Woe to he who inhabits the in-between, for his fate is not his own but is determined by the strength of his neighbors. So it is with the Caucasus, the land that sits at the intersection of Russia, Turkey, Iran and their historical empires.
More than a highway and battleground, the Caucasus is a borderland, which means that it plays a far outsize role in world history relative to its size and population (about 16 million). For 100 years, the oil reserves in Azerbaijan made the Soviet Union a continental and then a global power. The largest battle in human history in terms of number of people involved and killed, Stalingrad was the Soviet Union’s last stand against Hitler’s attempt to reach those oil resources to starve the Soviet military machine of its ability to wage war. It was Stalin – a Georgian, not a Russian – who seized control of the Soviet Union in 1922, setting the stage for events that defined the 20th century.
It was also the Caucasus that showe