Sunday, June 9, 2024

Putin's Criminalized Army in Ukraine will Trigger Civil War in Russia On Its Return, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 5 – The Kremlin’s increasing use of criminals to man its expanded invasion of Ukraine and the criminalization of Russian units there both as a result of that and of the nature of the war Moscow is waging there will be a major trigger of a civil war in Russia itself when they return en masse at the end of the conflict, Vladimir Pastukhov says.

            At present, some of the returning soldiers with this past or experience are committing crimes on an individual basis in the belief that as the core of a new elite Putin talks about they are immune from any serious punishment, a belief that has at least some basis in Russian realities.

            But the London-based Russian analyst says that these individual crimes are only the harbinger of something much more serious when at the end of the war such soldiers are not returning individually but in a large numbers and even in units ( reposed at

            When that happens, Pastukhov says, “situations like ‘the cold summer of 1953 when thousands of criminals were amnestied all at once by Beria’s decree and post-war Odesa where actual power was seized for a time by criminal groups will inevitably be reproduced in the Russian Federation,” will last for some time, and will provoke a response.

            “In the event of a ceasefire” and even more in the event of a peace accord, he continues, “a stream of criminal rabble will simply pour into Russia … [and] local communities will have to confront a situation in which the Kremlin will seek to position this criminal rabble as the new elite ‘like veterans of the Afghan and Chechen war’” but in much larger numbers.

            All this “will only add fuel to the fire and make the conflict even deeper,” as will “the connivance of the police who will try to avoid taking sides in what will increasingly appear to everyone to be a civil war between these criminal groups of returning soldiers, other criminal groups and the population, Pastukhov says.           

            He concludes that these conflicts will not be “the central battle in the looming civil war,” but it is “obvious that they will not be its least important or noticeable features,” all the more so because this massive phenomenon is one that the Putin regime by its decision to use criminals in the military in large numbers has created. 

             Pastukhov does not say, but it is an equally obvious conclusion from his argument that many Russians may thus fear the end of the war even as they fear its continuation and that Putin is relying on this  to ensure that support for his aggression will remain relatively high. 

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