The Caucasian war had its long prehistory - a series of wars, conflicts, diplomatic struggle. The Caucasus became a military-strategic problem of Russia already at the time of Muscovite Russia of the 16th - 17th centuries. Then came the time of the Russian Empire, when in the Caucasus, with small interruptions, there were wars all the time with the Ottomans, Persians and mountain tribes. Throughout the empire, the Caucasus was a war zone, military campaigns, insurrections and uprisings, conspiracies and conflicts came one after the other. Only the Caucasian war with the mountaineers lasted for half a century with interruptions. And after the fall of the Romanov Empire, the world did not come to the Caucasus.
The Caucasus has always had strategic importance for Russia - as a way to the East, a place of contact with Islamic civilization and as a natural protective barrier on the southern borders of the country. In turn, for the regional - Iran, Turkey, and global - England and the United States, the opponents of Russia, this region was a "painful point", with the help of which it could have a serious impact on the entire Russian state.
Russia came to the Caucasus in the course of the natural development of its civilization project and state, when it was pushing its civilization and state limits. Later, Westerners-liberals, our enemies in the West and the East, as well as a part of Soviet historiography hostile to the “damned tsarism” (especially in the 1920 and during the post-Stalinist “thaw”) the myth that the accession of the Caucasus was carried out violently, the region became a colony of Russia, local peoples were subjected to genocide and extermination. That all problems of the Caucasian peoples are to blame for Russian and Soviet "occupiers."
However, in reality, Russia brought an advanced development project to the Caucasus, a more developed spiritual and material culture. For comparison, Westerners-Europeans, during the colonization of America, Africa, Asia, Australia and island territories, robbed, killed, raped, destroyed the indigenous population by all means, clearing the "living space" for themselves. They set off local tribes and ethnic groups among themselves, soldered them, sat down on drugs, starved them, infected them with diseases, drove them on reservations, restricted development and education, etc. And the Russians liberated the Caucasian peoples from the Ottoman and Persian yoke. Ottomans and Persians, unlike the Russians, in reality carried out the genocide of recalcitrant peoples. This is a "feature" of the Eastern policy. In modern Iraq or Syria, we saw the same picture - total extermination on the basis of religious (even within the same religion), national and tribal features. With the arrival of the Russians in the Caucasus, bloody civil strife there ceased, gangs and the slave trade disappeared, legality was established, cultural and economic takeoff began. The Russians brought urban culture with them, built new cities and brought new life to the old ones, built roads that connected a huge region, developed local economy, science and education, health care, turned previously wild places into sanatoriums, health resorts, recreation centers, etc.
A sure sign of Russia's positive influence on the development of the Caucasus is a large-scale increase in the population of the previously sparsely populated, deserted or devastated by wars, invasions and fishers of the people (slave traders) of the region. Previously, population growth was restrained (with high fertility) or the population in some areas was even reduced by constant large-scale external invasions of the Ottomans and Persians, when the invaders arranged, in fact, regional genocide, while simultaneously removing large masses of the population to settle in Turkey or Persia or into slavery; internal wars, strife, inter-clan and tribal slaughter; wide slave traders hunt for people (Circassian concubines were famous for their beauty and grace from Persia and Turkey to North Africa and Southern Europe); low level of development of the economy, which could not feed more people, etc.
Thus, the fates of the Caucasus and Russia became one, the Caucasian peoples became part of the Russian multinational civilization. The Russians brought progress and civilization to the Caucasus. But at all times there were dark forces, including abroad, who opposed this process.
Military sketch of Franz Roubaud
As a result of two successful wars with Persia (1804-1813) and the Ottoman Empire (1806-1812), Russia acquired the Karabakh, Gandzhinskoe, Sheki, Derbent, Cuban khanates, seeking recognition of the rights to Guria and Megrelia. The inclusion of part of the Transcaucasus in Russia was of great military-strategic and economic importance.
However, the inclusion of part of Georgia, Eastern Armenia and Northern Azerbaijan into Russia raised the issue of the accession of the North Caucasus, which had an important strategic position. The Russian government could not fully solve its tasks in Transcaucasia, without consolidating in the North Caucasus. Russia could not come to terms with the existence of a wild region (in civilizational, socio-cultural and economic terms), which was already in the ring of the lands of the empire. It was necessary to introduce it into a single civilizational, state, cultural and economic space.
Map of the Caucasus region (1801 — 1813). Compiled in the military history department at the headquarters of the Caucasian Military District by lieutenant colonel V.I. Tomkeev. Tiflis, 1901 year
The Russian government could deal with this problem only after the end of the wars with Napoleon. In 1816, the general, the hero of the 1820 war of the year, AP Yermolov, was appointed commander of a separate Georgian (from 1812 - Caucasian) corps. After reviewing the plan of Yermolov, Emperor Alexander ordered: "To conquer the mountain peoples gradually, but strongly, to occupy only what can be kept for them, do not spread it except by becoming firm foot and ensuring the occupied space from the attempts of the hostile."
Considering the psychology of the mountain tribes, their unbridled self-will and hostility towards the Russians, the new commander-in-chief decided that it was absolutely impossible to establish peaceful relations under the existing conditions. Ermolov made a consistent and systematic plan of offensive action. Ermolov did not leave with impunity a single robbery and raid of the Highlanders. He did not start decisive actions without first equipping the bases and creating offensive bridgeheads. Among the components of the Yermolov plan were the construction of roads, the creation of glades, the erection of fortifications, the Cossacks' colonization of the region, the formation of “layers” between tribes hostile to Russia by resetting there pro-Russian childbirth.
“The Caucasus,” said Yermolov, “is a huge fortress protected by a half-million garrison. It is necessary either to storm it, or to seize the trenches. The assault will be expensive. So let's lead the siege! ”With 1817, Yermolov began a systematic attack on the areas of Chechnya and Dagestan, accompanied by the construction of fortified points and the construction of safe roads. Thanks to his activities, the ring of economic and political blockade around this turbulent and wild region was tightening all the time.
Yermolov moved the left flank of the Caucasian line from Terek to Sunzha, where he strengthened the Nazranovsky redoubt and laid in October 1817 fortification of the Pregrand Stan in its middle course. In the autumn of 1817, the Caucasian troops were reinforced by the corps of Count Vorontsov who had arrived from France. With the arrival of these forces, Yermolov had a total of about 4 divisions, and he could take decisive action. The Zakuban Circassians threatened the right flank of the Caucasian line, Kabardians were in the center, and Chechens lived against the left flank behind the Sunzha River. At the same time, the Circassians were weakened by internal strife, the Kabardians squandered the plague - the danger was threatened primarily by the Chechens.
From Yermolov's notes: “... From the peaks of Kuban, on the left bank, there live peoples under the Ottoman Porte under the general name Zakubanis, known, warlike, rarely calm ... Kabarda, once populous, whose inhabitants are revered by the bravest among the mountaineers, often in their populations, lies opposite the center of the line they fiercely opposed the Russians in bloody battles ... Morov's ulcer was our ally against the Kabardians; for, having completely destroyed the entire population of Little Kabarda and causing havoc in the Bolshoi, they weakened them so much that they could not gather in large forces as before, but made raids in small batches; otherwise, our troops, in a large space of weak, dispersed parts, could be endangered. Very many expeditions to Kabarda were undertaken, sometimes forcing them to return or pay for the abductions made. ... Downstream of the Terek live Chechens, the most evil of the robbers attacking the line. Their society is very sparsely populated, but it has multiplied enormously in the past few years, for the villains of all other nations have been friendly accepted, leaving their land for any crimes. Here they found accomplices who were immediately ready either to revenge for them, or to participate in robberies, and they served them as faithful guides in the lands that they themselves were not familiar with. Chechnya can rightly be called the nest of all the robbers ... ".
In the spring of 1818, Yermolov launched an offensive against Chechnya. In 1818, in the lower reaches of the river, the Russian fortress of Grozny was founded. It was believed that this measure would put an end to the uprisings of the Chechens who lived between Sunzha and Terek, but in fact it was the beginning of a new war with the highlanders. Yermolov moved from individual punitive expeditions to a systematic offensive deep into Chechnya and Gorny Dagestan by surrounding the mountainous areas with a solid ring of fortifications with cutting through glades in difficult forests, laying roads and destroying the most hostile villages. In Dagestan, the mountaineers were pacified, threatening Tarkovsky’s Shamkhalism linked to Russia. In 1819, the fortune of Sudden was built to keep the Highlanders in submission. An attempt to attack her, undertaken by the Avar Khan, ended in complete failure. In Chechnya, Russian forces pushed Chechens farther and farther into the mountains and resettled a peacefully-minded population on the plain under the protection of Russian garrisons. A clearing was cut through a dense forest to the village of Germenchuk, which served as one of the main highlanders' bases.
In 1820, the Black Sea Cossack army (up to 40 thousand people) was added to the composition of the Separate Georgian Corps, renamed the Separate Caucasian Corps and reinforced by additional troops. In 1821, on the top of the mountain, on the slopes of which was the town of Tarki - the capital of Tarkovsky Shamkhalstvo, the fortress was built. Moreover, during the construction, the troops of the Avar Khan Akhmet were defeated, trying to prevent the work. The possessions of the Dagestan princes, who had suffered a series of defeats in 1819-1821, were transferred to the allies of Russia and subordinated to the Russian commandants, or liquidated.
On the right flank of the line, the Zakuban Circassians with the help of the Turks became more worried about the border. Their troops invaded the lands of the Black Sea army in October 1821, but were defeated. In Abkhazia, Major General Prince Gorchakov defeated the rebels near Cape Kodor and took over the possession of Prince Dmitry Shervashidze. For the complete pacification of Kabarda in 1822, a series of fortifications were built at the base of the mountains from Vladikavkaz to the headwaters of the Kuban. Including the fortress was founded Nalchik (1818 g. Or 1822 g.). In 1823-1824 A number of punitive expeditions were conducted against the highlanders of the Zucban. In 1824, the Black Sea Abkhaz, who had risen against the successor of Prince D. Shervashidze, Prince Mikhail Shervashidze, were compelled to submit.
In the 20 of the nineteenth century, the anti-Russian movement of the Highlanders of the Caucasus took on a religious connotation. The ideology of Muridism began to form on the basis of Islam. It was based on the principles of strict observance of Muslim rituals, unconditional obedience to the leaders and mentors. His followers proclaimed the impossibility of subordinating a legitimate Muslim to a non-believing monarch. At the end of the 20-s in the territory of Chechnya and Dagestan, on the basis of this ideology, a military-theocratic state formation of the Imamate was formed. The first imam was Gazi-Magomet, who called for the mountaineers to wage a holy war against the Russians. The movement of the mountaineers under the flag of Muridism was the impetus for the expansion of the Caucasian War, although some mountain peoples (Kumyks, Ossetians, Ingushs, Kabardians) did not join it.
In 1825, a general uprising began in Chechnya. On July 8, the Highlanders seized the Amirajiyurt post and tried to take up Gerzel fortifications. July 15 was rescued by Lieutenant-General Lisanevich. The next day, Lisanevich and General Grekov were killed by Chechen mullah Ochar-Khadzhi during talks with the elders. Ochar-Khadzhi attacked General Grekov with a dagger, and also fatally wounded General Lisanevich, who tried to help Grekov. In response to the murder of two generals, the troops killed all the Chechen and Kumyk elders invited to the talks. The uprising was suppressed only in 1826. The coastal areas of the Kuban were again subjected to attacks by large parties of the Shapsugs and Abadzekhs. The Kabardians became agitated. In 1826, a number of trips to Chechnya were carried out, with deforestation, laying of glades and suppression of hostile villages. This ended the activities of Yermolov. In 1827, Tsar Nicholas I withdrew the famous general and dismissed due to independent behavior and suspicion of having connections with secret societies (Decembrists).
The successor of Yermolov was I.F. Paskevich. In 1830, he addressed the “Proclamation to the population of Dagestan and the Caucasus Mountains”, in which he declared Gazi-Magomed a troublemaker and declared war against him. Soon the first imam died. The second imam was Gamzat-Bek, who died of blood feud. Thus, Russia was firmly drawn into the Caucasian War. Calculations for a quick victory were not justified. The unusual conditions of the mountain war, the problem of communications, the stubborn resistance of the mountaineers, the lack of a unified strategy and tactics of military operations stretched this war for more than thirty years.
In 1834, the new imam proclaimed Shamil (1797 – 1871) - the son of an Avar peasant, the brightest and most talented person among the leaders of the highlanders. He was distinguished by a good education, courage, military talent, and religious fanaticism. He managed to concentrate in his hands the full power, thereby strengthening the state, to accumulate serious military forces. 1840-e years were the time of his greatest success. Shamil managed to inflict several defeats on the Russian army. In 1843, he expanded the uprising zone, deploying hostilities in Northern Dagestan. but the defeat of the highlanders was inevitable. Russia presented a development project, and the mountaineers dragged the Caucasus region into the past - civil strife, tribal relations, slavery, early feudalism and religious fanaticism. The Caucasian war was delayed by the fact that Russia was distracted by other wars and conflicts, in particular, the Eastern (Crimean) war.
In 1845, MS Vorontsov was appointed governor of the Transcaucasus, having received extraordinary powers. However, his military expedition ended in failure. In 1846, Shamil invaded Ossetia and Kabarda, intending to push the boundaries of his state to the west. But Shamil's expansionist plans did not match the economic and military potential of the Imamate. Since the end of the 40-ies, this state began to decline. During the Crimean War, Shamil tried to help the Turkish army, but in the end was defeated. Capturing Tsinandali in 1854 was his last major success.
After the Crimean War, the tsarist government launched a decisive attack on Shamil. Significantly increased the number of Russian army. In August, Alexander II appointed 1856 the governor of the Caucasus and the new commander-in-chief of the Caucasian army, Prince A. I. Baryatinsky. In 1857 – 1859 he managed to conquer all of Chechnya and launch an offensive against Dagestan. In August, 1859, after a fierce battle in the village of Gunib, Shamil was captured. Imamat ceased to exist. The last major center of resistance of the mountaineers - the Kbaade tract - was taken by Russian troops in 1864 year. The perennial Caucasian War is over.
True, after that the Caucasus did not become a completely peaceful region. At turning points stories The Caucasus becomes a "pain point" of Russiasince neither in the Russian empire nor in the Soviet Union this particular area of the empire was ever fully civilized. In peacetime, when Russia shows strength and stable development, the Caucasus is calm, but during the “change” all the old “sores” immediately return. This was clearly manifested during the collapse of the Russian Empire and the Civil War, during the Great Patriotic War, which led to the tragedy of deportation. Then the collapse of the Soviet empire led to a series of violent conflicts in the Caucasus. At the same time, our western and eastern "partners" have always tried and are trying to use the Caucasus against Russian civilization in order to crush and destroy Russia. At present, the region is temporarily reassured by the fact that it allowed them to return to “local peculiarities” - cronyism, religiosity, etc., and began to provide large-scale financial support to the local ethnocracy (in the old notions of “tribute”).
However, this is a flawed solution that is suitable only for a short time period. The region is gradually “boiling”, driven into the depths of the problem, sooner or later it will have to be solved, or they will blow up the Caucasus and a significant part of Russia. Thus, among the large-scale problems one can single out the repression and flight of the Russian population (in particular, Chechnya is already a mono-ethnic region); archaization; strengthening the position of radical (“black”) Islam; social injustice that leads hundreds and thousands of young people to search for the truth and leads many to the ranks of the “caliphate”; ethnic mafia; a wide range of socio-economic problems, etc.
In general, the future of the Caucasus, as well as of the whole of Russia, depends on whether a new development project based on social justice and ethics of conscience will be launched. (possibly as a renewed Soyuz-2). Otherwise, sooner or later we will get a new large-scale Caucasian war, into which all the existing “pain points” of the huge region will merge: Karabakh, Georgia, Abkhazia, Ossetia, Chechnya, gangster and jihadist underground in a number of republics, etc. And all this will be part of a big turmoil.