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The security situation in North Caucasus and the energy factor By Ioannis Vichos and Sotirios Karampampas*

The following analysis is going to examine the importance of the region for Russia, the security predicament and the reasons against a Russian retreat from the theater of the North Caucasus. The oncoming arguments could not convince those complaining of the waste of resources to reform the new district, but they have a certain plausibility. Firstly, if Russia no longer would have possessed Chechnya and generally the whole North Caucasus, this region would fall to the direct control either of Georgia or Azerbaijan, and eventually would pass under the USAs influencethereby enhancing the power and prestige of those who desire the separation of the region of Russia. Moreover, there is the argument that a definite and efficient solution of the problem would avoid the penetration of external actors in the Caspian region, the soft under belt of the Russian Federation. Finally, there is the domino theory that if Chechnya were lost, so also be Dagestan, the Caspian coast of Russia, Ingushetia, and the other republics of the Northern Caucasus Federal District. Hence, Russia's determination and persistence to triumph in North Caucasus, is a necessity, whatever the cost might be in terms of life or money. The North Caucasus Federal District The area of North Caucasus has been one of the most important fronts of Russian foreign policy at least since the day of Great Romanovs. Today, the region politically consists of two districts (1). Actually, the North Caucasus region is included in two of the eight Federal Districts of Russian Federation, namely the North Caucasus Federal District (2): Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Stavropol and the South Federal District: Adygea, Astrakhan, Kalmykia, Krasnodar, Rostov, Volgograd.

North Caucasus Federal District


The North Caucasus has been fundamental for the countrys energy and security agenda, as no one could downplay its strategic significance for Russia. Without a doubt, the North Caucasus can be identified structurally as a conflict-prone zone, where two vicious wars and numerous conflicts have taken place. In fact, a year after the metro station terrorist attack and three months after the attack at the Domodedovo airport, in Moscow, the situation in the new North Caucasus Federal District remains unstable. Actually, with Chechnya as the epicenter of violence due to the wars of 1994-1996 and 1999-2000 (3), hostilities and conflicts have largely spread to the neighboring republics. Twelve years after the explosion of the second Chechen war a number of commentators claim that not only has it not ended, but that also a ceasefire seems to be unattainable (4). What has started as a war of independence of Chechnya against Russia in 1994, has now turned into a diffused and multifaceted insurgency where a series of overlapping conflicts coexist and interrelate (5). According to OLoughlin and Witmer, three different types of conflict can be identified today in North Caucasus(6): i) a nationalist struggle against Russian rule, with Chechnya as the spring-board of diffusion to the other republics, ii) a confrontation between different ethnic groups over traditionally disputed territories, and iii) a clash between the Russian authorities and a religious radicalized militancy, which has as its ultimate goal the establishment of a Islamic caliphate in all the republics of North Caucasus(7).

As a matter of fact nowadays the security situation is considerably problematic, as the area of conflict has greatly expanded and the number of attacks has been multiplied. More to the point, the expansion of the disorder can be easily illustrated by the fact that violence had reached 32 districts in 2005 whereas only 11 districts had experienced attack in 1999 (8). Indeed, the attacks has been expanding, from Ingushetia in 2009 (9) and Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan in 2010 (10), to Karachai-Cherkessia, which is currently considered the next North Caucasus hot spot (11). In 2010, 22 terrorist attacks have taken place in Moscow and in Northern Caucasus, in which 108 people were killed and more than 652 were injured (12). Russian policy in the area is considered largely ineffective (13), given the endurance of the phenomenon, more than a decade after the launching of the counterterrorist campaign to free Chechnya from international terrorists and extremists as was declared in 1999 by the former President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (14). Russian heavy handedness that took the form of a scorched earth policy implemented first against the Chechens and then against the other Caucasian nationalities appears to have exacerbated the security predicament (15). Moreover, the policy of normalisation, which was introduced with Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, and the relatively recent Khloponin project (16), have not met the expectations of Russia, according to President Dmitry Medveved himself (17). Despite the fact that violence is unlikely to reach the levels of 1994-1996 and 1999-2000 periods, the security situation remains seriously unstable since the region has settled into (seemingly) permanent low-level hostilities between the power ministries and a myriad of oppositionists(18), namely between the advocates of Russian domination in the area and their various opponents (separatists, Islamists and entrepreneurs of violence)(19). Consequently, the pressure on the Russian government to find a solution in the North Caucasus problem has been intensified, especially in view of a growing minority of specialists that is considering the possibility of a potentional separation of Russia from the North Caucasus (20).

The energy security parameter and the geopolitics of pipelines


Despite the view that North Caucasus should be separated from Russia, the reality of Russian politics makes this kind of thoughts impossible. Nonetheless Russia faces a number of security challenges in the Black Sea-Caspian region where is a real concern that crude oil and natural gas pipelines running through autonomous republics may be sabotaged by rebel groups. Transit regions could also illegally tap into the pipelines to satisfy their own energy needs. Legal and environmental issues may further complicate the picture concerning energy transportation. Disputes over the legal status of the Caspian Sea have made it difficult for the five littoral states to apportion the seabed among themselves. The governments of Iran and Turkmenistan have clashed with the authorities in Azerbaijan over the ownership of specific oilfields in the Caspian Sea. These disagreements have so far prevented the laying of subsea pipelines across the Caspian Sea. Energy transit through the highly volatile north and south Caucasus remains a potentially serious security risk (21), as it was exemplified during the Chechen wars and the Southern Ossetian crisis of 2008. In the north Caucasus, the conflict between the Russian forces and Chechen guerrillas shows no signs of abating, while radicalized and violent Islamic groups are aiming to destabilize other regions neighboring Chechnya. The Chechen conflict forced Moscow to build in 2000 a new oil pipeline bypassing Chechnya through Daghestan, in order to connect Baku with the Russian Black Sea port of Novorrossisk. The Chechnya bypass of the Baku-Novorrossisk oil pipeline Putin's first job when he was appointed Prime Minister on 9 August 1999 by President Boris Yeltsin was to build the bypass line of Chechnya, as Transneft, Russia's pipeline monopoly, controlled the Baku-Novorrossisk line, the sole export route for Azeri "early" oil exports, which crossed through 160 km of Chechen territory (22). Work began on the bypass line on 26 October 1999. The BakuNovorrossisk pipeline was rerouted, through Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. The total length of the Baku-Novorrossisk pipeline is 1,411 km, while its throughput capacity is 140.000 barrels per day (tb/d) or 7 Million Tons per Year (MT/Y). The pipeline diameter is 720 mm. A section of the pipeline known as the Makhachkala-Novorrossisk is used for the transit of Turkmen and Kazakh oil, after it is delivered to the port of Makhachkala

by tankers (23). The second Chechen war reduced Azeri exports via BakuNovorrossisk in early 2000 to an average of only 10,000 b/d. In April 2000 construction was completed on the $140 million, 250 km Chechen bypass via Dagestan to Tikhoretsk, with a technical capacity of 120,000 b/d (24). However, since 2000, Dagestan is suffering attacks from Chechen insurgents and Islamic extremists thereby endangering the security of the bypass pipeline.


The current situation of the Northern Route Azerbaijan in the past decade was not really interested to export the amount agreed with Russia in 1997(25), which resulted in a yearly decrease of Azeri oil being transported through Baku-Novorossiysk as other pipeline routes were developed, such as Baku-Supsa (1999) and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (2005). In comparison with the latter two routes, the former eventually became less beneficial to export oil. However, it has to be emphasized that the northern route remains important (26) for Azerbaijan as an alternative route to export its oil, something that was proven during the Russian5

Georgian war of August 2008 and during the summer of 2009 when the BTC pipeline exploded (27). Russias determination When the first Chechen war erupted in 1994 (28), many foreign observers were baffled why Moscow, which had peacefully let the Soviet Union implode, was so determined to hang on to Chechnya, a small poor mountainous region in the Caucasus measuring only 30 by 70 miles. Oil dominated the equation from the outset. Firstly, despite the official embargo against Dudayevs regime following the proclamation of Chechnyas independence, Russia continued to supply with oil (29) the three major refineries(30) of Grozny; however as the situation was aggravated the republics oil installations felt to the control of criminal elements. As a result of the above, the construction of the aforementioned bypass was the only solution for Russia in order to avoid this predicament (31). Secondly, in May 2007 the US Energy Information Administration projected that by 2015, Caspian oil production could reach 4.3 million bpd in addition to the region's proven reserves of 17-49 billion barrels. An independent Chechnya could not only lead to a loss of revenue from the republic's modest oil production (32) and ruin the plans to extract transit fees for Azeri "early oil," but could also result in a potentially significant loss of Caspian reserves once the sea's waters and seabed were divided (33). The Caspians legal status and the role of Dagestan for Russia The demise of the USSR opened up an endless discussion over the Caspian's legal status, previously regulated under the USSR-Persia Treaty of 26 February 1921 and the 25 March 1940 USSR-Iran Treaty (34). In the place of the USSR and Iran there were now five Caspian littoral states, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, which began wrangling immediately over the Caspian's division. Two opposing positions quickly developed - Russia insisted that the Caspian's waters and seabed should be divided according to coastal length, while Iran (35) held out for an equitable 20 percent division for each of the five littoral states. Under the Russian formula, Azerbaijan, with 259.1 miles of coastline, would have receive 15.2 percent of the Caspian's waters and seabed, Iran with 319.1 miles of coast - 18.7 percent,

Kazakhstan, with 526.4 miles of coastline, would have received the largest share, 30.8 percent of the Caspian, leaving Russia with its 315 miles of shore at 18.5 percent of the Caspian, and Turkmenistan's 285.4 miles of coast giving it a 16.8 percent share. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan soon supported the Kremlin's stance, while Turkmenistan under its leader Sapamurat Niyazov wavered between Moscow and Tehran (36). Most members of the Russian political elite identified Chechnya all along as the prime source of tension, a haven of terrorism, and a geopolitical threat. Chechen expansion, they felt, was aimed at creating a Grozny-dominated Islamic mountainous confederacy from the Caspian to the Black Sea, which would have isolated effectively Russia from both. Dagestan was considered to be the first target of this expansion. Indeed, after the first Chechen war erupted in 1994 and began to spill over into neighboring Dagestan, a number of the more radical Chechen guerrillas like Shamil Basayev eventually declared their intention to create a unitary northern Caucasian Chechen-Dagestani Muslim state. Under Russia's own definition of future division of the Caspian offshore waters and seabed - supported by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and to a lesser extent Turkmenistan, as opposed to Iran's formulation, -Dagestan, with its 249 miles of Caspian coast, would have pared Russia's shoreline nearly back to the Volga delta, leaving it a paltry 66 miles of coastline and would shrink its offshore share under Moscow's own formula by four-fifths, from 18.5 to 3.92 percent (37). *Sotirios Karampampas is a Researcher. Graduate of University of Bradford, Department of Peace Studies, MA in International Politics and Security.

(1)Russia Federation consists of 83 federal subjects, which are: 21 republics, 46 oblasts (provinces), 9 krais (terrirories), 1 autonomous oblast (autonomous province), 4 autonomous okrugs (autonomous districts), and 2 federal cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg). (Source: (2)As a strategic move to enhance the control of the region, the Russian President, Dmitry

Medvedev, decided to establish on January 19, 2010, the new North Caucasus Federal District with the capital in Pyatigorsk, and appointed the former governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, Alexander Khloponin, as its presidential envoy. (Source Ria Novosti:
(Source: no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=37324&tx_ttnews[backPid]=514:) 7

(3)According to those claiming that Ramzan Kadyrovs appointment as president in Chechnya signaled the end of the second war, the ceasefire date is the year of 2006 with the use from the Russian side of theChechenizationpolicy, understood[as] the delegation of power (including separatist insurgents) from the federal centre in Moscow to approved officials in Chechnya who support Kremlin policies , Russell, J. (2008), Ramzan Kadyrov: The Indigenous Key to Success in Putins Chechenization, Nationalities Papers, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 659-687. (4)O'Loughlin, J. & Witmer, F.D. (2011), The Localized Geographies of Violence in the North Caucasus of Russia, 1999-2007', Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 101, no. 1, p. 178. (5)Russell, J. (2007), Chechnya - Russias War on Terror, Abingdon, Routledge, p. 67. (6)O'Loughlin, J. & Witmer, F.D. (2011), op. cit. (7)For a review of North Caucacain militancy see Hahn, G. M. (2008), The Jihadi insurgency and the Russian counterinsurgency in the North Caucasus, Post-Soviet Affairs, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 139. (8)Lyall, J. M. K. (2006), Landscapes of violence: A comparative study of insurgency in the North Caucasus, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, p. 16. (9)Vatchagaev, M. (2011a), Moscows Position in the North Caucasus Worsened Dramatically in 2010, Eurasia Daily Monitor, vol. 8, no. 4. no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=37609&tx_ttnews[backPid]=514. (10)Dzutsev, V. (2011a), Government Helpless as Rebels Expand Operations in KabardinoBalkaria, North Caucasus Analysis, vol. 12, no. 5. no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=37572&tx_ttnews[backPid]=514. (11)Vatchagaev, M. (2011b), "Is Karachaevo-Cherkessia the Next North Caucasus Hot Spot?, North Caucasus Analysis, vol. 12, no. 5. no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=37593&tx_ttnews[backPid]=514. (12)Vatchagaev, M. (2011c), The Separation of the North Caucasus from Russia: Is it A Growing Possibility?, Eurasia Daily Monitor, vol. 8, no. 38.[tt_news]=37557. (13)Dzutsev, V. (2011b), Russias Grand Vision for the Development of North Caucasus Remains Unrealistic, North Caucasus Analysis, vol. 12, no. 3.[tt_news]=37450. (14)Putin, V. V. (2000a), News Conference Following Russian - British Talks, London, April 17, 2000. (15)In fact, Russia has launched an anti-terror operation that took the form of an all-out war, in view of the repeated use of tactics such as the zachistkas (sweeping operations), disappearances, rapes, extrajudicial executions and torture use of concentrations camps, the indiscriminate bombing of Chechen villages, and the use of non-conventional weapons. See Wilhelmsen, J. (2005), Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Islamisation of the Chechen Separatist Movement, Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 35-59. (16)As a strategic move to enhance the control of the region, the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, decided to establish on January 19, 2010, the new North Caucasus Federal District with the capital in Pyatigorsk, and appointed the former governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, Alexander Khloponin, as its presidential envoy. (Source Ria Novosti: (17)Vatchagaev, M. (2011a), op. cit. (18)O'Loughlin, J. & Witmer, F.D. (2011), op. cit., p. 197. (19)Namely those in North Caucasus, indigenous and Russians that have great economic benefits for the continuation of the conflicts as they are taking part in several illegal practices. (See Russell, J. (2007), op. cit., p. 3.) 8

(20)Frolov, V. - Belaeff, V. - Burger, E. Lozansky, E. (2010), Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Is Moscow Losing the War on Terror in the Caucasus?, Russia Profile, Experts Panel, 10/29/2010. (21)Winrow, G. M. (2005), Energy Security in the Black Sea-Caspian Region, Perceptions, vol. X, Autumn 2005, p.89-90. (22)Gokay, B. (2001), The Politics of Caspian Oil, Palgrave, New York, p.205. (23) (24) (25)The Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline has been involved in exporting the Azerbaijani oil since 1998 having contracted amount of annual transfer equal to 5mn tons. (Source: (26)By results of the first quarter 2011, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan exported 541,536 tons of oil through Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline, an increase by 92,756 tons on January-March 2010. In 2010, SOCAR exported 2,240,000 tons of oil through the BakuNovorossiisk pipeline, a drop by 239,000 tons on 2009. For 2011, SOCAR plans to export 2m tons of oil by this route. In 2009, the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline exported 2,479,000 tons of oil. Oil export by the northern route has increased by 1,283,000 tons over 2008. (Source: (27) (28)Despite the fact that hostilities had already started in 1991, the main acts of war hadnt taken place before 1994. (29)The vast amount of inputs from oil was equal to 65% of total revenues of Chechnya in 1993. (Source: Kleveman, L. (2005), The New Great Game: blood and oil in Central Asia, Kritiki, Athens, p. 94). (30)One of the legacies of the Chechen oil industry was its large refining capacity, which has since been destroyed by war. Ironically the Grozny refinery, the largest in the former Soviet Union, was unsuitable for Chechen oil, which had to be shipped to a special refinery in Tuapse on the Russian Black Sea coast. (Source: Kaldor, M. - Lynn Karl, T. - Said, T. (2007), Oil Wars, Pluto Press, London, p.131). (31) (32)In a distant past Chechnya used to be the second largest oil producer in the Soviet Union after Azerbaijan. In the 1970s Chechnya produced 21.5 million tonnes of oil per year falling to 6 million immediately before the war. Today, official output stands at less than 2 million tonnes per year, or 40,000 bbl/d.2 Illegal extraction is estimated at anywhere between an official estimate of 100,000 and 2 million tonnes per year. (Source: Kaldor, M. - Lynn Karl, T. - Said, T. (2007),op. cit., p.131). (33) lng=en&id=126470&contextid734=126470&contextid735=126466&tabid=126466 (34) (35)Iran does not recognize, nor accepts agreements (based on the littoral size of every country) signed between Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan on the Caspian Sea littoral states because in this way (Iran gets 18%) stays out of the area which is rich in oil. Iran supports the 20% division of the Caspian Sea in order to get access to the rich region which now is under the control of Azerbaijan. (Source: Philippe Sebille-Lopez, P. (2007), Gopolitiques du ptrole, Armand Colin, Paris, p. 192). (36) (37) lng=en&id=126470&contextid734=126470&contextid735=126466&tabid=126466