Monday, February 22, 2016

Russians are Far from the Only Militant Nation of Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 22 – In advance of Defender of the Fatherland Day tomorrow, a Russian portal has reminded its readers that the ethnic Russians are far from the only nation within Russia that displays military qualities and that the co-existence of these people within one state has thus often been anything but easy.

            In a 2,000 word essay, Russkaya Semerka offers a list. Some of the facts it adduces and the comments it offers make for interesting reading given the Russia-centric nature of most of the coverage in advance of this holiday and more generally (

            Among the nations whose military spirit the portal suggests has long been especially high are the following:

·         The Russians.  “A several climate, extensive territories, and an unending series of conquerors has forced among the Russians an enormous force of will and persistence in achieving victory,” the site says.  Over the last 250 years, the Russian army has won 31 of the 34 wars it has taken part in, winning 279 of the 392 major battles, even though in most cases, it faced a more numerous enemy.

·         The Baltic Germans. At the end of the imperial period, the Baltic Germans were among the most militant of the nationalities of the country. On April 15, 1914, 48 of the 169 full generals in the Russian Army were Baltic Germans.  They forced equivalent fractions of lower-ranking commanders.  The portal devotes particular attention to Baron Ungern who conquered Mongolia and “became one of the main threats for Soviet Russia.”

·         The Cossacks.  Both as supporters and opponents of the Russian state, the Cossacks have shown enormous martial spirit.

·         The Circassians. The self-designator of the Circassians is “Adyg” and that word means “warrior,” an appropriate title given their ability to resist the advance of Russian forces while behaving with respect to their opponents and their opponents.

·         The Vainakhs (Chechens and Ingush). From the times of the Golden Horde to the present, these peoples have been known for their martial spirit.

·         The Osetins.  Among the most militant peoples in the country, the Osetins more than many of their neighbors in the North Caucasus have worked with rather than against the Russian state.

·         The Tatars.  Since the time of the Golden Horde, the Tatars of the Middle Volga have been a militant people.

·         The Nogays.  “One of the most frightening and militant peoples of Eurasia,” the Nogays took their name from the Golden Horde commander Nogay; and their horde and its influence extended over “an enormous territory from the Don to the Danube.”

·         The Kalmyks.  A Buddhist people, they have been militant as well since Golden Horde times. In recent centuries, they have been shock troops for Russia.

·         The Mansi.  A Finno-Ugric people of the far north, the Mansi have shown sufficient military spirit to force their larger neighbors to take them seriously. In response to defeats by the Cossacks, they fought as they retreated further to the north.

·         The Tuvins.  A numerically small Buddhist people on the eastern borders of Russia, the Tuvins were among the most committed soldiers in the Soviet army during World War II, a group who terrified the Germans.

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