The "Chechen Problem"—-how the Chechen conflicts have shaped Russian domestic and foreign security perspectives
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A resurgent Russia and the threat of extremist ideology are two major topics currently facing the international community. For Russia, both issues have arisen simultaneously within the Russian republic of Chechnya. While the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 triggered calls for independence among various groups in Russia, the case of the Chechen Republic can reveal unique characteristics of Russia’s perspective on its domestic and international security position. This thesis aims to emphasize the importance of the impact of the Chechen Wars on the evolution of Russia’s security perspective. I will show that Russia’s experiences with Chechnya in the First and Second Chechen Wars have influenced its attitudes towards security on both a domestic and international scale. My thesis will add to the discussion on Russia’s security evolution by bringing the case of Chechnya as an additional element to be used in the analysis of Russia’s perspective of itself, thereby adding to scholarship on the shaping of modern Russia. The following thesis, broken up into four sections, will discuss the lessons learned by Russia throughout the Chechen Wars. It will also analyze the ways in which the lessons from Chechnya have been applied to specific events, or to the trajectory of Russia more generally, both domestically and internationally. Throughout, I argue that Russia’s experiences with Chechnya have played a key role in shaping Russia’s current security mentality. While the lessons learned from Chechnya are the basis of my argument, I include circumstantial points that reference Russia’s vulnerability as a new nation, as well as the rise of Vladimir Putin. As a result, I will also challenge current scholarship that has downplayed Chechnya as a central component in the development of Russia’s modern security strategy. As a disclaimer, my paper does not seek to address all components of Russian security perspectives, strategy, or of the Chechen conflicts. Rather, it offers a unique lens upon which to view Russian perspectives on domestic and foreign security. In attempts to construct a concise argument, not all of the necessary elements of the Chechen conflict or its impact can be addressed. However, the essence of my thesis paper will be to argue that, by better understanding Chechnya’s history with Russia, it is possible to better understand Russia.
Honors thesis. B.A. in International Relations, Spring 2021, Boston University.
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