Staunton, May 7 – Yet another unintended consequence of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is that the international community is now viewing Russia’s two post-Soviet wars in Ukraine in a new way given that Russian forces in Ukraine today are behaving in much the same way they did in Chechnya two decades ago, Anzor Maskhadov says.
The son of the last president of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria who has lived in Norway for the last 16 years but who has now come to Ukraine to fight Russia and help the Ukrainians defend their land and reputation says many in the West now see Putin’s true face and understand that what he is doing in Ukraine now is what he did in Chechnya earlier.
That shift in the West has led him, Maskhadov says, to redouble his efforts to have the world declare what Moscow did in Chechnya a genocide and to insist that those who directed and carried out those wars and the one in Chechnya be tried for crimes against humanity (nv.ua/ukraine/politics/prestupleniya-rossiyskoy-armii-v-chechne-anzor-mashadov-intervyu-nv-novosti-ukrainy-50239876.html).
He says he is also working to counter Russian disinformation about Chechens in Ukraine. To deflect blame, Russia continues to blame Chechens for crimes that Russian forces have committed. Russian outlets blame “Chechen terrorists” for many crimes, “but I say directly that Russians are the fascists and bandits.”
Before Putin launched his broader invasion of Ukraine, some in the West might have been willing to accept such lies. But “now, happily, the image of the Chechens in the world has softened,” Maskhadov says. Putin may try to frighten people with his images of “Chechen terrorists.” But he “has turned out to be worst than the most died in the wool Islamist radicals.”
And unlike 20 years ago, the world can see that.