In last week’s Deep Dive on the South Caucasus, we explained how the region’s unforgiving, mountainous terrain has served as both borderland and battleground for empires. This Deep Dive will focus on the North Caucasus, the relatively flat region above the Greater Caucasus mountain range whose terrain has made it vulnerable to Russian domination. Moving forward, however, the weakening of Russia and the re-emergence of political Islam means the region will likely pose a security threat to the Kremlin.
In sharp contrast with the South Caucasus, the North Caucasus is not composed of separate sovereign states. Instead the North Caucasus is an integral part of Russia, divided between two of the Russian Federation’s eight districts – the North Caucasian Federal District and the Southern Federal District. Most of the region belongs to the North Caucasian district, which split from the Southern district in 2010, a year after the end of the Second Chechen