Staunton, June 6 – Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is having a very different impact on the non-Russian portion of the population than on the Russian one. Most ethnic Russians still support the war but question its costs; but ever more non-Russians are demanding to know why they are expected to fight for a government which ignores their rights.
Such demands are increasing in frequency and volume as it has become obvious that non-Russians have been called upon to serve and die in disproportionate numbers at a time when the Kremlin message is increasingly Russian-centric and when Moscow is attacking their linguistic and cultural rights.
That trend is already in evidence in various parts of the Russian Federation, although there have been few attempts to connect the dots (apostrophe.ua/article/world/2022-06-21/kogda-zakonchatsya-boevyie-buryatyi-putina/46607idelreal.org/a/31877032.htmlwindowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/06/putins-war-in-ukraine-radicalizing-non.html).
In the short term, such non-Russian anger about the war is likely to reinforce the anger many Russians feel about the conflict, potentially leading to an alliance between the non-Russians and Russian anti-war and thus anti-Putin groups and leading the latter to increasingly speak out on behalf of the former.
And in the longer term, the consequences may be far more profound. When governments use minorities to fight their wars, the minorities often return from the fighting far more committed to demanding rights for themselves. Both the Civil Rights movement in the US and the anti-colonial movements in the Third World were products of World War II.
The longer Putin’s war goes on, the greater the chances that it will deepen the divide between Russians and non-Russians within the Russian Federation and lead the latter to demand that Moscow revise its treatment of them to the better or, if the center proves unwilling, to mobilize to become independent countries.