The Caucasus: A Formidable Barrier to Russian Expansion

Jan 13, 2016 | 09:00 GMT
In 2008, a convoy of Russian troops travels through the mountains toward an armed conflict between Georgian and South Ossetian troops.

Over the past two years, Russia has been busy expanding its road and rail networks southward, through the North Caucasus and down both sides of the Caspian Sea toward Iran. Moscow has many good reasons for its drive south: Iran's economy is poised to become more influential in the region as international sanctions are lifted, Russian troops in Syria need a reliable land route for supplies, and the Kremlin must confront the growing economic and military cooperation between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. But pushing all the way to the Iran border is easier said than done, and, in the end, the Caucasus' obstacles will make it difficult for Moscow to achieve its goal....

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