ethnical” puzzle”. It is a typical ”Matrioșka” system used by Stalin.

The second model was used by Stalin, after 1924, when Lenin died and he took the complete power in the Soviet Union. The deportation was used for eliminating the “people’s enemies, in the same measure individuals and peoples”. The reason for making deportations of peoples from Caucasus was the collaboration with the German invader forces of Muslin population. It was very difficult to prove this implication, but nobody could make opposition to Stalin in the Soviet Union.

Caucasus is a geopolitical area in the geopolitical neighbourhood of the European Union which has a part of its Eastern frontier on the Western shore of the Black Sea. NATO has inside its area the Western and the Southern shore of the Black Sea (ensured by the NATO membership of Turkey). Caucasus is an instable region on the Eastern part of the Black Sea, situation which contributes to the geopolitical instability in the Black Sea Region. The Caucasus is also considered as a projection of the” Balkan powder barrel” form the end of the XIX-th century.

During 1991-2009, there were violent and military confrontations between rebels from Chechenia who would like to proclaim the independence of the republic and Russian Federation troops. Until his death in a bomb attack of the Russian aviation, the leader of Chechenia was general Djokhar Dudaev. The rebels used terrorist attacks in 2002 (Dubrovka theatre), 2004 (Beslan school), Boston attack from 2013 and an invasion in Dagestan republic, led by Shamil Basaev.

We must present also the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno Karabach from 1992 to 1994.

The confrontation had alternative results until 2000, when at Moscow, the new figure Vladimir Putin, became Prime Minister and in the spring of the same year President of the Russian Federation.

Vladimir Putin learned in school of KGB that a cowboy can extinguish the fire in the bush, sparking another smaller fire, which it extinguished the great one, if he knew to steer it using air currents.

In Georgia two enclaves, Southern Ossetia and Abkhazia, claimed the help of the Russian Federation for self-determination. As Georgia advanced in its negotiations with EU and NATO, was invaded by the Russian forces, for helping the two enclaves. Georgia was then considered as politicallyunstable and ethnicallyunconsolidated structure, unable to be one day the Eastern frontier for EU and NATO.

At least it can be interpreted why Russia warned the international community that the Islamic State had to gain the control of ground positions in the North Caucasus. Basically, Vladimir Putin wants to show the West that Russians related with Muslim communities since the time of the Czars. He wants to say that instead of being punished, Russia should be helped, or at least not left alone. Given the issues with Chechnya, Abkhazia, Ingushetia and Ossetia,Vladimir Putin claimed Russia should have a free hand. Putin raises the security issue, arguing that the civilian population is attracted by the Islamic State, endangering directly or indirectly NATO, the EU or the US.

Putin repeats the same rhetoric used since the era of Peter the Great, who made the first expedition to the Caucasus, accompanied by former ruler Cantemir, that Russia has for centuries been the first power struggled with Islam, not for nothing with the nickname of “Third Rome “, obviously after the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire.

According to the same sources, over 1,700 Russian and 300 Tajiks have joined the Islamic State. Nearby, the Caucasus Emirate terrorist organization operates. In 2015, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in which Russia has a dominant role, completed its work session.  Along China, Russia imposed to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan to take the initiative of creating a common information system, to make a joint front against the danger posed by Islamic State.

In the last period, USA tried to counterattack the politics of the EU and Russian Federation playing ”the energetical card”, consolidating the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipe for blocking the Baku-Constanta-Trieste pipe, the European project, having a strategically advance in front of the Russian Federation.

In May 2015, the Russian Federation has engaged 12,000 soldiers and 250 fighters into new manoeuvers conducted in western, central and southern Russia. In the autumn of 2015, in the Urals, in both the European and the Asian sides, Russian Federation initiated an exercise in which they were involved 95 000 troops.

In August 2016, the Russian Federation has initiated extensive military manoeuvers in the Black Sea (15 ships of the Black Sea Fleet) and Caspian (10 ships of the Fleet Caspian), “in order to check the level of combat readiness of the Russian Armed Forces “according to news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti. They were involved 4,000 soldiers and 300 units of military equipment under both Russian fleet.

There are the responses of the Russian Federation to the NATO manoeuvres on the Baltic Sea and on the Black Sea, in 2014 and 2016 and to the NATO attempts to create military structures with human and technical resources at the Eastern frontier of the Alliance, considered by the Russians as being” to close to the Russian soil”.