Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Syrians, Afghans, North Koreans and Iranians May Soon be Fighting for Russia in Ukraine, Tsyganok Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 29 – In order to fill the depleted ranks of the Russian army fighting in Ukraine, Moscow is making it easier for persons with dual citizenship to be drafted and serve and for those with citizenship in other countries to volunteer to serve in the Russian armed forces.

            As a result, Anatoly Tsyganok, a retired colonel who heads the Moscow Center for Military Predictions, says that “residents of Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea or Iran” may soon be serving in the Russian military. He says that in March, some in the defense ministry said “more than 16,000” people in the Middle East alone wanted to.

            But far larger numbers are likely to come as a result of three other changes in Russian law. First, Moscow can now draft persons with dual Russian-non-Russian citizenships who are resident in the Russian Federation. Second, it promises to give even more expedited paths to citizenship to CIS nationals who serve in the army.

            And third, it is opening the way for volunteers from foreign countries without many restrictions, although this is reportedly unpopular with many commanders who fear that an influx of such people into the Russian ranks will lead to a decay in unit cohesion and even open conflicts as has already happened (

            Another constraint on this program is that some countries, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan from which come many immigrants in Russia, have already warned their nationals that they will face criminal penalties if they take part in a military operation conducted by a foreign government, in this case, the Russian Federation.

            But what is most important about this report is that it shows just how many difficulties the Russian authorities are facing in raising forces by traditional means, the draft and volunteering from among Russians, and how willing Moscow now is to do whatever is necessary to find more bodies.

Russian Cultural Ministry to Give Priority to Films about Anglo-Saxon Perfidy, Degradation of Europe, and Heroism of Russian Forces in Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 30 – The Russian ministry of culture has announced that it will give priority funding to films about “the neo-colonial policy of the countries of the Anglo-Saxon world,” “the degradation of Europe” and “the heroism and self-sacrifice of Russian warriors in the course of the special military operation” in Ukraine.

            Because of the Russian state’s increasing dominance as a source of funding for films in that country, those are likely to be the movies that Russians will be watching next year and later and

            Other topics the ministry said it would fund include “Russia as a contemporary, stable and secure state offering opportunities for development and self-realization,” animated versions of Russian literary works, “popularization of service in the Russian armed forces,” and patriotic education.

            What makes this list significant is that it is an indication that the Kremlin believes that it has no reason to change its current ideological agenda and that the themes that now dominate talk shows on government television stations are now going to reach even larger audiences via movies. 

Russians Back Putin’s War because Their Cultural Code Remains that of Peasants Focused Exclusively on Survival, Olshevsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 29 – Russians say they support Putin’s war in Ukraine not because they believe in it but rather because their psychology remains that of peasants who are focused only on survival rather than living and who don’t worry about or take responsibility for anything except what affects themselves directly, Aleksey Roshchin says.

            According to the Russian commentator, this peasant attitude, sometimes referred to as “’peasant self-awareness’” is “a euphemism for ‘the psychology of survival.’ The peasant world consists of those who do not live but survive and with varying degrees of success” whether they remain on the land or move to the cities (

            Indeed, despite massive urbanization over the last century, Russians continue to feel threats to their existence and that is why in their attitudes to many things, including Putin’s war in Ukraine, they act as peasants would act, worrying about developments only if they directly affect them and enjoying the suffering of others if that suggests they re powerful.

            Roshchin draws these conclusions from an article about Vasily Shukshin, a Russian ruralist writer of a half century ago who celebrated peasant life, by Vadim Olshevsky, a Russian mathematician at the University of Connecticut, which has just appeared online at

            Olshevsky says that the heroes of Shukshin’s pesant world would react to Putin’s war as spectators, without any sense of responsibility and would have been upset only if “there aren’t enough socks for the soldiers or enough machineguns.” Mobilization appears likely to change that but it soon passed without much reaction, and so there will be more.

            Russians with such peasant attitudes wouldn’t care about the failure of the Kremlin to specify and keep specific war goals but they would enjoy attacks on the Ukrainians because these attacks aren’t directed at them but at others to whom they can thus feel superior to, Olshevsky concludes.

            In citing this essay, Roshchin also mentions Maksim Gorky who hated the peasantry because of its “cruelty, heartlessness, lack of interest in anything beyond themselves, pettiness and stupidity … qualities the peasants have carried through the century almost unchanged” as recent events have shown.

            None of this is the fault of the Russians as peasant, the commentator argues. “It isn’t some ‘genetic predisposition.’” It is simply the way in which people who have to focus on their own survival all the time act. Such “’survivors’ can’t afford a broad outlook and real empathy;” they are themselves too threatened for such things.

Muslim Leaders who Cooperated with Nazis Saved Lives of Thousands of Soviet POWs, Baboglu Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – Sometimes the most remarkable thing about a publication in Russia today is its remarkable honesty about a subject normally treated in the most hostile and tendentious way, an exception to the general rule that raises questions as to why it was allowed to appear and how it will be read both by those inclined to be sympathetic and those who won’t.

            Just such an article has appeared on the portal of the Rex news agency which is part of the Regnum network. Entitled “The Muslim Legions of Nazi Germany” and written by Azerbaijani journalist Samir Babaoglu, it tells the story of Turkestan, Azerbaijani, North Caucasian and Idel-Ural POWs who fought on the German side during World War II (

            What is striking given how this subject is usually treated by Russian outlets especially in recent years is its calm and even-handed approach and perhaps most of all its contention that those involved acted for understandable reasons including above all saving lives at a time when such people had few good choices.

            Babaoglu’s concluding words are especially striking and noteworthy:

Today, under modern conditions, it may be difficult for us to understand how the intellectuals and leaders of the Azerbaijani, Turkestani, North Caucasian, Volga and Crimean Muslims, who wanted independence for their lands which had been conquered by the Soviets could use the assistance of the Nazis to create their own national committees.

But after all, along with those who collaborated with the Nazis to save their lands from the Bolsheviks, there were those Muslims who fought for the lives of their compatriots, albeit far from the front lines. That is an historical reality.

Who knows how many Muslim souls were saved from possible death in POW camps by Muslim leaders such as Nuri Pasha, Hisnu Emir Erkilet Pasha, Mehmet Emin Resulzade, Veli Qayyum Khan, who negotiated with the Germans and came up with the idea of creating Muslim legions?

Non-Russian Languages Threatened Not only by Russian but by Foreign Ones as Well and that Threatens Russia, Karachay Scholar Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 29 – In Soviet times, the government promoted bilingualism among its non-Russian peoples, supporting both the spread of Russian and the survival and even flourishing of non-Russian languages; but since 1991, Moscow has devoted less attention to this system and the consequences have been unfortunate.

            Not only have several non-Russian languages died out and many more put at risk, Tausoltan Uzdenov, the rector of the Karachayevo-Cherkess State University says; but this has happened because of powerful threats coming from two different directions (

            On the one hand, in the absence of an all-Russian policy on languages, the dominance of Russian has increased at the expense of all other indigenous languages. But on the other, and he suggests this should be of particular concern, non-Russians are increasingly choosing to learn international languages like English, Chinese or Turkish rather than their own.

            This second threat is serious because if non-Russians have to learn Russian as the language of the country in which they live, they will sacrifice the time spent in studying their national languages, which is now voluntary, in order to study these others. That may help them individually but it is disastrous for their national communities and for Russia as a whole.

            For their national communities, it will mean that some of them will stop speaking their own languages and thus lose one of the most important bindings tying them together; and for Russia, it means that a significant part of its population will become less tied to the country that is Russia and look further afield.

            Uzdenov points to what London has done in recent decades to promote Welsh and Scots within the context of a British identity, including shifting to that one and away from a narrowly English view. He argues that Russia should do something similar or face the prospect of the decay of one of its true assets, the multinational nature of its population.

Moscow’s Actions Mean Muslims in Russia Not Obligated to Be Loyal, Idel-Ural Portal Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 28 -- In general, the Idel-Ural portal says, shariat law holds that Muslims living in a country whose government respects their rights to live according to Islam should obey that country’s laws; but Moscow’s expansive claims and its actions mean that Muslims living in Russia are not obligated to be loyal in the ways the Russian state expects.

            The portal, which promotes independence for the peoples within the current borders of the Russian Federation, lists three reasons why that is so (

            First, a course the Russian authorities are now promoting for Muslim religious educational institutions argues that Muslims in Russia who do not want to be part of the Russian civic nation have only one choice – leaving the country – an argument that ignores not only their rights under the Russian constitution but treats them as foreigners on their own lands.

            Second, it continues, the Russian claim ignores two aspects of shariat law, the requirement that Muslims revolt if the powers over them violate the principles of Islam or if the powers over them are ruling them as a conquered territory rather than as an equal part of the state as a whole.

            And third, the Muslims of Russia as citizens of that country have rights under the constitution that Moscow is routinely seeking to undermine and destroy. The Kremlin has effectively destroyed not only democracy but federalism and in both cases the rights of Muslims and other peoples as well.

            Consequently, the portal concludes, Muslims in Russia do have every right to revolt despite efforts by the Russian authorities to suggest that Islamic law prevents them from doing so.

Erzyan National Movement Recognizes Holodomor as Act of Genocide

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 28 – Ukraine’s support for non-Russian nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation is prompting ever more of the members of those nations to support Ukraine in various ways, up to and including dispatching some of their number to fight against Putin’s invasion.

            Others have taken less dramatic but in some ways equally important steps and spoken out on behalf of Ukraine and against Russian repression and aggression. The latest to do so is the Erzyan national movement which has adopted a resolution recognizing the 1932-1933 Holodomor as an act of genocide.

            Two days ago, the Atyan Ezem as the council of elders of the Erzyan people is known, took this step and posted its decision on the website of Syrez Balyayen, the chief elder of the Erzyan people (

            Referring to earlier decisions of the same kind by the parliaments of Ukraine, Estonia and Hungary, the Erzyan national movement recognized the Holodmor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, sent translations of its decision to the Verkhovna Rada, and called for Erzyans to commemorate the anniversary of this action every year at the end of November.

            Vitaly Romashkin, a member of the Atyan Ezem, explains that “the Erzyan do not have their own state and therefore our decrees is an action o the national representative organ, the council of elders.” They took this action at the urging of Erzyans now fighting alongside Ukrainians against the Russian invaders.

            “It is possible,” he continues, “that Ukraine and Ukrainians will not focus attention on our action, but we a re doing this above all on behalf of historical justice … One must not condemn the Muscovite policy of ethnocide against the Erzyans without noting and sharing the pain and suffering that Moscow has inflicted on others.”

            “Therefore,” Romashkin concludes, “this document is important for our own spiritual healing and for overcoming colonial thinking.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Two More Signs Moscow’s OCST in Trouble: Russians are Joking about It and Kremlin is Nervous

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 28 – Last week, Vladimir Putin suffered a major rebuff to his plans to use the Organization for the Collective Security Treaty (OCST) as a matrix around which he hopes to organize the former Soviet space when Armenian leader Nikol Pashinyan refused to sign the group’s communique.

            That showed that the grouping, whose only notable success was its intervention in Kazakhstan last January, may no longer matter or at least may not matter as much as the Kremlin hoped. (For a discussion of that likelihood, see

            Since that time, there have been two more developments which point in the same direction. On the one hand, Russians are now telling an anecdote about the OCST that Putin can’t possible like. According to the story now circulating, Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka says he’s “courageous” and may be either the first or the last to leave the security group (

            And on the other, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that efforts to promote “the disintegration of the OCST” are likely to continue but will fail because the group remains something its members need and because it has proved its effectiveness (

            When Russians start laughing at a key part of Putin’s program and when his spokesman is reduced to saying that it will survive efforts to “disintegrate” it, it is reasonable to assume that the OCST is in trouble, perhaps not on deaths door and certainly likely to remain formally in operation but certainly no longer the hope it once was for the Kremlin. 

Putin’s Blitzkrieg against Ukraine Failed Just as Hitler’s did against USSR, Putting Him on Course to Lose, Grachev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 28 – Ten months after launching his expanded invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is set to lose, despite all the talk about the ability of Russian forces to regroup and restart their advance, something that can be easily seen if one thinks about how Hitler’s position looked in 1942, Denis Grachev says.

            Ten months after Hitler invaded the USSR, “Germany still considered itself the victor as it controlled an enormous part of the Soviet Union. German forces still hadn’t been destroyed, and to many it seemed that the outcome of the war was uncertain and that in the end Hitler would get a very favorable peace,” the Russian commentator says (

            “However,” he continues, “to those more well versed in politics and strategy, it was already clear that the Blitzkrieg had failed and that Germany was doomed. And therefore the USSR received help from the Western allies, in the first instance from the US and the UK” who recognized reality.

            Their calculations had nothing to do with sympathies or antipathies. “They were a matter of pure mathematics.” A state with a weaker economy can in principle win a war by using suddenness” but it will lose to one with a stronger economy or backed by those with a stronger one if the war drags on.

            Blitzkriegs sometimes work as they did for Japan in 1905 but more often they don’t as was the case with Germany in both world wars. The Kremlin’s Blitzkrieg in Ukraine has failed and so it will lose because the economy of the collective West standing behind Ukraine is vastly larger, Grachev says. “There won’t be any miracles.”

            Moscow is “surprisingly lucky” that the world didn’t respond forcefully in 2014, but this time is different; and the Russian government has made a losing bet. “There is thus no light at the end of the tunnel for the Kremlin,” he concludes, “unless of course you count the lights of the electric train that is barreling towards you.”

Outcome in Ukraine Continues Russia's Losing Tradition of Last 50 Years, Cherepanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 28 – Some Russians who believe that Putin’s war in Ukraine is a mistake nonetheless aren’t prepared to challenge him because they believe that regardless of current difficulties Moscow has now choice but to fight on to victory given that Russia is “a great counry and cannot allow itself to lose,” Andrey Cherepanov says.

            But in fact, Russia’s looming loss in Ukraine mark a break with the past, the Russian commentator says. Over the last half century and indeed since the end of World War II, he points out, Russia has lost out to its opponents in the three major wars it committed itself to – Afghanistan and in Chechnya twice (

            Even Russians count the first two as losses, but the third was as well, given that Russian forces pulled out allowing Chechnya to be “de facto” independent, a place where Russian laws no longer ran and to which Russian taxpayers have sent enormous sums as reparation or tribute, depending on one’s point of view.

            It is entirely possible that Russia will suffer in precisely the same way when its war in Ukraine ends, forced to pay for the damage it has inflicted regardless of what it claims it has achieved and thus putting yet another burden on the Russian people for decades to come, Cherepanov says.

            He contrasts Russia’s inability to recognize reality and its unwillingness to pull out of a disaster with that of the US which at least withdrew its forces from Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan “when it became clear that there were no prospects for achieving US goals” and in order not to continue to suffer losses.

            According to the Rusisan commentator, “the greatness of the US did not particularly suffer from this. Instead, just the reverse” because this manifestation of intelligence and seriousness led many to respect it even more and its authority around the world to increase. Russia’s failure to pull out of Ukraine now is having exactly the opposite effect for Moscow.

            Because that is the case, Cherepanov says, “the sooner Russian forces stop fighting against the inevitable and leave Ukraine, the better it will be for all Russians – except, of course the members of Putin’s criminal clan” for whom such an outcome however good for everyone else will be like death itself.

New Report Paints Disturbing and Ugly Portrait of Wagner PMC Operations in Africa

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 25 – Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Private Military Company are attracting ever more attention for their actions in Ukraine and their influence in Moscow, but a fuller and even uglier portrait of what he and his group are about is provided in a new report by the French NGO, All Eyes on Wagner.

            That report focuses on what the Wagner PMC has been doing in Mali over the last years and concludes that it has not been able to protect the government there or provide stability to the population. Instead, it has engaged in mass murder, rape, and other crimes ( as discussed at

            Those who are considering Prigozhin and the Wagner PMC in the Ukrainian and Russian context should not fail to read the carefully documented report of All Eyes on Wagner or at least the summary provided by Meduza.

Putin’s War in Ukraine Forcing West to Think about What to Do with Russia and with Current World Order, Etkind Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 28 – Kremlin propaganda suggests that the West has always planned to dismember Russia and dominate the world, but in fact, neither is the cases, Aleksandr Etkind says. Instead, Putin by invading Ukraine is forcing the West to think seriously both about what to do with Russia and what kind of an international organization should now be created.

            The Russian historian who teaches at Vienna’s Central European University says that the West has only taken up the question of the possible dismemberment of Russia during wars. The rest of the time, it has been prepared to tolerate and even support Moscow’s rule (

            By invading Ukraine, Etkind says, Putin has violated the international order and led ever more Western countries to be open to the possibility that Russia must not continue in its current arrangements. According to him, it is now likely that there will be several and possibly “more than ten” new states where Russia now is.

            Managing things so that wars won’t break out among them and preventing a repeat of the kind of revanchism now in evidence in the case of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are major tasks that the West is only beginning to think about but must address because the end of Putin’s regime and of Russia as a single entity could come suddenly.

            But the West faces a larger challenge than just coping with the end of Russia, the historian says. It must come up with a new international order and organization. After the two world wars, it took formed the League of Nations and the United Nations. The first failed and the second is failing, but they represented steps forward.

            Now is the time, Etkind says, to promote a new world organization one that will be able to address problems that neither of its predecessors did. Exactly what it will look like is unclear, but the task of coming up with it has been brought forward by the attack Putin has made on the existing international system by his invasion of Ukraine.

Suslov Bears Major Responsibility for Demise of Soviet Union, Marchenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 25—It is often said that success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan, but in Russia, the reverse seems to be true at least as far as those seeking to identify people responsible for the demise of the USSR are concerned. They are identifying ever more people to blame, including some who might not appear to be likely candidates.

            The latest to be accused of promoting the demise of the Soviet Union is the late Mikhail Suslov, the hardline party ideologist who opposed change, fought dissidents and favored repression. On the 120th anniversary of his birth, Vladimir Marchenko argues that “his role in the disintegration of the USSR is underrated” (

            The reason for holding Suslov responsible, the commentator says, is that “all that he did for the preservation of the Soviet Union turned out to contribute to its destruction” because Suslov “helped Gorbachev move from Stavropol to Moscow,” and died too soon to be able to block the rise of his enemy Yury Andropov.

            But in fact, Marchenko says, those two developments were incomparably less serious as far as the future was concerned than “the destructive work which [Suslov] had done for decades. Gorbachev was no more than a doctor who came to a mortally ill man and wasn’t able to save him. Earlier, he could have been but when Suslov was the doctor, nothing was done.”

            Moreover, there is no indication that the chief ideologist understood either ideology or his role in the fate of the USSR. He believed that everything had to continue as it was and that no new ideas must ever be considered or allowed to come in from the outside. If these weren’t blocked, the country would suffer a Prague spring. But he got things exactly wrong.

            In this, he was completely unlike Stalin’s secret police chief Lavrenty Beria. When Stalin demanded that all Soviet scholarship be purged of bourgeois ideas, Beria was prepared to do so everywhere but in physics. There, he drew the line because as he told Stalin who would be left to build nuclear weapons? Stalin was convinced and backed down.

            But had Suslov been in Beria’s place, physics would have been purged too, and the USSR would have been left with the means to defend itself, Marchenko says. And that kind of mistake was one that Suslov committed again and again to the detriment of the Soviet Union and its population.

            “Suslov’s last actions were the introduction of forces into Afghanistan and the promotion of Mikhail Gorbachev to the post o f Central Committee secretary.” He could have blocked both but didn’t. He was seduced by Gorbachev’s fawning when Suslov visited Stavropol, and he died before he could block Andropov.

            Marchenko’s comments, of course, aren’t about the past alone. They also constitute an argument against those, including Vladimir Putin,  who always say no to that are likely to discover that the future will be very different and possibly disastrously different than the one they want to maintain unchanged.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Tatar Writer who Forced Moscow to Change 1959 Census Celebrated

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 27 – One of the most frequent disappointments those of us who began studying Russia in Soviet times have experienced since 1991 is the failure of many more recent researchers to exploit the new information about lacunae of the Soviet past that were inexplicable to us at the time because of censorship and other restrictions.

            That is especially true about developments then which continue to cast a shadow on the present, and among them few are more intriguing than changes in the way in which the Soviet government conducted censuses and how it defined nationality for purposes of such enumerations.

            At the time of the 1959 Soviet census, something remarkable happened; and only now, thanks to research by Milyausha Khabetdinova of the Kazan Federal University, has that event been explained and the person behind it celebrated (  in Tatar; in Russian).

            The philologist gained access to the private archive Naki Isanbet (1899-1992), a remarkable Tatar literary figure often at odds with the authorities because he did was educated in two medrassahs rather than in Soviet schools and defended jadidism at times when that modernist trend in Islam was under attack by the communists.  (For a useful, albeit fragmentary survey of Isanbet’s remarkable career, seeИсанбет,_Наки .)

            In the run-up to the 1959 Soviet census, the first official enumeration of the population since the heavily falsified 1939 count, the Bashkir government conducted a massive campaign to get anyone in the Bashkir ASSR it could to call themselves Bashkirs rather than Tatars or anything else.

            Among the groups put under particular pressure to do so were the Teptars, Tatars who had moved into the region decades earlier and become, according to Ufa, Bashkirs but who retained their separate identity and distinct language, far closer to Tatar than Bashkir. (On the complicated history of the Teptars, seeТептяри.)

            But the Bashkir ASSR CPSU oblast party leadership insisted that the Teptars be counted as Bashkirs and it appears that many if not all of them were regardless of their personal views or even their declarations to census takers. That might have stood had it not been for the intervention of Isanbet, Khabetdinova says.

            At great risk to his career, the Tatar writer sent letters to senior officials in Moscow decrying what was going on. The KFU philologist offers the following quotation from them:

On the eve of the 1959 census, the Bashkir authoriteis carried out a propaganda campaign declaring that people should declare their nationality on the basis of their self-consciousness even if that did not correspond with their language. [Among those told to do so were the Tiptyars] who were told to identify as Bashkirs … I consider it necessary to state the following: there is no such thing as a nation called the Tiptyars. They are Tatars who came to Bashkortostan. Indeed, the word ‘tiptyar’ means just that: people who have come from elsewhere. That shows they aren’t indigenous inhabitants of Bashkortostan and not of Bashkir nationality. Our village Maloyaz is entirely Tatar.


               Remarkably, Moscow officials accepted his argument and overruled the Bashkir obkom, thus blocking the efforts of Ufa to forcibly reidentify Tatars as Bashkirs at least for the time being. According to Khabetdinova, “the example of Naki Isanbekov should inspire us … a single individual who achieved the reversal of an order of an obkom of the CPSU.”


               He was applauded at the time by the limited number of people who knew what he had done, she says; and he should be applauded now because thanks to him, people learned how to conduct a census and not override the views of those being enumerated, a battle that unfortunately continues to this day.

Massive Influx of Russians into Kazakhstan has Not Boosted Growth Much but has Sparked Inflation

Paul Goble

Staunton, Nov. 26 – In September and October, some 167,000 Russians fleeing mobilization moved to Kazakhstan, an exodus that did not promote a significant increase in economic growth but has sparked inflation, which is now approaching 20 percent, Kazakh officials say.

The  country’s GDP is up only 2.5 percent, far less than the double digit figures the Russian influx have produced in Armenia and Georgia, but inflation is up far more. The other two countries have smaller service oriented economies, and Kazakhstan is both larger and more industrial (; cf.

            Most Russians view Kazakhstan as a transit country rather than as their final destination. One consequence of that is the explosive growth in airline routes between Kazakhstan, on the one hand, and the Middle East and Europe, on the other. And another is that housing prices for short-term non-residents have skyrocketed.

            But as of now, neither Kazakh officials nor ordinary Kazakhs appear much disturbed by this latest Russian influx. Astana has repeatedly said it isn’t worried and instead is promoting the relocation of industry from Russia that may provide jobs for the Russians; and ordinary Kazakhs have said they welcome the more polite attitude of the recent Russian arrivals.

In Ukraine, ‘General Winter’ Working against Russian Invaders, Nevzlin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 27 – Because of their own history in which invaders have often been defeated less by force of arms than because of Russia’s brutally cold weather, many in Russia and elsewhere confidently believe that General Winter will be on their side in Ukraine even though there, Russian forces are the invader rather than the defender, Leonid Nevzlin says.

            “Winter cold has more than once rescued the Russian army in its fight against invaders,” the Israel-based Russian opposition politician and commentator says; and “in the current war, the Kremlin is also counting on the weather” to undercut Ukrainian popular support for the war and force the Ukrainian military to retreat (

            “But today, when Russia is the aggressor, Nevzlin says, Putin and his own invading army  “may fall into the same trap Napoleon or the Wehrmacht did,” as various foreign experts like  those at Washington’s Institute for the Study of War and the British defense ministry have already noted.

            Russian soldiers are already having to buy their own food and sometimes don’t have hot meals for several days at a time. Moscow is relying on Iran not only for drones but for uniforms as well. Unfortunately, for the soldiers and for Moscow, “Iranian uniforms are unlikely to help them” when temperatures fall well below zero and stay there for days.

            At the end of last winter, Nevzlin points out, the Russian military in its effort to advance on Kyiv suffered serious mechanical failures as a result of both poor manufacturing and insufficient insulation in its tanks and armored vehicles. But despite that, Moscow hasn’t drawn the necessary conclusions and taken steps to correct that problem.

            And what that means is this, the commentator says: No matter how much the Kremlin frightens Ukraine and the whole of Europe with cold, Moscow has more reason to be afraid of it than either of the others. Europe will manage and “Ukraine does not intend to retreat.” As a result, it is the Russian army that “may not hold out until spring.”