Staunton, September 2 – By fighting against separatism in Chechnya two decades ago, Aleksandr Nevzorov says, Moscow was at least promoting its interests in blocking the spread of national liberation ideas to other parts of Russia. But in invading Ukraine and promoting separatism, it has sent a message that may come back to haunt it in Russia itself.
Commenting on the 20th anniversary of the Khasavyurt accords, the Russian journalist says that Russia lost its “unnecessary” war in Chechnya in which tens of thousands of people died. Today, he continues, it is conducting yet another absolutely senseless war but one still more dangerous for Russia” (rosbalt.ru/russia/2016/09/01/1546201.html).
The reason the war in Ukraine’s Donbass is more dangerous for Russia than the Chechen war was is because now Moscow rather than its opponents are fanning the flames not just of separatism but of “[ethnic] Russian separatism.” And from there, this kind of separatism can easily shift to the territory of the Russian Federation.”
Nevzorov says that “the Donbass tragedy shows that Russia didn’t learn anything from the Chechen experience,” perhaps evidence that the current leadership is incapable of learning from anything that it does.
And he points out in conclusion that “in the Donbass, Moscow set for itself ambitious tasks but everything ended with the seizure of ‘a few petty little towns and settlements which were able to separate [from Ukraine] at the price of an enormous number of victims and much suffering for all.”