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By Tom Nuttall  

As the dust settles in South Ossetia, what has the Russo-Georgia conflict taught us about the complex politics of the Caucasian region? Russia had plenty of reasons for intervening so drastically in Georgia, of course, including the manoeuvring of traditional power politics and the urge to keep an uppity, restive neighbour in check.

But one aspect that many analysts have missed is the role played by Russia’s southern republics: North Ossetia, of course, but also Dagestan, Ingushetia and even Chechnya. Over the past few years the Kremlin has secured the loyalty of all the governments of these regions, but a…

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