Staunton, July 7 – In order to provide enough manpower for its war in Ukraine, Moscow has felt compelled to allow Chechnya and other non-Russian republics to form military units consisting almost exclusively of members of their own nationalities. This may help Russia in the short term, but it constitutes a serious threat over the longer haul, Aleksey Malashenko says.
Chechnya is the most obvious case, the Moscow political analyst says. Moscow has allowed this innovation because it has been presented as involving units formed on the basis of the country’s territorial divisions rather than on the basis of ethnicity. But Chechnya is 95 percent Chechen and so the forces will be as well (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/378893/).
If something similar happens in other republics, these units will be ethnic in the first instance; and it is unlikely that they will be disbanded even after the end of the Ukrainian operation. In that event, they will be viewed as the armies of the nations involved and thus a threat to Moscow, even if nominally they are part of the Russian armed forces.
“What will actually happen in that future is far from clear,” Malashenko says; but the possibilities are worrisome. Already, the formation of such units means that they are giving Kadyrov “the status of a politician at the federal level,” thus changing relations between Moscow and the periphery in ways that are not in Moscow’s favor.