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ANALYSISRussia’s long and bloody history with the people of the Caucasus can be traced back to one event and date – the fall of Crimea in 1789 to Catherine the Great. Before that there were numerous attempts to seize this territory including one by Peter ‘the Great’ that resulted in humiliating surrender and imprisonment. And each time the fighting followed a pattern first set by Ivan the Terrible when he conquered the Muslim lands now known as eastern Ukraine. For the Russians who were the original ‘ethnic cleansers’ carried out a military doctrine that exists to this day – the harder you hit them the less likely they are to come back. This was true in Crimea in 1789, and the long and unrelenting wars in the Caucasus that have followed to this day. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear Vladimir PUTIN’s Russia mediated a truce between Azerbaijan and it’s Christian ally Armenia over the latest flare up in the northern Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh. What will surprise the people of the Caucasus – Chechnya, DAGESTAN, Ingush Setia and Georgia –  and Ukraine for that matter is how quickly and responsibly Moscow acted to end the fighting. Perhaps, Russia is seeking a new role in world affairs –  after its welcome actions in Syria – one based and mediation and tolerance built on trust with powerful allies such as China and Iran as well as accommodating Europe. Let’s hope so because the other reading into its actions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is that PUTIN’s Kremlin is simply lining up for an inevitable war with Turkey, the once great Ottoman Empire whose armies Catherine defeated to seize Crimea.

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