Staunton, July 22 – When Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” in Ukraine, that conflict seemed far away for most Buryats, Aleksandr Garmazhapova says. But now that their nation has suffered nearly 300 combat deaths, the war has come home to the members of this nation of one million.
Almost every Buryat has lost someone in his or her own family or knows a family which has suffered such a loss, and that makes the war something very immediate and very painful for them, the leader of the émigré Free Buryatia movement says (rfi.fr/ru/россия/20220723-в-бурятии-война-никого-не-обошла-стороной-александра-гармажапова-о-тех-кто-больше-не-хочет-воевать).
And it is also why Buryat soldiers form almost ten percent of the soldiers in the Russian army who are currently seeking to avoid service in Ukraine, 170 out of 1793, even though the Buryats form only a few more than half of one percent of the population of the Russian Federation (https://verstka.media/v-plenu-u-sobstvennoy-armii/).
Because many non-Russian nations like the Buryats are so small, their members are thus far more likely to be affected by the war than are larger communities like the ethnic Russians, Garmazhapova says. And thus she concludes that Putin has “shot himself in the foot” by relying so heavily on non-Russian personnel.