Russia welcomes US designation of Caucasus Emirate leader as terrorist

Russia has welcomed the decision by the United States to designate Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, the “Emir” of the so-called Caucasus Emirate, a terrorist. The US State Department said this action, which came on June 23, “will help stem the flow of financial and other assistance to Umarov.” The State Department added that Umarov’s emergence as leader of the Chechen insurgency had “intensified the split between national separatists and radical jihadists and led to a movement seeking to create an Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus with Umarov as the Emir.”

It noted that Umarov had acknowledged involvement in the 2009 Nevsky Express train derailment which killed 28 people and the 2010 Moscow subway bombings, which killed 40. The State Department quoted its Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Daniel Benjamin, as saying: “The designation of Umarov is in direct response to the threats posed to the United States and Russia.”

The State Department concluded by saying that designating Umarov as a terrorist is just “one phase” of the US government’s response to the threat he poses and its effort to “degrade” Umarov’s ability to exert “operational and leadership control” over his group.

Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement the day after. “We consider this step by the American side an important recognition of the indivisibility and common nature of the threat of international terrorism that Russia, the United States and other countries face today,” the Russian foreign ministry statement read.

Read here a comment by Mairbek Vatchagaev, arguing that the US State Department’s decision to designate Doku Umarov as a would-be threat to American interests will have little, if any, effect on the situation in the North Caucasus.

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