Written in the hours after the Boston bombing my short blog post Russia’s Green Light was finished before any thorough or thoughtful examinations of motives or background of the bombing and its suspects had occurred,
Since then, the connections between the Tsarnaev brothers, Chechen violence, Russian politics and radical Islam have become some of the primary avenues of investigation; with the trip taken by the elder Tsarnaev back to Russia becoming a focal point of the quest to understand how and why the Boston bombings occurred. The fact the Russians were surveying the Tsarnaevs and requested information from the Americans intelligence services as early as 2011 about their possible radicalization and ties to Chechen militant groups may show a disconnect between the two countries. Whether the American intelligence services missed something is a matter that will likely be investigated for years to come but it is this same disconnect and apathy that America/Americans feel for the Chechan struggle (Czech vs Chechen) that opens the door to a heavy handed response by Russia to any potential terrorist activity in the lead up to next year Olympics.
In light of the revelation that the two Boston Marathon bombing terrorists were of Chechen ancestry, does this give President Putin a green light to finally crush the simmering rebellion in the region?
After two wars in the breakaway Russian state from 1994-1996 and from 1999-2009 the region has fallen into an uneasy peace for the past couple year. This peace hasn’t halted the ongoing terrorist campaign by separatist organizations striking at targets both inside Chechyna and in Russia as a whole.
With the 2014 Sochi Olympics quickly approaching President Putin who’s hardline on Chechen terrorist/rebels will want to ensure no threat is presented for the upcoming games. Should the Boston brothers be traced back to a specific Chechen organization will the Russians use this to crackdown on terror organizations in Chechnya and the bases that they use in surrounding states?
For decades the United States has intentionally avoided confronting Russia on the Chechen issue. The standard response from the US government has been calling for “peaceful resolution” to the conflict in the region, while condemning human rights violations by both Russian military/government forces and Chechen rebel organizations. The question moving forward is whether the US chooses to engage the Russians on the Chechen issue? Will the US turn a blind eye if the Russians decide to crackdown on these organizations and individuals in the run up to the 2014 Winter Games? It is probably too early to say one way or another to how Russia will react to this situation but that reaction will determine the stability of the entire Caucasus region.