Staunton, November 18 – Between 2007 and 2015, Russian government figures show, Moscow transferred in subsidies, subventions and aid some 60 billion rubles – roughly one billion US dollars -- every year to Chechnya, Russian journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov reports (echo.msk.ru/programs/nevsredy/2314491-echo/).
That has given the powers that be in the Kremlin “the pure luxury” of being able to say that “’there is no war with the Caucasus today,’” he adds; but with tensions in that region again on the rise and indications that Moscow is in far less good a position to control things increasing, it has clear that Moscow has not bought more than that.
Instead, Nevzorov continues, it has allowed Chechnya to rebuild its military capacity among other things; and in the event of a new war, he says, those forces will be used to “smash poor Russia into smithereens.” That is certainly an exaggeration, but his comments reflect a growing sense among Russians that in the Caucasus, they haven’t gotten what they’ve paid for.
This doesn’t mean that the Kremlin will stop funding Ramzan Kadyrov at this rate: the powers that be in the Russian capital clearly have concluded that they have no choice but to continue on as they have. But it does mean two other things that could matter just as much in the current environment.
On the one hand, ever more Russians will certainly conclude that Putin is putting the Chechens ahead of them at a time when they are facing increasing economic stringency; and on the other, at least some non-Russians elsewhere may conclude that they might be able to hold Moscow hostage in the same way if they behaved as the Chechens have.