“The worse, the better.”
Kyle Orton describes how Vladimir Putin encouraged the rise of radical Islam in the Northern Caucasus to cement his rule in Moscow:
In the conduct of the Second Chechen War, outside of unrestrained brutality, Russia bet on provokatsiya (provocation), which simply means “taking control of your enemies in secret and encouraging them to do things that discredit them and help you.” Specifically, this meant strengthening the jihadist trend of the Chechen insurgency against the more nationalist/separatist forces, identifying the Chechen independence cause with al-Qaeda and terrorism, and framing Moscow’s war—and its ancillary effects of making Putin master of Russia—under the rubric of the War on Terror.
Prodding politico-military opponents into doing criminal things they would not otherwise have done to justify a legal or military crackdown and to discredit their cause, and manipulating terrorist movements for the same reason, are tactics Russia has been using for over one-hundred years, against opposition internal and external.
Orton says Putin followed the old Chekist playbook to facilitate the rise of ISIS in Syria, to serve as a pretext for direct Russian action to protect the Assad regime, and to strengthen Putin’s influence in the region and at home.
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