Sunday, November 13, 2022

Moscow Not Happy Kyiv Might Recognize Tatarstan but Lacks Resources to Take Draconian Steps Unless Ukrainian Conflict is Frozen, Sidorov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 12 – Now that Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada has registered a draft law that would have Kyiv recognize Tatarstan as an independent state, many in Moscow are expressing outrage at what they see as “a provocation” and some in Kazan are expressing concern that the Kremlin will take draconian steps against the republic ( and

            But Prague-based commentator Kharun Sidorov says that as long as the war in Ukraine goes on, the Kremlin lacks the free resources to take any dramatic action and that Kazan would have something to fear if and only if the war passes into the phase of a frozen conflict which could free Putin’s hands at home (

            That is the case even though the Ukrainian parliament carefully avoided recognizing the Republic of Chechnya-Ichkeria but only declared it a temporarily occupied land and even though members of the Verkhova Rada have said that they plan to pursue recognition of other republics, including Kalmykia and Karelia in the first instance (

            Ukrainian officials are giving themselves time to move; and any harsh Moscow response to even the tabling of a resolution calling for recognition of Tatarstan could spark moves by other republics interested in independence and international recognition, putting more pressure on Moscow than it could easily bear.

            Moreover, “as long as Moscow de facto controls [Tatarstan] or any other territories, the recognition or non-recognition of this control by the international community will be for it an insignificant factor,” Sidorov says. And that has important consequences not only for the republics but also for Ukraine and the international community.

            He argues that “the threat of mass repressions in Tatarstan and not only there comes not from the war during which the Kremlin does not have such possibilities but from its freezing to which the Russian leadership is striving by seeking peace negotiations.”

            “If the military conflict were ended without a military-political defeat of the aggressor and the de-occupation of all the territories annexed by it, then he would really have the possibility of transferring his forces and using them for mass repressions inside the country,” Sidorov says (stress supplied).

            And the Kremlin would have particular reason to do just that: such a use of force within the current borders of the Russian Federation would distract attention from Putin’s loss in Ukraine and give him the opportunity to eliminate the non-Russian republics and transform them into faceless gubernias.

            At present, Kyiv is opposed to freezing the conflict; but some in the international system are pressing for just that, apparently unaware of what their actions will mean first for the non-Russian peoples inside the current borders of the Russian Federation and then subsequently for Ukraine and other countries beyond those lines.

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