The conflict in Chechnya between the Chechens and Russia is driven by two distinct national outlooks. The Chechens collective viewpoint is focused on “nationalism and having to defend their land against foreign invaders which over the centuries has molded their character (Yevsyukova, 2).” The Russians were focused on expanding their national borders in order to secure the Russian homeland with a combination of military actions and settlement of Russians, such as Cossacks, to secure Chechen lands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Yevsyukova, 2-3).to reign in the Chechens and other Caucasus ethnic groups. These ethnic groups continuously resisted the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union’s continuous (over 200 years) pacification efforts to ensure complete control over Chechnya (Yevsyukova, 2-3). In these circumstances, the opportunities for both Chechens and Russians to directly negotiate, or willingness to allow third party mediators to resolve this situation without violence is limited.
There are possibilities for the Chechens and Russians differences in positions on the status of Chechnya to be resolved without violence. For any non-violent methods of engagement to begin both sides will have to rely on citizens, politicians, religious leaders, and scholars with an understanding of the opposing sides positions. Doctor Reza Najafbagy’s article, Problems of Effective Cross-Cultural Communication and Conflict Resolution, identifies “Co-orientation of any effort that may be necessary to familiarize and train an individual in the life, work, social and political relations, norms, values, traditions, religion and other aspects of one’s own culture and those of other concerned nations (146).” At its most basic level “co-orientation” identifies a level of knowledge and understanding not only of your own country’s culture and history, but also your adversary’s culture and history in order to facilitate cross-cultural communication to encourage discussion, mediation, and negotiation instead of violent conflict resolution methods. There is a large nationalist aspect to both the Chechen and Russian nations cultural viewpoints demonstrating violence is almost always utilized as the first, second, third, and forth method for conflict resolution.
These similar perspectives regarding Chechnya’s status as either an independent country (Chechens) or autonomous republic within the Russian Federation (Russian) as “instead of using a nonviolent mix of power strategies the parties chose threat and violence as both sides exist under an instable political and economic system, a demoralized army, the absence of deeply rooted democratic traditions and ethical norms prepared Russian society for an outburst of violence and intolerance with neither Russia nor Chechnya prepared for using nonviolent approaches to political and economic problems (Yevsyukova, 14).” Both Russians and Chechens, across every level of their respective societies, need education and training such as the “United Nations Core Pre-Deployment Training Materials (CPTMs) for peacekeepers underlining the importance of working with all actors and not just the host government with regular dialogue maintained by religious leaders, women and student associations, academics, professional organizations, and other parts of civilian society (Curran, 90-91)” in order for Russians and Chechens to seek nonviolent methods to find ways to start resolving their long and violent interactions.
The United States Institute of Peace you quoted makes a good case for the benefits of ending the violence in Chechnya and reaching a peaceful solution for both the Chechens and the Russians. Do you feel there is some sort of event or involvement from a third party that could be used to initiate these discussions or do you believe it is the natural progression of the conflict since, as you stated, they have tried war, and the outcome was not favorable for either side? Given the history between the two parties it would seem like an outside, and mostly neutral party must be used to mediate the discussions of the peace process to truly have any effect on the situation. The European Union has been proposed in numerous discussions, as it is a large and impactful body in Europe, and also has a good reputation on working towards ending human rights abuses. Either way, it does appear the time is right to discuss a peaceful end to the conflict.
You provided a rational, reasonable resolution to the Russian-Chechen crisis. The only thing missing is the end result. Would Chechnya be independent or fall under Russia’s rule? There are passionate arguments on both sides, and for many, in both Russia and Chechnya, they are unwilling to compromise on their stance. How do you find peace when both Russia and Chechnya are uncompromising on the question of Chechen independence? Furthermore, the international community has demonstrated its disinterest in getting involved in the Chechen conflict with Russia’s insistence that it is an internal issue and due to the fact that other international events like the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have largely overshadowed the events in Chechnya.
Track-two diplomacy can achieve a level of success because there are moderates on both sides of the conflict who want to achieve peace. Harnessing those that are reasonable into low-level discussions within the various communities can help to achieve a general understanding of the opposing side. Though track-two diplomacy can be effective, diplomatic peace needs to be achieved through track-one diplomacy, which will continue to be a challenge for Russia and Chechnya due to their demands.